Every day we read the news about higher unemployment rates, lack of job creation, and projections that the outlook is unlikely to change in the near term. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recognizes that the majority of new jobs come from small businesses, and the reality is that the way out for many of the unemployed will be starting a business.

Independent Contractor, Consultant or Business Owner

You’ve heard the old adage: the only certainties are death and taxes. Job security is no longer a given, and whether currently employed or not, we are always “on the market.” We are all free agents with skills, perseverance and a clear understanding of our capabilities; we are our own products to be packaged, priced, and marketed to qualified prospects. Not only are you the product, it may be time for you to be the business that owns the product.

You’ve been an employee. How different would it to be your own boss? There many options for how to be your own boss:

  • As an independent contractor for other companies
  • As a consultant for hire, putting all those corporate and professional skills to work for multiple clients
  • As a business owner with a business name (J. Doe, Inc. or J. Doe, LLC); again, you can be a consultant, sell products and services, but this goes one step further than the previous option by formalizing your business legal status.

Each option has benefits and drawbacks. Whichever option you choose, whether it is “until I can find another job” or you get started and decide you want to own and run your own business regardless of the job market, changing your perspective from “unemployed worker” to “free agent/business owner” will enable you to look at your skill set from a different perspective.

First, you will recognize that there are alternatives to being an employee working for someone else. You will look at your experience and skill set from a perspective of “product” marketing against the competition. You will be marketing not a dry resume, but the benefits you bring to a prospective employer.

Jobs for You and Others

With the majority of jobs created by small businesses (and all businesses start small), you may find that you and several colleagues can come together to create financial independence for yourselves—and jobs for others. Even in tough economic times, new businesses and smart business people can succeed, grow and thrive. It takes planning, realism and hard work. It also takes some funds but you don’t have to be independently wealthy to start a business (although it doesn’t hurt!).

Your Next Career … Entrepreneur

So the first step is a realistic assessment of what you will be starting with. Take a hard, honest look at the following list to assess your readiness to start your own business.

  • Experience and expertise
  • Contacts and networks
  • Tools and resources
    • Computers
    • Money
    • People
    • Space
  • Commitments and constraints
    • Living expenses
    • Sources of alternative cash flow
  • Bank accounts
  • Spouse’s income
  • First “investors” (e.g., credit cards, credit score)
    • Time
    • Space
    • Baggage from previous employers
  • Non-compete agreements
  • Non-disclosure agreements
  • Other legal agreements

Once you know where you will start, then comes deciding what to do and how to do it. Having a clear picture of what you want to do, what resources you have available and what you are willing to give up in the near term (1–3 years), as well as what commitments of time and resources you can’t change, then you have the basis for creating the business that will provide the financial independence you desire.

Copyright ©2010 Lea A. Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.

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