My client, John, had recently lost his job. What was most puzzling to him was that up until he got his notice his manager had given him very positive feedback about his performance. The truth was the company had eliminated the budget for his job function. His work was good but they decided they did not need that work done any more.
At 50 years old he was just fed up by the general lack of integrity he saw in employers and came to SCORE to learn more about how to start his own business. The other SCORE counselor and I were surprised when he immediately took charge of the agenda. (Note: SCORE is a volunteer organization of business owners and corporate executives some of whom are retired. It is part of the Small Business Administration in the US. SCORE members counsel thousands of businesses every year at no cost to the business owner.)
He had prepared a short presentation to show us exactly what his skills were and the kind of business he was planning. He then presented a potential client list. This list was made up of people he knew in the area and people with whom he had had past business relationships that he had nurtured over the years. It was an impressive list. Finally he told us about his financial reserves and what he thought he would be able to invest in himself in order to get the business off the ground.
The other counselor and I were amazed. It is rare that anyone is that well prepared. He certainly had a jump-start on the process. He would need our help to get a business plan together but given his presentation we knew he was well on the way to his “Road to Success”.
Of course he had concerns. Having a paycheck coming in on a regular basis along with insurance and other benefits provided a sense of security that he wanted too. At this point though he was beginning to believe that even working for someone else was not secure. The real reason for his enthusiasm for having his own business was that he would be able to design the life he really wanted to live and part of that life would be a business that he could run with integrity-his vision.
More and more laid off workers are thinking of starting a business as an option for themselves. They commonly ask us how long it will take to get going. It’s a question with no easy answer. It depends on the preparation that is done and the best time to have done that preparation is while working for someone else!
I’ve written before about the importance of having plan B. It could be that for today’s environment you need both a plan B and a plan C. If plan B is a plan for getting your next job working for an employer and then plan C is one for working for yourself. The good news is that some of what you do for plan B will be useful for plan C. You can start both by defining your skills, talents, values and behavioral style. Which of your skills, talents and values are most important to you? Based on your behavioral style how do you like to communicate? Where are the gaps between what you have and what you need? Where can you get training on the things you need to learn?
For both plans you need to be aware of the marketplace trends. Just as you will ask yourself, “Where is my employer or industry headed?” for plan B, you will ask yourself “What is happening that will affect my business?” for plan C. Trends give you an incite into what people are buying or doing.
In my opinion today everyone needs to think of himself as self employed. Employers aren’t going to take care of employees the way they have in the past. In the US we have only to look at what they are doing to health insurance, pensions and training. A person can’t depend on them even when they are employed. If you are not actively updating your skills yourself, working on understanding yourself better, saving money to create substantial reserves, and planning for a non-employed period in your life, your time to re-employment will be adversely affected.
My client had done his homework. He knew his skills, had a network, had enough reserves to carry him while he went through a few months of start up expense, and had a vision of what his life would be like when he was running his own business. With all this pre-work done and with a good business plan his chances for success are high.
1. Make a list of your skills and talents? Make a list of business ideas using these skills and talents as a basis? Explore these and find a fit.
2. Make a list of the people in your network. If you already have a list, make sure you have everyone listed in a good contact manager. Find a good process to maintain contact with the people in your network.
3. Begin to write a business plan to see if any of your business ideas could make enough money to support you.
4. Visualize yourself as a business owner. What do you do all day? What parts of the life are attractive to you? What parts are unattractive? Is there a way to visualize this so you will feel drawn to it and energized by it?