Do Your Own Thing: Tips for Starting a Business After a Career Setback
[This article was written by Lawrence Mager.]
Losing a job or being passed over for a promotion can be a devastating blow. You put untold hours into a career and demonstrate unimpeachable dedication to your employer. Being dismissed or passed over can undermine your confidence, and leave you feeling embittered and cynical. However, it doesn’t mean your career is over. In fact, for many people, it signals the beginning of an exciting new chapter and a chance to remake their lives free of the restrictions that corporate expectations place on them. Put simply, a career setback can be a best-case scenario if it means you get to make a living doing something you truly love.
A study recently published in Inc. magazine asserted that small businesses are the true backbone of the nation’s economy. As of 2010, there were nearly 28 million small businesses in the U.S., compared to about 18,000 companies with 500 or more employees. Fifty-two percent of America’s small businesses are home-based. In the present economy, small businesses create jobs and economic opportunity like nothing else today. That’s great news for anyone with a good idea and the determination to make it happen.
There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of making a good living without having to answer to anyone but yourself and your customers. It can be an intimidating prospect after years of showing up for work and letting your superiors worry about planning, finances, hiring, and new business creation. Starting your own business means you’re in charge of it all. It’s not for everyone, but when you’ve been disappointed by a company that benefited from years of your faithful service, it might be worth taking a risk.
A hobby, a passion, a living
Indulge your passion, whatever that might be. It could be something like genealogical research; for others, it might mean translating a love of cooking into restaurant entrepreneurship. If you have a knack for sales and enjoy helping people, you could make a very good living in real estate, or if you’re a dog lover, you might consider starting a dog-walking or dog-sitting service. If you’ve always wanted to work with computers, you have a lot of options these days. From computer repair to website development and networking, it’s a field that’s never short of customers, and there’s always something new to learn or adapt for your own purposes.
Once you’ve chosen your new profession, you’ll need customers. Start with who you know, and take advantage of any opportunity to network both in person and online. When it’s time to turn your contacts into clients, don’t be surprised if the process reminds you of a job interview. After all, when you work for yourself, the customer is your real boss. Give your confidence — and your chance of getting the client — a boost by brushing up on interview skills and techniques before your first meeting.
You can also attract new clients via an eye-catching, engaging website, which you can promote on your personal and professional social media pages. While social media is a free way to market your business, having a dedicated website for your business — no matter its nature — will set you apart from your competition, and let potential and existing customers know you’re a serious entrepreneur. There are plenty of web hosting options available, and many will virtually walk you through the process of building your site (WordPress and Wix are popular options). When choosing your service, be sure to prioritize ample bandwidth and storage space, language and coding support, and security.
A home-based business will have less overhead and generally requires less up-front capital than one that calls for an investment in equipment and employees. Once you’ve determined what kind of business you want to start, assess your start-up costs and what kind of funding you’ll need. You should ask yourself these three questions when determining what kind of business financing to apply for:
- How much do I need?
- How much return can I get?
- What are my expenses, including debt and interest payments?
Answering these questions can help you figure out whether you even need financing. There are a number of ways to raise money that don’t necessarily involve running to the bank. There’s grant money available from the government, or you could reach out to an investor or group of supporters. If you’re seeking some means of funding, you’ll need to develop a business plan that spells out your strategy and long-term goals. This should be a blueprint that a potential investor can use to get a better understanding of what you want to accomplish.
However, if funding becomes an issue or you want to explore other options while you’re waiting for some financial assistance, look into the dropshipping platform. This option requires very little investment up front — all you need to get started is a good website! Dropshipping allows you to sell an assortment of goods — from clothing and jewelry to electronics and gadgets — without keeping physical inventory. Instead, when an item is ordered, it is shipped via a third party directly to your customers, allowing you to make money without sitting on stock. Even if you ultimately receive funding and take your business in exciting new directions, you can always keep your dropshipping business running on the side.
Make it work
You’ve spent many years being part of a successful business. If you’ve suffered a job loss, now’s the time to use what you’ve learned to make your own idea work. You just might end up with the job of your dreams.
Larry taught high school history for years before being laid off due to budget cuts. He’s currently building his tutoring business and studying mental fitness techniques.