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In this era of disappearing corporate and small business jobs, with “real unemployment” hovering at 55 million, are you wondering if you should consider a fresh career path? For many people, starting a business is an attractive alternative to competing for jobs in a cutthroat market.
Ask yourself these 12 questions to gauge your appetite for the kind of challenges that come with entrepreneurship:
- Have you been working in a field where there are more qualified employees than there are jobs? Yes, probably decreases your odds of speedy re-employment.
- Do you have, or can you easily acquire, skills that make you extremely valuable for your current career? Yes, means you may be able to zoom to the head of the ‘attractive candidate’ line.
- If positions are limited, can you offer your talents on a contract or freelance basis to multiple companies? With this option, you may be able to pull together a variety of needed projects, which will net you more income than your former job.
- Do you work in an industry where age discrimination is common? If it’s unusual to find mature employees in your industry, know that age discrimination is virtually impossible to prove. When you’re fully qualified for jobs, ongoing rejection is destructive to your self esteem. For most people, it’s better for your mental health to discover a new path.
- Do you possess special abilities, which allow you to buck a trend to hire younger workers? With something extraordinary in your skill-set, you may possess a needed talent which makes you so desirable that age doesn’t matter.
- If you love your work and jobs are scarce, can you repackage your talents for other work you’d enjoy pursuing? While you may think of yourself as an expert in a specific industry, examine the underlying talents that made you successful. Then consider other industries, where you can apply your unique abilities with equal passion.
- If you haven’t been doing work you love, what is your dream career? As a person whose career path has changed a few times, I’ve been blessed to discover ways to use talents that cause me to wake up energized by my work on most mornings. What will make you feel this enthusiasm?
- Sometimes we dream of doing something we have no education or training for, which means the transition may require a long-term plan. This could mean seeking additional education or simply using existing talents to build a new history of work. You might offer to take on additional responsibilities in a current position or you may be able to volunteer for organizations that need your skills. Volunteer projects can be an effective way to develop a track record that substantiates your abilities, while providing services for deserving groups. What is required for you to do new work you’ll enjoy?
- Can you use your skills to start a business you’d love to manage – either to create your ideal career or as an interim step, while you prepare for your new job? Have you read the story of the woman in New Jersey, who started baking apple cakes to make her mortgage payment so she wouldn’t lose her home? Now she owns a thriving business with customers throughout the country. What are your talents? The Internet has broadened your market opportunities. You can build a successful business with one special product.
- Does the idea of being self-employed excite you? Some of us thrive when working for ourselves. If you like independence, but need human interaction, find ways to collaborate on projects, join groups that meet weekly, involve yourself in professional organizations that will advance your career standing while providing the opportunity to converse with colleagues, volunteer in your community. Find ways to balance your solitary work with people contact.
- Do you work well without being managed? If you need someone to establish goals and prioritize your work for you, self-employment may be a struggle for you. If you have an excellent idea, but know larger business issues are your weakness, consider partnering with a person you respect and trust. Let your partner manage the company.
- Do you enjoy setting and achieving your own goals? Key to entrepreneurial success is the satisfaction that comes from establishing lots of small objectives and achieving them enroute to larger goals. Most of what you do will not be known or understood by anyone but you. Your feeling of achievement must come from your own knowledge of your accomplishments. From the outside, it can appear that little is happening, however, you will know you’re advancing in ways that will reap success.
While business credit will probably remain limited from major financial institutions, local and regional banks and credit unions are extending credit to small businesses. See my columns, Why You Don’t Need Intermediaries to Build Business Credit and Eight Reasons to Start Your Business Now for some guidance in the first steps toward entrepreneurship.
I encourage you to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit burrowed within and create a unique path for yourself – one that leads straight out of the employment boundaries of this recession.