Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Being laid off? Think about becoming an entrepreneur

With millions of talented people being laid off during the current financial crisis, there is opportunity to turn tragedy into triumph by becoming an entrepreneur. I would recommend first trying hard to get another comparable job so the income stream is there to support day-to-day expenses. However, if you are not able to get a job, then perhaps entrepreneurialism might be your path forward. Even if you do have income from a job, it may make sense to start a business on your own while you have the income stream. Over time, your business may grow to take over as your primary and ongoing income source providing you with many more options with your career than currently might be possible.

What do you need to consider when going into business?
There are a lot of things you need to consider. However, don’t get so wrapped up in worrying about all of the minute details that you procrastinate actually getting started. The first thing I recommend is nailing down what business to start. Do this by creating two columns on a blank piece of paper labeled strengths and weaknesses. Write down all of the strengths and strong skills that you have personally, in business, relationships, etc. Then write down all of your main weaknesses in the same categories. Really study the list. Look for ways of overcoming your weaknesses to turn them into strengths. Perhaps you need to get some education that will build your abilities in certain weak areas. Perhaps one of your strengths could be paired with the weakness to help overcome it. Personally, I like to face my weaknesses and fears head on. I like to force myself to learn and grow in those areas to turn them into future strengths. That is my own challenge so I’m always growing and not allowing weaknesses to keep me stagnant. Continually overcoming weaknesses will give you knowledge and skills needed to face and overcome barriers that will come while growing a business.

Find a mentor/possible partner
Find someone that is strong in the area(s) you are weak in that can mentor and guide your development. This may actually be a way of finding someone else who would be a good fit for you in starting the business. Many times people who are opposites have made the best business pair since one was strong in an area the other was weak. They are able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each other to capitalize on who would be best suited for a particular task/client/etc. while building the business.

Ego can be your friend and enemy
We all know people who have very strong ego. Many times these people make very strong managers that take action and get things done. It is fine when ego is used constructively to drive action and get results. However, when ego is used to put others down and gets in the way, then it is a huge barrier to ever getting long term success. You must recognize what level of ego you and your partner(s) have, understand if it is constructive or destructive, take corrective action as needed to reshape the ego to be a positive driving force that motivates others to feel passionate about succeeding together.

Also, never be so proud that you don’t listen to and use the advice and help of others. Always known your weaknesses and recognize when someone can help, then accept that help. Life is too short to let pride get in the way of success.

You need a team to create long term success
Going completely on your own is a very hard way to start a business. Start meeting people as you take training classes, work with clients, go to church or other gatherings, etc. Get to know who has strengths that could be tapped to help you in business. Find a way of bartering for their help – perhaps you will provide a product or service to them in exchange for them doing the same for you.

The Small Business Administration and SCORE are invaluable resources
Don’t forget that the Small Business Administration (SBA) is an invaluable source of education and counseling to help you succeed. They also have a separate arm called SCORE, which is comprised of retired executives who now volunteer their time to consult with business owners and many other resources to help entrepreneurs succeed. In fact, the SCORE website www.score.org has set up a feature for you to select consultants for free geographically and by industry at http://www.score.org/ask_score.html. They also have online classes on various subjects. Anyway, SCORE is an amazing free resource that can help tremendously with starting, running, and growing a business.

Consider the finances required
Once you have a business, create a business plan that includes timelines of accomplishments and any project income and expenses at each milestone on the timeline. Always know where your finances stand. Know when you need to make cuts to get by enough to continue moving forward. Also recognize when the business is not going to succeed to cut your losses early and try another business. Again, don’t let pride keep you from moving on. However, always learn from everything you do to incorporate your knowledge into the next venture.

Don’t take things personally
Don’t take rejection personally. Don’t take failure personally. Recognize that these things always happen and are a requirement for success. Until you have failed or experienced rejection, you don’t really learn how to overcome them and move forward. Personally, I look forward to failure and rejection since those are my most challenging times that require me to be very resourceful in finding solutions to overcome. I feel the most personal growth and satisfaction after overcoming my hardest challenges. Welcome them as opportunities to grow and become an overcomer.

Share your success
Treat your employees well. Provide unexpected small bonuses such as a gift certificate to a nice restaurant or store when someone does something nice. Write a hand written note that says you are proud of their accomplishment on a task. Get a simple plaque made that they can put on their desk. Bring them into your office to tell them how much you appreciate their work on that task.

Consider doing similar things for people outside of your company who help you and your business. Give your supplier, banker, customer, etc. a nice surprise. Let them know they are appreciated and valued.

Doing these things will go a long way toward building fierce loyalty. People will remember you and your company will be their first choice when needed.

Understand you are in the business of people, not products or services
Remember, you are in the people business, not a business of selling products or services. Products or services won’t likely be bought until you have first built the relationship with a decision maker/customer. Think about yourself – would you rather buy something from a friend or complete stranger? Take that even further – would you be willing to pay more buying from a trusted friend or paying less from a complete stranger? In that case, you can see there is a financial value placed on the level of trust and friendship you can build with the customer, and with your employees.

Be a lifelong student of business
Take every opportunity to continue learning. As mentioned before, take classes and read books about areas you are weak in. Continue building on your strengths through ongoing education. Talk with successful people who can mentor you. Always be moving forward with your personal development and knowledge of every aspect of business.

As you know, there are many books, articles, etc. on starting a business. I could not possibly include everything that is needed to start a business in this article. My hope here was to at least get those who are currently being threatened by the negative job market to consider going into business for themselves. Doing so could be a way of creating job security in the long run. Sure there are up and down periods in business, but those events can be anticipated and planned for through proper investments that ensure continued survival of the business. If you do take the entrepreneurial plunge, I wish you the very best and say it will be hard, but very rewarding in the end. Expect many challenges, but make those opportunities to develop character and strengths as an overcomer.

Copyright 2009 Ole Cram, President of Marcobe Investments, Inc.
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Marcobe Investments, Inc., is a corporation that invests in various oil and gas ventures and refers accredited investors, investment managers, financial advisors, investment funds, and others to the associated oil producer of these projects for their consideration. We are not licensed to sell any interest in a project, nor are we registered advisors.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for educational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for tax, legal, financial, or other registered professional advice for your specific situation. Always seek the advice of a professional before making any related decision.

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