My friend Mark has been laid off twice in the past year, and he's obviously frustrated. He called me, a freelance writer for the past seven years, recently to pick my brain about starting his own business, as he'd rather be his own boss now than go through the job-hunting rigamarole for a third time.
I said "go for it" and pointed him to this article I wrote recently for Bankrate about why this recession may be a good time to start your own business.
If you too are a frustrated job-hunter, becoming an entrepreneur instead may be something to consider, rather than waiting for the economy to turn around for a company to offer you a job. After all, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, and Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard all started their businesses during recessions (Uncle Walt started his during the Great Depression) and look where their companies are now.
Obviously, starting a business now is harder than doing it during boom times. On the other hand, research shows that small-biz owners who had to bootstrap and manage on a shoestring have better financial returns and long-term success than those who were handed easy cash during flush times. The more you have to worry about money, the more thoughtful you are about earning, managing and spending it.
The rulebook for recession-era entrepreneurs is a bit different. Besides having a good idea for a business, you have to show potential customers how you'll do things cheaper, faster and better for them. You also have to make sure you are very realistic about how much you'll spend in expenses and earn in revenues --a pitfall during any type of economy. But there are some bright lights during this economy for small-biz newbies. While big banks may not be lending, your local community bank that knows the region in better detail would probably be more amenable to a loan for your business. Marketing doesn't have to cost so much, thanks to cheap and free Internet tools like Facebook and YouTube. Vendors -- from office landlords to the tech-support guy -- are more willing to lower rents and cut deals on the supplies you need. And obviously, it's easier to find talented employees hungry for work.
Interested? Make sure being an entrepreneur is something you -- and your family -- can handle. I love being my own boss but sometimes working solo can be a little lonely, and I always have to struggle with managing my time wisely. To determine whether this is for you, take this assessment tool offered by the Small Business Administration. Then consider taking one of the SBA's online or in-person training courses. FastTrac, a training program sponsored by the Kaufman Foundation, is also a great course for starting or growing a business.
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