Self Employment Conditioning: Rewire Your View Of Work

Getting a job has been so culturally conditioned in our psyches that it’s almost inconceivable to think about being self-employed. Think I’m wrong? Exaggerating?

Consider your friends and family. How many are self-employed? Now, think about your high school or college classmates. How many chose to work for themselves?

If you are like most of us, you will come up with only a handful of individuals. Why? Because self-employment was not typically presented as an option for a working life in the last 50 years.  Now, it’s satisfying to see that colleges and universities are starting schools of entrepreneurial studies and at least giving students some insight into another viable, occupational alternative. 

To prepare you for the transition from employment to self-employment, there are a few key changes you will have to make in your thinking and outlook.

Understanding Opportunity. 

For many in the working market, or about to enter the market, opportunity is defined as security. The aim of many of these people is job security, or at least the promise of a stable work environment and a regular paycheck. This really isn’t opportunity; it’s a situation. In a more vintage version of a job description, it was said that one was looking for a situation, with the implication that you want to settle into your job/situation: one that will sustain you for years to come. Then, there is self-employment. When you are self-employed, you are driven by the opportunity, not the situation (think America, Land of Opportunity). Your “situation” is the enterprise that you create to capitalize on opportunity. Security is not the sole objective of creating an enterprise, but can be the by-product of pursuing that opportunity.

 

In order to recognize and capitalize on opportunity, you need to first retrain your brain. Stop thinking like an employee and focus like an enterpriser.  When you see an opportunity, figure-out how to marry this chance with your talents, resources and products. Our conditioning – especially for those born and raised in the years since 1945 – has programmed us to avoid free thinking when it comes to careers, occupations or employment. For many of us, our collective experience in preparing for working life— from parents, elders, educators, counselors— has been to focus on obtaining a situation within a large organization. Corporations, governments, health-care institutions and similar organizations have been the suggested end points for young people seeking employment for as far back as I can remember.

View Yourself and Your World in a New Way 

As mentioned above, a large part of the transition to self-employment involves changing those neural pathways that were cut over decades. First, you  must learn to think like an entrepreneur, or perhaps a better word might be enterpriser. By this term, I refer to someone who views work as a series of opportunities. An enterpriser can still have a career— that is, working in one profession for a lifetime. The difference is that this career will be punctuated by a series of opportunities.

Launching a new enterprise and hiring yourself for the first time is a daunting task. However, if you go into this task well-prepared, the angst and anxiety of the unknown can be minimized. Here are a few things that you can do to help you reduce the stress of converting from traditional employment to self-employment.

Know Your Business. 

Be sure to do your market research and get a clear picture of what you can expect. For example:

  • If you’re launching a product/service in an established market, then the task of introducing your brand may be easier and quicker to start earning.
  • If you’re entering a mature market that has a crowded marketplace, expect that it may take time to break through and begin earning.
  • If you’re introducing a new product/service, or even a new approach to a traditional product/service, you will have to educate prospective customers/clients before you can sell to them. This takes time.

Get Frames of Reference. 

Talk to business owners and managers who operate enterprises similar to yours. Find out how long it took them to succeed. Ask about problems/issues that they encountered. If you have realistic examples to draw upon, you will have realistic expectations for your enterprise.

Going Solo: Five Essential Jobs To Learn For Success

In the first article in this series, I talked about five tips to help your business take off and they all begin with YOU.

So, too, for the established enterprise and in particular, for one person operations, or solopreneurs. I spent more than three decades as a solo provider of marketing and advertising services and there’s one thing that is applicable to most solo operations and that is, YOUR ABILITY TO MULTI-TASK.

I’m speaking about more than just wearing different hats. In today’s warp-speed business environment, you will have to do several things and do them very well and in a timely manner.

Let’s do an overview of these five essential jobs;

1. Primary Source of Your Core Business– Whether you are a free lance designer, independent sales rep, solo professional practitioner, interior designer or handyman, you must keep you core skills up-to-date and efficient. It’s easy to get lost in the mechanicals of launching and running a profitable business. Just don’t forgot what got you there. We witness this mistake regularly when large corporations diversify too far and pay less attention to innovation and quality control in the core offerings. Remember, as a solo enterpriser, your skills are the “products” that your “factory” makes and they have to be consistently outstanding.

2. Marketing Manager – Creating leads is essential. Whether you use social media, email blasts, traditional print or broadcast advertising, it’s essential that you –– as  the solo enterpriser–– learn to understand your medium(s) of choice and how to create attractive content. Learn how to write persuasive copy for your posts, ads and videos. The age of DIY marketing is here and there is no need to be shy about doing your own video post, or writing an ad for your business.  Study and learn: Check out what other small businesses are doing, use their work as a template or guide, and then craft your own messages.

3. Lead Sales Person – No matter how great your solo services are, there is no  business or professional practice without sales. In my experience as a self employment and business consultant, I found that this is one area with which many solos struggle. It’s going  to be your job to take the leads you get from marketing and convert them to sales.For a lot of people, the thought of direct sales if terrifying. Take heart, there are ways to make the process easier. For example:

• Arrange to showcase your services by giving an educational seminar.

• Make it clear to your prospect that you would like to give a formal presentation. The  structure makes some people feel more confident.

• If you’re more of a personality-centric sales person, than presenting over lunch, golf or other social function may better suit you.

     In short, choose your battlefield and you will be more confident in your sales efforts.

4. Operations Officer & Logistics Manager   –  For  all intents and purposes, the principle in a solo enterprise of also the Chief Operations Officer. If yours is a service enterprise, then the focus of your efforts is going to be on the following:

• Follow sales patterns, growth and non-growth periods and making adjustments.

• Keep an eye on the competition. Make sure you’re positioned competitively in terms  of offering optimal value for dollars spent. This means checking your pricing and service offerings against the competition on a regular basis.

• Customer satisfaction. There is a lot “satisfaction surveying” going on every where we go today. Little of it, from my experience seems, to generate much in the way of service. Those organizations who make outstanding service a part of their culture, do it all day, every day.

5. Finance Manager – Being a solopreneur also means learning a thing or two about business finance. I cannot provide you with a comprehensive course in business accounting  in this blog, but here is some advice I can give as a guy who made it through more than 37  years operating completely solo.

• Understand what “Cash Flow” means and make sure to check it daily, really twice daily. That it is to say, your need to have the right amount of money in the right places at the right times.

• Establish relations with a bank, preferably a local or regional one in which the personnel changes will likely be fewer. Let this person get to know you and your business. When the time is right, get an unsecured (or secured, if necessary) for your business. You’re most likely going to need it.

• Stay up with collections. I know first hand that it’s very hard to ask a good client for money that it owed you, but you must develop a way to handle this.

 So, you’re probably thinking right now, this is great, but how do I acquire all this knowledge? Well, some of it might come from education or previous experience. However, if you don’t have  schooling in marketing, sales, logistics and accounting , or your lacking experience in these areas, then it comes down to plain ‘ole on the job learning.

  I guess the latter adds another job to functions to learn as a solo enterpriser.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Five Tips to Help Your Enterprise Take Off and They Begin With You

Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way, Part One of Two

There are many reasons why some new enterprises thrive while others suffocate in the first couple of years. Of course, there are the often-cited, concrete reasons for failure such as poor capitalization, higher then anticipated development or production costs or, in the case of independent contractors, lack of reliable support staff.

However, there five less tangible elements that can capsize your business ship in a hurry. Interestingly, they all focus on YOU.

#1. Have YOU done your due diligence?

By this I’m talking about solid market research.  If you haven’t the funds to hire professional research specialist(s), then do your research at a grass roots level by obtaining frames of references and basic market information. Questions that you need to answer include:

  • Are similar enterprises in my markets doing well?
  • Is this an established or mature market? 
  • Are there competitors? If so, is there room for more competition? Is there room for my enterprise to grow?
  • Can you compete with the market leaders?
  • If there are no competitors, why? Is there a reason that no other enterprise is in this market?

#2. Advantage: You?

When you’re doing your due diligence on the competition in your markets, also ascertain if your enterprise will have any specific advantage(s), by asking the following questions:

  • Does your product or service have a specific advantage over the competition?
  • If so, what is the perceived value (of those in the market) about your advantage?
  • Is there anything truly new or unique about the core idea of your enterprise?
  • If you are selling your services, is there something special or extraordinary about you, your skill set, or your personality?

#3. Have YOU honestly considered inherent disadvantages?

While you are assessing the advantages of your enterprise, you will also need to think about its disadvantages. This is just as essential in assessing the potential success/failure of your enterprise. Factors to consider include:

  • Is there so much competition in your chosen markets that it reduces the earning opportunity?
  • Is the market so crowded that trying to stand out or be recognized will be a costly effort with little chance of return on investment?
  • Is the competition too strong? Will your business be up against major players, with deep pockets that control a sizable portion of the market?
  • Are you launching an original product/service or a variation of an existing offering that requires client/consumer education?
  • Are there competitive disadvantages in the products/services you’re offering?
  • Is there a price disadvantage or perceived lack of value for your product or service?

Part of the picture with several of these considerations is the money factor. If you are competing in a crowded marketplace, or a market that is dominated by some big players or a virgin market, it is likely that you will need to be well capitalized.

#4. Are YOU and YOUR Skills, Attitudes & Personality a Threat To Your Business?

As a newcomer to your chosen market, an enterprise that lacks unique features, has uncompetitive pricing, or delivers poor quality is not likely to survive. One of the hardest elements to isolate in assessing the potential success of a start up or young enterprise is the Founder Factor.  That is: You may have founded the enterprise but are you truly the right person to be running it?

Consider the following examples:                                                                                          • Are you a skilled and experienced manager? Would your enterprise be better off with someone who can manage operations and people?

• If you’re going to be responsible for sales on an ongoing basis, such as is the case in solo enterprises, do you have the temperament, speaking abilities, confidence and tenacity to handle this vital task?

• If you’re not a good money manager with your personal finances, it’s likely that you’ll be the same with your business. Acknowledge this limitation at the outset and hire a financial officer. If you’re business lacks the funding or is too small for a full time financial officer, retain an accountant.

#5. Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way

This phrase from an old Chrysler/Dodge ad, and spoken by famed CEO Lee Iacocca, has become a popular catch-all for many things. I find it truly resonates for those of us who are starting, have started or are running our own enterprises.

The idea, design, vision, etc. may have come from us, but are we the best ones to grow it? The answers to this vary with the individual entrepreneur.

If launching your business into the stratosphere of earnings and market dominance, then you should consider those that can get you there.

However, if you’re in a small enterprise and your driving goal is to provide a service or product that represents YOU, then you’re going to want to retain control.

More on this in Part Two of Lead, Follow or Get Out Of The Way, posting on October 10, 2018.

Building Your Business Identity: The Five Ws of Customer Perception

As you formulate your new enterprise, you should be concerned about creating the right identity for the business. Here’s a handy cheat sheet: use the old reporter’s rule of the 5 W’s: 

Who?  What does the market see when it see you or your business?

What? Do you explain well what your enterprise offers? Do you have a clear and unique identity for your offerings?

Where?  What is your market position relative to the competition?

When?  How do want your potential customers to view your products/services in terms of presence in the market? Do you want to tout that your offering are new and unique, or do you wish to play down the fact that you’re a new player?

Why? Have you isolated the reasons why your prospective customers should buy your products or services?

The Balance of Customer Needs With Customer Wants

The concept of building a business identity is inextricably tied to the practice of addressing both the needs and wants of the marketplace. We wear a particular brand of pants because they fit in with our image of ourselves, and our lifestyle. The same can be said for the cars we drive, the homes we live in, the foods we eat, the beverages we drink. In all these cases, it is the wants side of the marketing formula that drives the initial purchase. However, many a product or service has successfully enticed a customer to make an initial purchase, but failed in its attempt to obtain a repeat buyer, or to maintain an ongoing practice relationship. Why?  Because the product or service successfully addressed the wants of the customer, but failed to deliver on the needs.

Give the customer what they want and they’ll let you sell them what they need…. So goes the old adage.

Every successful enterpriser needs to understand the balance between these integral elements. Consider these points:

If NEED alone prompted purchases, then people would just buy basic automobiles. No luxury brand. No high performance cars. Just basic transportation to go from point A to point B.  Similarly, clothing would simply be utilitarian in nature. Function would definitely trump fashion in goods and services, if the WANT side of the buying formula was left out.

It is the WANT that makes the economy go, and that creates wealth and establishes brands and customer loyalty.

Consider This Example…

Not so long ago, a beverage brand spent millions to establish itself in the marketplace. The product was not particularly flavorful, but what it lacked in taste, it made up for in advertising alchemy. The company launched one of the most successful brand building campaigns in advertising history and, within two years, you could find this beverage in clubs and restaurants everywhere. Clever advertising made it a popular choice at parties and picnics, as well as other venues. It seemed that, overnight, the brand had penetrated the market to nearly incredible levels. Yet, within three years, the brand was on the downslide, and within five years, you were hard pressed to find a bottle of this product anywhere. So, what went wrong?  Nothing, really. The market just corrected itself. The product was not particularly good to begin with, and so it failed to address the basic needs of the customer for a good-tasting, satisfying beverage. 

The preceding story illustrates how the wants/needs equation plays into the building of a successful brand. The brands that endure are those that blend savvy marketing with solid value. 

Doing your marketing homework up front will save substantial amounts of money and effort in the long run. Find a need and fill it is still the mantra of good marketing, but creating a strong brand for this need-filler will lead to success. Two things you should do include:

Develop a Customer Profile or Avatar – This is a person or persons who typify the type if client/customer/buyer of your business offerings. If you’re selling consumer products, find out where your customers work, where they live, their typical income and what they buy. If you selling to other businesses, you’ll want to identify the correct  person/job title in your target market and then find out what these prospects look for in the products/services you provide.

Assess Your Market Position – This process is typically defined as being an effort to influence customer perception of a product/service brand relative to the perception of competing products or services. The goal of positioning is to situate your enterprise offerings (or brand) in a clear, unique and advantageous position in the perception of your prospective buyers. 

To accomplish this you should do the following:

A) look at the competition, see how they are perceived relative to their market.

B) analyze the factors that affect positioning: quality, price, experience, reliability, etc. 

C) Looking at the competition in your target market,  where does your enterprise fit (or could fit, when launched)? Do your offerings/pricing put you in the premium category, a value brand or middle tier?

 I understand that market position is relative and their are many factors that define it. However, it’s important early on in your enterprise to try and position your enterprise where others will see

Focus on Niche Marketing. 

Once you have defined your market(s), it’s essential that you find a niche for your enterprise. Put simply, niche marketing is all about value and uniqueness. You want to offer products/services that no one else is offering, or to offer established products/services in a new and better way. In addition, take this a step further by developing a secondary or tertiary niche, which will provide you with an even better chance of ongoing success. Here is a hypothetical example:

An accounting practice with five CPAs is looking to specialize, so it launches a niche marketing program, including:

  • Niche 1 – specializing in smaller enterprises 
  • Niche 2 – further specializing in smaller commercial enterprises
  • Niche 3 – specializing even further by offering services tailored to the accounting needs of smaller insurance brokerages and real estate brokerage

If you perform your due diligence when developing an identity for your new enterprise, you will be adding an important component to your blueprint for success

Tips: The Four O’s In A Successful Start Up

Many of us like to have our business advice compacted into easily remembered information nuggets. You know, things like The Five Rules of …. , Ten Ways To Improve Profits… etc. So, here is one more to add to your list: THE FOUR Os.

When contemplating a start up, or in making market plans for an existing enterprise, there are four essential ingredients in structuring the marketing of products or services. These elements are common to most successful marketing strategies.

And they are neatly packaged into memorable nuggets as they all begin with the letter O.

Observation

Business ideas often begin with an observation. Some might also call it inspiration. In fact, it’s the simple act of noticing a need that is being filled or not being filled. Once you observe this need, it’s important to look around, investigate, speak with those in the same area to determine the specifics of the need.

Example: In the early 1950s, the McDonald brothers of San Bernardino CA observed a need for a no frills, high quality/low cost source for hamburgers and were inspired to create a highly efficient system to deliver such product quickly, thus pioneering the fast food concept.

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Opportunity

Once you have identified a market need via observation, you must then assess the scope of the opportunity. This means that you need to perform your due diligence on the potential of your observed need to be sufficiently successful to support operations and produce a profit. You must research the potential size of the opportunity to make sure that it’s success is sustainable into the future.

Example: Entrepreneurial salesman Ray Kroc observed the McDonald Brothers’ marketing phenomenon and recognized the enormous opportunity inherent in franchising this idea. We all know the rest of the story.

Example: Or perhaps I should call this Examples, as I’m talking about the numerous .com enterprises launched in the 1990s and early 2000s. Many of these were inspired ideas that attracted investors aplenty. Many also crashed and burned. A famous example is that of an online grocery store (I’ll omit the name of this venture) with enormous selection, high quality products and low prices–– plus your order was delivered to your doorstep! Sounds great now, right, and there are numerous versions of this idea floating around today, not even including Amazon, which is similar in basic concept.

The lesson of these two OPPORTUNITY examples is in the old adage: Pioneers get slaughtered, settlers flourish.

Open Mindedness

This is another way of saying “eyes wide open” when venturing into a start up. The lessons of being a pioneer in your niche needs to considered. True, some pioneers make millions: Jobs, Gates, Musk, Edison, Ford, Kroc, but there are hordes of truly inspired enterprisers who had great ideas that either didn’t come to fruition or failed to thrive.

We enterprisers tend to fall in love with our business visions–– starry-eyed, we sometimes only see the positive and overlook or minimize the negatives.

To be successful, you must perform a a truly objective risk analysis and understand that all business is risk. You must be ready to walk away or consider a new configuration if the facts point to increased risk of failure.

Example: There are too many to single out any one example here. I suggest you search the topic: business startups that failed and why.

Obtainability

The last “O” in this list, obtainability, refers to the potential of your enterprising idea to be brought to life. If you’ve made it through the first three Os and you’re still optimistic about the viability of your start up, the next question is focused more on you, now that you think the business idea sound and sustainable.

Here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Do I have the skills to make this enterprise work?
  • Do I have sufficient capital to launch and if I don’t, can I raise it?
  • Do I have the temperament, attitude and personality to take risks?
  • Will my current life situation and status support an entrepreneurial venture?

Example: Ted (last name removed for privacy) came to me for consultation about two years ago. He had a been a strategic analyst but couldn’t stand the big corporation culture. He had an idea to start a strategic marketing consulting firm for smaller businesses. He failed miserably and here’s why:

  • His OBSERVATION of smaller businesses using such a service was faulty and his due diligence inadequate. 
  • Ted failed to research the scope of OPPORTUNITY for this service. Many small businesses practice “grass roots” marketing and don’t utilize tools such as strategic and/or market analytics. Ted’s lack of OPEN MINDEDNESS let him mistakenly see a “market niche” for these services. He was blinded to the fact that there was an “opening” in this market because very few businesses in this segment were buying such services.
  • Lastly, Ted also failed to honestly asses whether he had the means to OBTAIN this business. He did not. He had little experience with smaller businesses, lacked tenacity and life experience to wade into this market, and then make adjustments.

If you’re out there getting ready to launch a startup, or you’re in the early days of your first enterprise, remember it’s not about U. Remember your Os.

Converting Business Dreams Into Reality: Three Case Studies

Creating an enterprise takes more than dreaming, it requires a marriage of vision with opportunity.

Starting a self-employed enterprise is an exciting prospect for many people. For those who have longed to leave the 9-to-5 world, or for someone who wants out from an intolerable job, it’s a dream come true. For some, it embodies the American Dream mythology.  This is where you need to be careful. The roots of the American dream are embedded in the opportunities that America offered to immigrants and the indigenous poor, for a chance at a better life. In other words, American dreaming is about opportunity and capitalizing on this opportunity to improve one’s station in life.

“Build it and they will come.”                                                                 Well, sometimes.

Must of us are familiar with this oft-stated line from the movie FIELD OF DREAMS. Very often, people follow their dreams or passions into business and sadly, these enterprises sometimes fail–– despite the presence of a good idea and a willingness to work hard. Why? In my experience, it’s often a case of failing to shape the vision of a business enterprise by assessing how and where the opportunity exists. The successful establishment of a business enterprise–– whether it be a solo free lancing gig or a startup product manufacturing business–– begins well before the launch date. Success starts not necessarily with a dream, but with a vision that incorporates market opportunity.

Find a Need and Fill It. 

It’s okay to want an enterprise of your own creation: something you love.  But, to truly succeed, an opportunity (or multiple opportunities) must exist in your field of business. In fact, the most successful enterprises start with an existing need. It’s natural to want to take your passion and find a way to sell it. However, you increase the chances of success when you observe a need and then find a way to marry that need to your skills, interests and expertise/experience.

Here are a few case examples:

Amber’s Story: For some American Dreamers, the dream lies in just being self-employed. Being the boss is reward in itself. They are seeking opportunity first and figuring out what they can do to fill it.  

Take the case of Amber. She was working as a field auditor for a major accounting firms and hated the travel. With a toddler, and a new baby on the way, Amber recognized that she wanted to be home with her kids. She began looking for opportunities and matching these to any skills or products she could offer. In the end, she chose the obvious: working as a CPA with small businesses in her community, building a strong network of clients. Working solo— and, working from home–– Amber kept her expenses down and her rates lower which attracted small business clients.

Convert Your Passion Into a Paying Enterprise.

As stated earlier, it’s okay to want to spend your working life doing something you love. The problem with this is that there may not be a market for what you love. Still, for some, opportunity and passion merge to form a happy marriage. 

Charlie’s Story:  A passionate golfer, Charles loved to say that when he wasn’t at work, he wanted to play golf, and when he wasn’t playing golf, he wanted to talk golf. Charles was more fortunate than most in that he was a salesperson for a large manufacturer that produced control panels for utilities. Often, he would go on golf outings with prospects or clients but there was all the other time he spent in meetings, or in the home office, where he dreamed of the greens. One day, opportunity literally showed up at his door when the regional VP of his company asked him to organize a day-long golf outing for a large party of clients. “I don’t want the club to do it, Charlie, they always screw things up. This is a job that I know you can do better than anyone.” And Charlie did do it better, because he knew and loved the entire golf experience. When it was over, one of the company’s clients said to Charlie, “This was one of the best golf outings I’ve ever attended, Charlie,” and then jokingly added, “You should do this for a living!”  Those words resonated with Charlie and in less than a year, he was doing just that—selling event management services for large corporate and non-profit golf outings.

Necessity is the Mother of Opportunity. 

Donny’s Story: Donny was an executive vice president at one of the nation’s largest banking conglomerates. He was living a life that he loved, and had worked hard to achieve, when the Great Recession hit in 2009. Within six months, he was laid off. He received a decent severance payment and some layoff benefits, but it was hardly a golden parachute. Donny began job hunting furiously, but his age – over 55 – and a slow economic recovery were working against him. Three years later, his savings were drying up and he was getting fewer job interviews. He decided to go into business for himself, although he hated the very idea. He began looking for opportunities. He did have a law degree but hadn’t practiced since his mid-twenties. He thought of his experience in banking when he was young, handling mortgages and title transfers. This was something he knew that he could do, so he began looking for a place to set up shop. He decided that since the nearest town was a county seat, it was a good place to start. Donny is now in his fifth year and growing, despite his reservations about self-employment.

You Need a Flexible Business Development Plan. 

The examples above offer a very clear message:  let opportunity define your enterprise. LISTENING is one of the most important qualities any enterpriser can have. This is not limited to hearing what people say, but also includes being sensitive to trends in your marketplace, reactions to your business, and feedback from customers/clients. You must also be ready to change your offering(s) based on the reactions of the marketplace. If you start out with a rigid plan for your enterprise, then you are likely to be less open to listening to the marketplace.

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LEARN HOW TO SHAPE YOUR BUSINESS VISION!

NEVER WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE is an essential handbook for anyone contemplating self employment or business start up. Includes step-by-step guides in the important process of business development.

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Business Startup Tip: Recognize, Capitalize On Opportunity

Let Your Dream Of Self Employment Take Flight

Getting a job has been so culturally conditioned in our psyches that it’s almost inconceivable to think about being self-employed. Think I’m wrong? Exaggerating?

Consider your friends and family. How many are self-employed? Now, think about your high school or college classmates. How many chose to work for themselves?

If you are like most of us, you will come up with only a handful of individuals. Why? Because self-employment was not typically presented as an option for a working life in the last 50 years.  Now, it’s satisfying to see that colleges and universities are starting schools of entrepreneurial studies and at least giving students some insight into another viable, occupational alternative. 

To prepare you for the transition from employment to self-employment, there are a few key changes you will have to make in your thinking and outlook.

___________________________________________________________________

Learn The Important Steps to Retraining Your Brain

NEVER WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE is an essential handbook for anyone contemplating self employment or business start up. Includes step-by-step guides in the important process of business development.

Now just $2.99!   Get it here .

___________________________________________________________________Understanding Opportunity. 

For many in the working market, or about to enter the market, opportunity is defined as security. The aim of many of these people is job security, or at least the promise of a stable work environment and a regular paycheck. This really isn’t opportunity; it’s a situation. In a more vintage version of a job description, it was said that one was looking for a situation, with the implication that you want to settle into your job/situation: one that will sustain you for years to come. Then, there is self-employment. When you are self-employed, you are driven by the opportunity, not the situation (think America, Land of Opportunity). Your “situation” is the enterprise that you create to capitalize on opportunity. Security is not the sole objective of creating an enterprise, but can be the by-product of pursuing that opportunity.

Retrain Your Brain

 In order to recognize and capitalize on opportunity, you need to first retrain your brain. Stop thinking like an employee and focus like an enterpriser.  When you see an opportunity, figure-out how to marry this chance with your talents, resources and products. Our conditioning – especially for those born and raised in the years since 1945 – has programmed us to avoid free thinking when it comes to careers, occupations or employment. For many of us, our collective experience in preparing for working life— from parents, elders, educators, counselors— has been to focus on obtaining a situation within a large organization. Corporations, governments, health-care institutions and similar organizations have been the suggested end points for young people seeking employment for as far back as I can remember.

View Yourself and Your World in a New Way 

As mentioned above, a large part of the transition to self-employment involves changing those neural pathways that were cut over decades. First, you  must learn to think like an entrepreneur, or perhaps a better word might be enterpriser. By this term, I refer to someone who views work as a series of opportunities. An enterpriser can still have a career— that is, working in one profession for a lifetime. The difference is that this career will be punctuated by a series of opportunities.

Know Your Business. 

Be sure to do your market research and get a clear picture of what you can expect. For example:

  • If you’re launching a product/service in an established market, then the task of introducing your brand may be easier and quicker to start earning.
  • If you’re entering a mature market that has a crowded marketplace, expect that it may take time to break through and begin earning.
  • If you’re introducing a new product/service, or even a new approach to a traditional product/service, you will have to educate prospective customers/clients before you can sell to them. This takes time.

Get Frames of Reference. 

Talk to business owners and managers who operate enterprises similar to yours. Find out how long it took them to succeed. Ask about problems/issues that they encountered. If you have realistic examples to draw upon, you will have realistic expectations for your enterprise.

Launching a new enterprise and hiring yourself for the first time is a daunting task. However, if you go into this task well-prepared, the angst and anxiety of the unknown can be minimized. Here are a few things that you can do to help you reduce the stress of converting from traditional employment to self-employment.

 

Build Your New Business On A Solid Foundation: Get Good Legal Counsel At The Start

It’s more tempting than ever to handle the legal set up of a new business yourself. Online forms. Web-based business entity registration. You have enough start up costs, so why not save money on legal fees now when your business is small. You can always hire a lawyer later to fine tune the details—right?

Not exactly.

“In the decades that I’ve been counseling and coaching business start ups I see people make this mistake over and over,” says Peter Ancone, self employment blogger — https://createyourdreamjob.com — and book author and lecturer on self employment. “Setting up a business is more than registration. You need to know what kind of business entity best fits, and will continue to fit, your business model in the future.”

The corporate entity documents you file will define your enterprise as it grows. Whether it’s an Operating Agreement for an LLC, or a Charter and Bylaws for a Corporation, business start ups often make their first mistake by trying to handle these steps themselves.

“When this happens, the owner manager of the start up doesn’t realize what went wrong until it’s too late. These business governance documents will set the procedures, and parameters, for running your businesses,” explains Stephen J. Labroli, Esquire, business law attorney and Partner in the Delaware Valley law firm of Leonard, Sciolla, Hutchison, Leonard & Tinari LLP (https://www.leonardsciolla.com/news/).

 

Stephen Labroli practices in the firm’s Business Law and Commercial and Civil Litigation practice groups. He is admitted to practice in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Which business entity form fits your enterprise?

At this point, you should have considered which legal entity your enterprise should be. Below are the types of legal entities you should be considering.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the most basic type of business to establish. You, alone, own the company and are responsible for its assets and liabilities. Learn more about the sole proprietor structure.

Limited Liability Company

An LLC is designed to provide the limited liability features of a corporation and the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership. Learn more about how LLCs are structured.

Cooperative

People form cooperatives to meet a collective need or to provide a service that benefits all member-owners. Learn more about how cooperatives are structured.

Corporation

A corporation is more complex and is generally suggested for larger, established companies with multiple employees. Learn more about how corporations are structured.

Partnership

There are several different types of partnerships, which depend on the nature of the arrangement and partner responsibility for the business. Learn more about how these are structured.

Whichever entity you choose, make sure you hire a qualified attorney to form the entity. I have seen many enterprises end up with a truckload of troubles because they failed to spend the money needed to obtain good legal advice.

Are You Ready For Self Employment?

Assessing Your Core Skills and Personality for Success In The Self Employed Life.

For most of us, our working life impacts our daily life in many ways. Often, it determines where we live, when we sleep or eat, how often we see our family, or even if we can have a family, the quality of our life, as it relates to income and earnings, and the quality of life as it relates to personal time. These are very strong and attractive reasons for hiring yourself or starting a business. So, now you’ve done your homework, evaluated your product/service, matched it/them to market opportunity.

You feel strongly that your enterprise idea is a sound one and that the self employment life is attainable. The next question is: Do you have the core skills and temperament to do it? This is often where some new enterprisers drop the ball. They are frustrated with their current working situation, or they see a great opportunity and get caught up in the moment, moving ahead, into the self-employed life, without a thought of their personal suitability.

Here are a few key points you need to consider. If you answer in the affirmative for most of these, then you may make a good candidate for self-employment.

Results Matter to You. If you are ready to lead and focus on getting the job done, you will most likely do well as an enterpriser. Not so valuable, however, is obsessive tinkering or perfectionism. Success in self-employed enterprises depends on productivity and efficiency.

You Are a Proactive Person. If you are a planner, and the kind of person who sees opportunity and acts on it, then you possess one of the most important qualities for self-employment. If your personality is more reactive than proactive, or if you are one who prefers to let others take point, then you will be better served in a conventional job.

You Believe in Working Smarter, Not Harder. It has become fashionable to brag about working long hours at the job, and billing a high number of hours. This is fool’s gold that people wear as a badge of honor. Being a beast of burden is not an honor, it’s a slight. 

You Want to Benefit Directly from Your Ideas and Work. If you’re going to be putting in the time and effort, you should reap the full reward. For others, the trade-off of their time and talent for a regular paycheck is sufficient.

You Want the Opportunity to Determine Your Income. When you are self-employed, you are not limited to a salary set by your employer. Your earning power is, for the most part, in your hands. Of course, there are other factors such as market conditions and competition, which can impact your earning potential. Still, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can do to improve your earning situation. 

You Aren’t Afraid of Risk. It takes money to make money and business is risk. If you cannot handle risk, or if you freak-out about losing money, don’t even consider self-employment. Whether you are a contract-for-hire 1099er, or you run a full-blown business operation, it’s likely that you are going to lose money at some point. If you are the kind of person who cannot put such things behind you, then you’re better off in a traditional job.

You Are Disciplined.  Success as a self-employed enterpriser requires a dedication and focus that is internally driven. In most situations, you will be the person determining the schedules, deadlines, key points of completion, etc. This is good and bad. While you get to choose how and when the work gets done, it also leaves opportunities for procrastination and goofing-off. It’s essential that the self-employed individual hits his or her marks, setting regular goals and adhering to them. Whether you work alone at home, or you have a business with employees, it’s vital to maintain a working discipline.

You Are Resourceful.  Over the years, I have observed that when posed with a difficult problem, many people will point out the obstacles to solving the problem. I have also noticed that enterprisers, when posed with a similarly difficult problem, tend to focus on the solutions to the problem.  In the end, both may find the answer, but the typical self-employed person steps forward with ideas and support. Many employees have been conditioned in the cover-your-ass mode, and often, the first things from their mouths are reasons why they might fail. The enterpriser is oriented toward challenges and finding answers. 

Personality Types Who Should Probably Avoid Self-Employment

Procrastinators: Without someone forcing them to do their job, they will put off work until it drives them out of business and self-employment.

Perfectionists: Beauty may be in the details, but the obsessive pursuit of perfection will reduce productivity and lead to a loss of profit.

Poor Time Managers: People who lack the ability to efficiently manage both short- and long-term time will struggle to remain successfully self-employed.

Poor Planners: Those people who prefer to “wait-and-see” usually do not work well in a self-employed environment. Being an enterpriser means being proactive, being a dreamer/schemer (I mean that in a good way) who systematically seeks opportunities, then develops strategy and tactics to capitalize.

These are some of the personal considerations and assessments that you should make regarding your ability to start and sustain a successful self-employed enterprise. If you feel you have the capabilities to do so, then read on and learn the steps you will need to take to make this dream a reality.

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Learn more about self employment in my book, NEVER WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE.

GET IT HERE!

 

Growing and Shaping Your Work Life.