Small Business Academy

18 Jul

Lost Your Job? Why Not Start Your Own Business

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If you recently lost your job it may not have come as a great surprise or maybe it did. Either way it is still an emotional experience that can bring up a lot of doubt, fear, and worry. Once the initial trauma and surprise have passed you will come to the next phase, deciding what to do next. You could do one of several things. First, you could start sending out applications and resume’s in the hope that you may be selected by a new employer for another position. As another alternative you could go back to school and try to become re-trained in an entirely new field, but I would like to consider another option. Why not take your knowledge, experience, and skills and create your own business? Why leave the future and wellbeing of you and your family to the whims of someone else? You have something to offer to the world so why not take advantage of the situation you now find yourself in and chart your own destiny.

As it happens, right now is a great time to do just that. Given our current economical status large corporations are looking for independent contractors, consultants, project managers, and others to outsource some of their work in an effort to reduce costs of internal labor and benefits. It is not unheard of to even outsource some executive leadership positions on a short term year or two bases. So how do you know if you have what it takes to leave the unemployment lines and become a successful business owner? Start by asking yourself a few questions that I have listed below. If the answer is yes then it is time to take control of your future.

· Do you provide a skill or service that is in demand in today’s economy?

· Do you have potential clients or people you know from your last job that could become potential clients?

· Can you sell yourself and your business to potential clients?

· Do you have the discipline and patience to build a business of your own?

· Do you have enough money to live on while you introduce your business to clients?

· Do you know how to use the Internet as a business tool?

· Do you know someone else that has some of the skills you don’t that would make a good business partner?

If the answer to these questions is yes then a brand new future awaits you. You may find in your new life that working for yourself is more profitable, enjoyable, secure, and suits your lifestyle better than being just a cog in the corporate machine. Not everyone has the inner entrepreneurial drive. However, for those who do and have a skill, service, or product that is in demand can see their lives change in dramatic fashion. If you are considering becoming a small business owner below you will find some tips to help you get started.

1. Brush up on your sales skills. This can’t be stressed enough. As a small business owner, you are also the sales manager (along with everything else). Your sales presentation and you need to be convincing. Have a professional do a mock presentation with you on videotape, and study how you did. Attend a sales and marketing seminar, or stop by your local book store and read every sales book you can. You may not have been born with sales skills, but they can be learned. If necessary, check out classes on sales techniques at your nearest university or community college. The investment is well worth it, in terms of the confidence you will gain as well as the advice that could help you throughout your career.

2. Recognize that your sales skills are every bit as important as your business skills. Many technical workers would rather sit behind a computer all day rather than network or attend networking or business meetings. The truth is that you can never stop selling as a small business owner, so you must get comfortable meeting people, shaking hands, talking about your business, and handing out business cards.

3. Balancing selling while serving clients. Those who succeed at becoming a small business owner know that when one project ends, they’ve got to have another lined up and ready to go. That means you can’t ignore your sales role and procuring new business while you are servicing the needs of your current client. Do I sell or do I service? The truth is that you’ve got to find a way to do both simultaneously.

4. Get a professional looking Web site. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars for a fancy Web site. There are many hosting services that also provide “drop and drag” capability for building your own website for just a few dollars a month. Keep your site professional by not missing in personal information and photos. Your best bet is to have a simple, professional-looking Web site built by you or for you inexpensively, where you provide only your relevant business and sales info. Personally, I like Microsoft Small Business Live because of it’s low cost, ease of use (very user friendly), and integration with other Office products that makes running my business a snap.

5. Invest in a search-engine submission service. You won’t get very far with the “if I build it, they will click” attitude. If you have a Web site and want to generate traffic to it, you need a high-value and affordable search-engine submission service. My personal favorite is Traffic Geyser but there are many more out there so take some time and check them out.

6. Contact everyone on your contact list. Make sure all of the business contacts you have developed over the years know about your new venture. Enlist their support. Develop new contacts and keep your contact list up-to-date. This one step made all the difference when I launched my own company.

7. Make yourself visible in your field and in your community. Memberships in professional and community organizations should enable you to network with people who can help you succeed on your own. Try to look for organizations that your potential clients belong to as a way of building your customer base. Volunteering for good causes, you can build goodwill, brand awareness, and reputation within your local community. It is also a great opportunity for a press release to your local media.

8. Rally the support of your spouse, partner, and friends. Becoming a small business owner, especially for the first time, can be both daunting and exhilarating. Having family and friends behind you can make it all worth while. Make sure your spouse or partners are in agreement, in synch and in tune with what you are doing. Enlist your friends’ support as well. They can support you when you need it and share in your joy as you succeed because they know how much effort has gone into building a successful business of your own.

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