Creating,Your,Own,Employment,S DIY Creating Your Own Employment Security


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"Well, it's happening. My employer, the County Health and WelfareSystem, is buying me out. I leave in April, 2002. Seems like a longtime from now, but I know it's really just around the corner. So howdo I evaluate my skills? And how do I begin a new career? And howdo I deal with the fear of the unknown, of the lack of income (otherthan the retirement check), of maybe working alone out of this office?"This is an extract of an email I received this week from an AHBBOsubscriber, Cecily. Just Friday, driving home from work, I heard thatFord was about to lay off between 4,000 and 5,000 employees from itsU.S. operation. So nothing unusual about Cecily's situation,unfortunately. Seems like every day we hear of more and morebusinesses being "forced" to downsize their workforces. What wedon't hear about every day is what happens to all those displacedworkers.Many people just look for another job, find one and get back into theratrace, all the while anxiously monitoring the financial performance oftheir new employer, hoping they won't get laid off again. For many,this is just the way the world works. And it always will be as long asthey continue to work for someone else. Do you really want to livelike this? Well, you don't have to. The solution, albeit not for everyone,is self-employment.In this article, we look at how to determine whether self-employmentcould be for you and how to turn that dream into reality.PERSONAL INVENTORYAs Cecily correctly identified, a personal skills analysis is an importantearly step. Your personal skills inventory is only one factor to takeinto account when considering whether self-employment may be foryou, however. Equally important are your strengths and weaknesses,interests, resources, attitude and other personal qualities.Your personal inventory should encompass at least the following:=> Skills AssessmentJust because you're good at something does not mean that younecessarily enjoy it. If you're good at something that bores you totears, then don't use that skill as the basis for your new business.You'll be miserable! But, if what you're good at is something you alsohappen to enjoy, then there's a HUGE clue about what your businessshould be all about.When thinking about your skills, think also in terms of skills you don'tpresently possess but which you could acquire with a reasonableinvestment in training. If acquiring a new skill would equip you to entera business that you think you could make succeed, then by all meansacquire that skill.To come up with an inventory of your particular skills, pull out all of yourold resumes (or create them if you don't have them) and recall what youdid in every job you had. Make a list of your activities and the skills thatwere necessary to perform them effectively.Here's some broad categories to start organizing your thoughts:* Communication - speaking and writing effectively; listening; expressingthoughts and ideas; negotiating; persuading; interviewing; editing;facilitating; responding appropriately.* Human Relations - motivating; delegating; dispute resolution;assertiveness; giving credit where due; developing team cohesivenessand rapport; sensitivity; listening skills; supportiveness; cooperation;cooperation; developing others.* Leadership - coordinating and motivating; coaching; counseling;change agent; conflict resolution; decision making; teaching; managinggroups; multitasking; initiating new ideas and programs.* Planning - forecasting and predicing; information gathering; needsanalysis; evaluation strategies; acquiring important information; ideageneration; problem identification; brainstorming; problem solving.* Effectiveness - implementation of decisions; cooperation; policyenforcement; accepting responsibility; organizing; making decisions;punctuality; time management; attention to detail; goal attainment;meeting deadlines.=> StrengthsWhen considering what strengths you possess that you could drawand build upon in a business of your own, think in terms not only ofpersonal qualities such as determination, commitment and dedicationbut also to tangibles such as educational qualifications and financialreserves.=> WeaknesssesJust as you did with your strengths, focus on the tangible as well asthe intangible. Examples include zero financial resources, lack ofpersonal discipline; and poor health.=> ValuesValues are the things that are important to you and are divided intotwo types: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic values relate to what youwill be doing in a day to day sense and how valuable an activity youperceive that to be in the overall scheme of things. For example, ifyour business provides a service to your community's elders and youperceive this as being of high importance to society, then your businessmeets your intrinsic values.Extrinsic values, on the other hand, refer to the external features ofyour business such as your physical environment and profitpotential.By identifying those intrinsic and extrinsic values that are importantto you, and identifying the types of businesses that will satisfy thosevalues, is an important step in deciding whether a business of yourown is something worth pursuing. For YOU.=> PersonalityVarious personality tests have been devised to determine yourpersonality "type" with the idea that people belonging to certain typesdo particularly well in certain careers and businesses. Perhaps themost prolific basis of personality tests is Jung's Personality Theory,dividing people into eight personality types: extroverts, introverts,thinking, feeling, sensing, intuitive, judging and perceptive.If this interests you, you'll find no end of information online about thetypes of occupations and businesses suited to each personality type.Don't let the results of such a test play a disproportionate role in yourdecision-making process, though. Just use it as one of several factorsyou take into account.=> Interests and HobbiesThis one's a real no-brainer but it bears stating. Try and create abusiness around something that you're interested in. Although not acertain rule, you tend to perform better at what you enjoy and to enjoywhat you're good at.Be sure to look at the other side of the coin too and inventory whatyou're NOT interested in. Sometimes knowing what you DON'T wantto do makes it easier to see what you DO want to do.=> ResourcesThese include not only financial resources but others such as yourpersonal relationship network (who do you know who could help youin your new venture), office equipment and other facilities.=> AttitudeDo you have a "can do", optimistic attitude? Are you determined tosucceed whatever it takes? Do you believe you control your owndestiny or is life a series of random events that happen to you nomatter what you may have planned?=> Other Personal QualitiesFinally, think about the personal qualities that make you, you. Areyou energetic and motivated, are you resourceful, are you resilient,realistic and practical, a hard worker?Once you have completed your personal inventory, sit down and rankyour positives from highest to lowest. Then do the same thing withyour negatives. Once you've ranked your strengths and weaknessesin this way, you'll have something of a framework within which anyprospective business idea must fit. If your idea requires great strengthin an area where you're weak, toss it. If it requires strength in an areawhere you're strong, keep it. This is not a black and white exercise.Any idea you have will require any combination of skills and strengths.You must evaluate objectively whether your particular combination ofskills and strengths is enough to compensate for your particularweaknesses and make a success of the venture.IDEA GENERATIONSo, where are you to get the ideas against which to measure yourskills and strengths? First off, bear in mind there are a number ofapproaches to starting a business of your own. You may providea service; you may manufacture a product; you may distribute aproduct manufactured by someone else.A well-known schematic which sets out all the possible combinationsis as follows:1. Existing products/services and existing markets.2. New products/services and existing markets.3. Existing products/services and new markets.4. New products/services and new markets.If you focus on option 1. you face stiff competition. If you focus onoption 4. you have to invent the wheel first. So pay most attention tooptions 2. and 3.Take your skills inventory. What do you know and enjoy the most?Are you a specialist? Think about what you know. What do peoplebuy? What do people want but can't buy? What do people buy butdon't like? What are people buying more of? Where do they buy andwhen and how?When you've considered that, look at how you can change existingproducts or services to meet an unmet need, to meet a need in adifferent, more convenient way, to improve the quality or service. Beparticularly observant and on the lookout for emerging trends (anaging population, an increasing number of people working from homeetc.) and expanding market niches (e.g., increased reliance bybusinesses on outsourced services).During this process, employ any technique you can think of includingbrainstorming, asking people (novel but effective!), read trade magazinesand directories. Focus on your consumer and market, not on yourproduct. After all, there's no point in building a better mousetrap if no-oneneeds or wants one.By the way, don't forget, when you think in terms of your own business,self-employment includes independent contracting and consulting.Perfect outlets for what you know if what you know is in high demand.IDEA ASSESSMENTOnce you have a shortlist of business ideas to play with, start assessingthem as viable business opportunities. This means devoting time andeffort to assessment, research, development and planning.Examples of the types of activities you should be engaging in hereinclude:=> Talk about your product or service with prospective customers.Is there really demand for your offerings? If so, how strong? Howprice sensitive? What sets you apart from your competition?=> ResearchFind out everything you can about your target market and yourcompetition already servicing that market. Are price wars common?If so, you have too much competition. Are there only one or twobig players and no little ones? If so, the barriers to entry are toohigh. Look for markets where there is healthy competition betweenproduct/service providers but where profit margins are reasonable.=> Analyze your CompetitionWho are they, how are they structured, how long have they beenin business, what are their respective market shares, what setsyou apart?=> StrategizeHow would you start out? Can you start out part-time before youleave your paid job? Can you work from home? Will you startfrom scratch or buy and existing business or franchise? How willyou market your business?=> Prepare ProjectionsWork out what your expenses are likely to be and how much revenueyou need to be able to generate to break even. Then work out roughlyhow much revenue you need to make a predetermined amount of profit(remembering to factor in the cost of your time and finance expensessuch as loan repayments).How realistic are your revenue objectives? Are they attainable?Over what timeframe?PLANNING AND LAUNCHFinally, once you've identified an idea that makes it past the first cut(i.e. everything you've done to date), do the whole idea assessmentroutine again but this time being much more detailed and specific. Atthe end of this process you need to be able to produce a solid businessplan, one you can take to the bank if necessary. Even if you're notgoing to need outside financing, do your formal business plan anyway.It will help you ensure you've covered all the bases and left nothing out.By the time you finish your business plan, you should know yourbusiness inside out.All that's left is to put your plan into action and launch!Not surprisingly, the whole process from personal inventory to launchis not something you can do in a week. Ideally, it's something you willbe able to start BEFORE you lose your job since it will likely take youseveral months. But the returns on your investment can be substantial.Do it right and do it well and you will create for yourself your ownemployment, never again to be at the mercy of someone else todetermine your fate.But it's not an easy road. Self-employment is not a safe route. Itrewards the risk-takers and the resilient. You may not succeed onyour first attempt. But, as with anything in life, where there's a willthere's a way. If you are truly determined to create your own security,nothing compares to putting your destiny back where it belongs - inyour own two hands. Article Tags: Personal Inventory, You're Good

Creating,Your,Own,Employment,S

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