Creating Opportunities

It doesn’t take much effort to find out about the economy these days. Whether you turn on the radio, open a magazine or newspaper, or walk into your job it seems that everyone is being affected in some way by the status of our world.

The job market is absolutely dismal. There was a time, not so long ago, that when I opened the classified section of my local newspaper, I saw rows upon rows of job ads; but now, well it’s a completely different story. There was a day, only a few weeks back, that the entire classified section was 4 pages long and the actual job ads were hidden so well I actually thought there were none. I did manage to find those 5 lonely ads, and none of them seemed very worthwhile to the average person.

What are people doing if they’re faced with layoffs and can’t find new work? They’re taking their future in their own hands. They’re creating their own opportunities. They’re taking ideas that have been banging around inside their heads and beginning to implement them. The general consensus is that it’s time to take a shot at their business idea.

Of course, one of the major obstacles that small business owners will face is the crunch on credit. Banks and lenders are simply not willing or able to risk lending out money like they used to, and that will apply to new businesses as well. The good news is that there are a lot of government funded programs that will help you on your way. A quick search on the internet or phone call to your local government office will reveal any resources in your area. Ontario, Canada offers a program that, although it varies in each location, provides financial help for those who are starting their own business.

There is an invaluable resource at www.sba.gov for US residents including information on how to gain access to SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) that provides free expert advice on virtually every aspect of business. There is also a fantastic section on managing your business from start to finish that includes writing a business plan, obtaining financial assistance, marketing, taxes, and even information on how to get out of business.

Before you close this webpage and run out to start opening your business, there are a few steps you should take. First, take some time. If you get laid off, or you are concerned you may get that pink slip allow it to sink in. Job loss is a major life event, and adding another one like opening a new business, may be too much for you to handle all at once. There are major decisions to be made within a new business and you may not be quite ready to make those decisions at the moment. Give yourself a few weeks to adjust to the shock and emotions, and then start planning your future.

When choosing a business, you’ll need to assess your actual skill level and experience. Also be sure that this is something you love doing! If you’ve spent 20 years as an accountant and didn’t enjoy your job much, then opening your own accounting business may be right up your alley in terms of skill and experience, but I guarantee you will fail because you will loose your interest in your business.

Do your homework when it comes to the industry in general. The major reason you probably lost your job was because of the huge upheaval in different markets, and you’ll want to ensure that your business won’t be affected in the same way. One of the most critical things you can do when it comes to a business plan is your market research. It may be hard to hear that your business idea isn’t going to float – but it’s much better to hear it now, then a year from now after you’ve put your heart, soul, and savings into it.

Lastly, be SMART about your goals. Your goals need to be Specific in that you know who is involved, what you’d like to accomplish, your purpose behind the goal, etc. Make it measurable so that you’ll know if you go off target. You’ll need criteria to determine whether or not you are achieving your goals. Attainable and Realistic goals don’t mean you can’t set the bar high. But you must be realistic in the goals you set for yourself. For example, if you have the ability to have 80 billable hours in a month, and you charge a flat rate of $10.00 per hour, it is unrealistic that at the end of year one in your business your bank account will be nearing the quarter million dollar mark. And Timely goals are ones that are set within a specific time frame – whether it is one month, one year, or ten years, you need to know when your goal should be achieved.

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