"Well, it's happening. My employer, County Health and Welfare System, is buying me out. I leave in April, 2002. Seems like a long time from now, but I know it's really just around corner. So how do I evaluate my skills? And how do I begin a new career? And how do I deal with fear of unknown, of lack of income (other than retirement check), of maybe working alone out of this office?"
This is an extract of an email I received this week from an AHBBO subscriber, Cecily. Just Friday, driving home from work, I heard that Ford was about to lay off between 4,000 and 5,000 employees from its U.S. operation. So nothing unusual about Cecily's situation, unfortunately. Seems like every day we hear of more and more businesses being "forced" to downsize their workforces. What we don't hear about every day is what happens to all those displaced workers.
Many people just look for another job, find one and get back into ratrace, all while anxiously monitoring financial performance of their new employer, hoping they won't get laid off again. For many, this is just way world works. And it always will be as long as they continue to work for someone else. Do you really want to live like 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-employment could be for you and how to turn that dream into reality.
As Cecily correctly identified, a personal skills analysis is an important early step. Your personal skills inventory is only one factor to take into account when considering whether self-employment may be for you, however. Equally important are your strengths and weaknesses, interests, resources, attitude and other personal qualities.
Your personal inventory should encompass at least following:
=> Skills Assessment
Just because you're good at something does not mean that you necessarily enjoy it. If you're good at something that bores you to tears, then don't use that skill as basis for your new business. You'll be miserable! But, if what you're good at is something you also happen to enjoy, then there's a HUGE clue about what your business should be all about.
When thinking about your skills, think also in terms of skills you don't presently possess but which you could acquire with a reasonable investment in training. If acquiring a new skill would equip you to enter a business that you think you could make succeed, then by all means acquire that skill.
To come up with an inventory of your particular skills, pull out all of your old resumes (or create them if you don't have them) and recall what you did in every job you had. Make a list of your activities and skills that were necessary to perform them effectively.
Here's some broad categories to start organizing your thoughts:
* Communication - speaking and writing effectively; listening; expressing thoughts and ideas; negotiating; persuading; interviewing; editing; facilitating; responding appropriately.
* Human Relations - motivating; delegating; dispute resolution; assertiveness; giving credit where due; developing team cohesiveness and rapport; sensitivity; listening skills; supportiveness; cooperation; cooperation; developing others.
* Leadership - coordinating and motivating; coaching; counseling; change agent; conflict resolution; decision making; teaching; managing groups; multitasking; initiating new ideas and programs.
* Planning - forecasting and predicing; information gathering; needs analysis; evaluation strategies; acquiring important information; idea generation; problem identification; brainstorming; problem solving.
* Effectiveness - implementation of decisions; cooperation; policy enforcement; accepting responsibility; organizing; making decisions; punctuality; time management; attention to detail; goal attainment; meeting deadlines.
When considering what strengths you possess that you could draw and build upon in a business of your own, think in terms not only of personal qualities such as determination, commitment and dedication but also to tangibles such as educational qualifications and financial reserves.
Just as you did with your strengths, focus on tangible as well as intangible. Examples include zero financial resources, lack of personal discipline; and poor health.
Values are things that are important to you and are divided into two types: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic values relate to what you will be doing in a day to day sense and how valuable an activity you perceive that to be in overall scheme of things. For example, if your business provides a service to your community's elders and you perceive this as being of high importance to society, then your business meets your intrinsic values.
Extrinsic values, on other hand, refer to external features of your business such as your physical environment and profit potential.
By identifying those intrinsic and extrinsic values that are important to you, and identifying types of businesses that will satisfy those values, is an important step in deciding whether a business of your own is something worth pursuing. For YOU.
Various personality tests have been devised to determine your personality "type" with idea that people belonging to certain types do particularly well in certain careers and businesses. Perhaps most 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 types of occupations and businesses suited to each personality type. Don't let results of such a test play a disproportionate role in your decision-making process, though. Just use it as one of several factors you take into account.
=> Interests and Hobbies
This one's a real no-brainer but it bears stating. Try and create a business around something that you're interested in. Although not a certain rule, you tend to perform better at what you enjoy and to enjoy what you're good at.
Be sure to look at other side of coin too and inventory what you're NOT interested in. Sometimes knowing what you DON'T want to do makes it easier to see what you DO want to do.
These include not only financial resources but others such as your personal relationship network (who do you know who could help you in your new venture), office equipment and other facilities.