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Two sample articles are featured on this page: Be Prepared for a Job Change (Road to Success) and 10 Inexpensive Ways to Market Your Business (or Yourself) (Parker' s Points). For other articles by Alvah Parker check the bottom of this page. For an archive of recent Road to Success and Parker's Points issues click here.
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For Career Changers
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For other articles by Alvah Parker check the bottom of this page. For an archive of recent Road to Success and Parker's Points issues click here.
Be Prepared For A Job Change
My client, John, had recently lost his job. What was most puzzling to him was that up until he got his notice his manager had given him very positive feedback about his performance. The truth was the company had eliminated the budget for his job function. His work was good but they decided they did not need that work done any more.
At 50 years old he was just fed up by the general lack of integrity he saw in employers and came to SCORE to learn more about how to start his own business. The other SCORE counselor and I were surprised when he immediately took charge of the agenda. (Note: SCORE is a volunteer organization of business owners and corporate executives some of whom are retired. It is part of the Small Business Administration in the US. SCORE members counsel thousands of businesses every year at no cost to the business owner.)
He had prepared a short presentation to show us exactly what his skills were and the kind of business he was planning. He then presented a potential client list. This list was made up of people he knew in the area and people with whom he had had past business relationships that he had nurtured over the years. It was an impressive list. Finally he told us about his financial reserves and what he thought he would be able to invest in himself in order to get the business off the ground.
The other counselor and I were amazed. It is rare that anyone is that well prepared. He certainly had a jump-start on the process. He would need our help to get a business plan together but given his presentation we knew he was well on the way to his "Road to Success".
Of course he had concerns. Having a paycheck coming in on a regular basis along with insurance and other benefits provided a sense of security that he wanted too. At this point though he was beginning to believe that even working for someone else was not secure. The real reason for his enthusiasm for having his own business was that he would be able to design the life he really wanted to live and part of that life would be a business that he could run with integrity-his vision.
More and more laid off workers are thinking of starting a business as an option for themselves. They commonly ask us how long it will take to get going. It's a question with no easy answer. It depends on the preparation that is done and the best time to have done that preparation is while working for someone else!
I've written before about the importance of having plan B. It could be that for today's environment you need both a plan B and a plan C. If plan B is a plan for getting your next job working for an employer and then plan C is one for working for yourself. The good news is that some of what you do for plan B will be useful for plan C. You can start both by defining your skills, talents, values and behavioral style. Which of your skills, talents and values are most important to you? Based on your behavioral style how do you like to communicate? Where are the gaps between what you have and what you need? Where can you get training on the things you need to learn?
For both plans you need to be aware of the marketplace trends. Just as you will ask yourself, "Where is my employer or industry headed?" for plan B, you will ask yourself "What is happening that will affect my business?" for plan C. Trends give you an incite into what people are buying or doing.
In my opinion today everyone needs to think of himself as self employed. Employers aren't going to take care of employees the way they have in the past. In the US we have only to look at what they are doing to health insurance, pensions and training. A person can't depend on them even when they are employed. If you are not actively updating your skills yourself, working on understanding yourself better, saving money to create substantial reserves, and planning for a non-employed period in your life, your time to re-employment will be adversely affected.
My client had done his homework. He knew his skills, had a network, had enough reserves to carry him while he went through a few months of start up expense, and had a vision of what his life would be like when he was running his own business. With all this pre-work done and with a good business plan his chances for success are high.
- Make a list of your skills and talents? Make a list of business ideas using these skills and talents as a basis? Explore these and find a fit.
- Make a list of the people in your network. If you already have a list, make sure you have everyone listed in a good contact manager. Find a good process to maintain contact with the people in your network.
- Begin to write a business plan to see if any of your business ideas could make enough money to support you.
- Visualize yourself as a business owner. What do you do all day? What parts of the life are attractive to you? What parts are unattractive? Is there a way to visualize this so you will feel drawn to it and energized by it?
10 Inexpensive Ways to Market Your Business and/or Yourself
- Have a compelling response to the question "What do you do?" or "Tell me about yourself" Make it brief and interesting. If you only have 30 seconds, give them enough of an idea about what you do so that they seek you out to hear more later. Even in a situation where you have more time, be brief but to the point and then allow them to ask questions. Their questions will give you an idea of their particular interest.
- Join or create a leads exchange group. Find or create a group that has members with businesses aimed at a similar target market to yours. Job seekers find others looking in the same industries. If you join a group where everyone markets to consumers and you market to businesses, you probably won't be able to give or get many leads.
- Use every social occasion as a networking opportunity. Have your business cards ready if someone asks for one.
- Offer to give a talk at a business meeting or teach a course at a school or training center. Use your expertise to generate interest in you and/or your business.
- Put an article about you or your business in a local newspaper. Local papers are often eager to print information about people in the area. Introduce yourself to the editor or person at your local paper who is responsible for press releases. Find out the information required for the article and learn to write a press release for newspapers.
- Form strategic partnerships with others. If there are other businesses related to yours, seek them out and establish your own relationships. For example if you are an wedding planner you will want to form partnerships with florists, photographers, bands, DJs etc. Refer to your strategic partners and they in turn will refer to you. Job seekers find some partners who are at a higher level than you and who when they find jobs will help you find one in their new company. Of course you must plan to do the same for them.
- Make a list of testimonials from customers to use with potential customers or employers. Make these testimonials part of your brochure and/or website, and have as a separate document to put into proposals.
- Model what you sell. If you are a web designer, have a spectacular website. If you sell clothes make sure your own fashion statement is flawless and creates the appropriate image.
- Use a domain name that tells what your business is i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org. When someone calls Bob they will probably ask him what he builds. The email address itself opens conversation.
- Create a unique style or logo that make you memorable. Establish yourself or your logo as a brand so people remember you. Frank Purdue did it as a person. Coca Cola does it as a logo. You can do it too!
Read another sample article:
Money Expresses Your Values
Too Much On My Plate
What's Plan B
Your Career is Your Business
Matching Your Values to Your Company's Values
Grow or Go
What Makes You Happy
Growing Your Network
Live and Learn
Stress free living a myth
Need less and have more
Without you there is nothing!