Forget the workforce, create your own employment

Posted October 13, 2011, by Sue Stevens

Don't wait for redundancy, think about starting your own business now!

There is no doubt that the global economic downturn has been the cause of many job losses since the crisis began in 2008. The recession has also created some anxiety about job security amongst those still employed. But regardless of the doom and gloom, some workers see this as the perfect time to jump out of full-time employment and into their own businesses.

So rather than waiting for the tap on the shoulder that sees your job disappear, why not start thinking about whether your skills and knowledge are transferable to self-employment?

Why start your own business?

Over one million Australians run their own home-based business, according to, and that doesn’t account for all those small businesses that operate from separate business premises. Many well-known companies, including Adobe, Intel, Compaq and Microsoft, started out in recessions or economic downturns, according to Vivek Wadhwa of Harvard Law School, writing in Business Weekly. And a familiar pattern with many successful start-ups is that they began in the garages and second bedrooms of family homes.

Running your own business gives you the freedom to call the shots and take risks. It also gives you the opportunity to turn your passion into a household name and find financial security.

The first steps

Ask yourself the following questions to see if whether running your own show is a viable option.

  • What skills do you have and are you entrepreneurial? Fundamental to starting your own business is the right business temperament.
  • What is the nature of the business you could provide?
  • What competition would you have and how can you differentiate yourself from competitors?
  • How would you get customers? Do you have a network that you can access? Is marketing one of the skills that you will need?
  • What are the benefits of running your own business rather than working full time?
  • What are the drawbacks?
  • What are your reasons for starting your own business? It may not be money. It may be that you are looking for flexibility, variety of work, or a different lifestyle.
  • How much will it cost to set up your business?
  • More importantly, how much can you earn? The business needs to be viable otherwise all you have is a hobby!

Which option should I take?

So what work options are in demand? Any type of consulting work that doesn’t require extensive and expensive overheads is a good option. Becoming a consultant could also provide you with a changed and better lifestyle. In many instances, with companies mindful of cutting costs, hiring freelance consultants for specific work – rather than having paid employees – is expanding as companies seek to reduce their overheads.

What businesses should you avoid? Unless you have good backing and lots of capital, avoid any business that requires huge upfront outlays for inventory. You want to make money, not lose your nest egg in the process.

What next?

If you have thought about the big picture issues, have an idea of what your business could do and are serious about starting your own small business, you need to write a business plan. This is the first step and one that will crystalise how you can make the business a success or show you that perhaps it’s best to stay in paid employment. You should live and breathe your business plan. Then, when you’ve thought it through, turned it inside out and upside down, do something crazy. Actually do it!

Sue Stevens

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