Can there really be a silver lining to being laid off or caught in a reduction in force?

While many are facing tough realities in the wake of the economic downturn, there are signs that the entrepreneurial spirit that fuels business innovation is alive and well. Fact of the matter is that the explosive growth in start-up businesses isn’t surprising. While large corporations are reducing their workforce, they haven’t reduced their need for skilled work. Often, this work is being done by the same former-employees who are now consultants.

First off, how do you decide if you should look for another job or start your own business instead?

While each person’s situation is different, there are a few key questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do I have marketable skills?
  2. Would I prefer to fail or succeed based on my own efforts?
  3. Am I willing to shoulder some risk for a bigger payoff and more freedom?
  4. Do I have a passion for my field or industry?

If you answered yes, to three out of the four questions above, entrepreneurship may just be an option for you to consider.

But what are the pros and cons of working for yourself?

In speaking with many of our clients who are themselves entrepreneurs, there are a few common reasons why they love working for themselves. They love being at the helm and having success based on their own efforts. They are free to do the work they want to do and choose which clients they work for. Surprisingly, lower down on the scale is the increase in personal control of their office and schedules.

However, there are some drawbacks to working for yourself if you aren’t careful. While you may be an expert in your field, for many there is a learning curve associated with gaining all of the skills to successfully run a business. As a start-up business owner, you are not only responsible for doing work for your clients, but you will need to handle the finance, HR, marketing, and all of the other components necessary to grow a business. In addition to needing additional skills, many people starting off find that they work longer hours than they did in their previous job because they not only do the work carried out by the business but all of the other administrative tasks.

How do you avoid the pitfalls?

  • Check in your area and you will most likely find there are a number of organizations to help you both with education on how to run your business, and some will even help you find funding. Check out the Small Business Administration, government agencies, and local non-profit groups.
  • Network as much as possible. One of our clients who went from bootstrap startup to one of the most profitable companies in Silicon Valley found that often times he could tap his network to solve problems and take work off of his hands. As of today, much of his admin work is handled by the office network in our center – his corporate council is the attorney who works down the hall … same with his accountant.
  • Tap services out there to help. There are many hosted office space and virtual office businesses out there like ours that can provide you with both the image to compete and the resources and expert support that allow you to focus on growing your business instead of being bogged down with administrative tasks. Instead of managing your office space – outsource it!