Self-Employment as an Alternative Career Option
By Sharon Graham.
Many people dream of owning their own business, being their own boss, and being in control of their destiny. Yet, very few who begin a business succeed.
You will need to do a lot of research and investigation before you can confidently begin your new venture. Beginning a business is a personal decision, and must be made according to your values, abilities, and confidence level.
Work through the following questions to determine whether it is worth it to put time, energy, money and other resources into actively pursuing your idea.
- What is the initial concept or business idea? What is the product or service you wish to offer to the public?
- Who do you believe will benefit from the product or service?
- What are the initial reasons you believe your business idea will work? What evidence is there to support the need for this product or service?
- What makes you believe the idea will generate sufficient money to support your needs? What will make the business supportable into the future?
- What makes the product or service special, different, or more valuable to the proposed target market?
- What is the history of the industry and the product or service since it first began?
- What are the significant milestones for the industry as a whole, and your product or service in particular?
- Looking at the history and significant milestones, what predictions can you make about the future trends, needs, and opportunities?
Only after answering these questions honestly, is it time to move into a more diligent investigation of the true need in the market. Keep in mind that just because you believe there is a need, it does not mean that there truly is a need. It takes hard data to confirm that. Also, remember that identifying a need does not necessarily mean that fulfilling the need is a good business idea. You must thoroughly investigate whether you can deliver your product or service in a manner that meets both your own needs and those of the target market. A detailed “needs analysis” should help clarify the size and viability of the need.
It is important that you conduct a thorough research plan before moving forward. All too many would-be entrepreneurs have moved ahead with a business idea without sufficient proof of the need or feasibility, only to find themselves in hot water a short time into their business start up – out of clients, out of cash, and out of confidence. Be thorough and don’t let your enthusiasm or emotions control your decision-making abilities.
Direct observation, interviews, information gathering meetings, questionnaires, surveys, focus groups, experimentation, and product sampling are all reliable ways to collect primary research into the feasibility of your offering. Industry statistics, white paper documentation, trade manuals, magazines, and books are all excellent sources of secondary research.
Trade magazines, newspaper articles, and business reviews all offer excellent information that provides insight into some of the business conditions companies are facing in our current economy. You may be able to create an opportunity by positioning your skills, talents, and experience with a need in an industry or company.
You are ready to create a business plan only after determining that:
- you possess the traits required to be successfully self-employed
- there is a viable need for your product in the market
- you have sufficient resources available to make it happen
Preparing a thoughtful business plan can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months (or longer). You can expect to work on planning your business for quite some time. This is not something that should be overlooked, minimized, or discounted. Additionally, you may benefit from the expertise of a qualified consultant who can build a solid business plan on your behalf.
Some of the details that go into a business plan include:
- Research, Research, and More Research!
- Primary (survey, focus groups, observation, test offerings, etc.)
- Secondary (web sites, books, white papers, lectures, workshops, etc.)
- Legal structure
- Location, hours, and access
- Legalities and insurance
- Qualifications, experience, and expectations
- Systems and leveraging resources
- Product description (features and benefits)
- Target market
- Promotional plan and calendar
- Finances and funding:
- Start up costs
- Projected expenses
- Projected sales
- Break even analysis
After you have created a solid, well-developed business plan, if you still believe running your own business is a good idea, you are in a much better position to take affirmative action to make their dream a reality.
Sharon Graham is CANADA’S CAREER STRATEGIST and author of the top-selling BEST CANADIAN RESUMES SERIES. Founder and executive director of CAREER PROFESSIONALS OF CANADA, Sharon is committed to setting the standard for excellence in the industry. A leading authority on resume, interview, employment and career transition, Sharon provides career practitioners with tools and resources to enable them to provide exemplary services to Canadians.