If you are one of the many professionals still trapped between jobs by circumstances outside your control, or are about to dump the loser job you have now, you should be actively defining and starting your own business, in parallel with looking for that ideal job. Let me explain why this is a win-win deal, no matter what the outcome.
You have probably secretly always wanted to run your own show, but with an existing job, never took the time to consider a startup. Then there was always the risk of failure, which of course doesn't apply once your real job is gone. Also, for most of us, not having done it before, we have no idea where or how to start.
Here are my top recommendations on how and why initiating a startup while looking, or about to be looking for a job is the right thing to do:
- No gap in your resume. Instead of an embarrassing gap in your resume for your period out of work, you have an entry for your startup business, showing initiative, leadership, and breadth of experience.
- Fun learning experience. It's more fun tackling the challenges of a startup in between job search activities, than sitting around feeling sorry for yourself and waiting for status callbacks on interviews (which seem to have gone out of style).
- Explore finding a partner. Unless you are a true loner, you need someone like-minded but complementary in skills to help you with the startup plans. It's always good to have someone to test your ideas, keep your spirits up, and hone your business skills. Now you have a reason for talking to people who may become lifelong friends.
- Learn how to incorporate a business. First, pick a name for your company and do the paperwork on starting a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). Almost anyone can handle this without professional help, and the cost is less than $100 in many states. It shows everyone you are serious, and limits your liability on any mistakes.
- Practice developing a business plan. Pick a startup business that you can do for minimal cost, like a services business with the skills you have. With simple software available today, find a domain name and implement your own website. Use social networking and blogging to get your message out. You don't even need an investor.
- Get business cards made. Nothing says you are serious about a business like handing out professional business cards at local events and Chamber of Commerce meetings. Do them on your home computer for a few dollars. Offer to help a couple of customers free, just to get your act together and your presence known.
- Have startup efforts to highlight in job interviews. Work your startup efforts into every job interview and application. It will definitely show off your energy and vision, and will make you a more competitive candidate for any role.
- Give yourself a choice - job or your own business. Obviously, at some point you will need to decide whether your startup business is better than the job opportunities. That's good because it's always nice to have an alternative, rather than feeling that you just have to take the first dead-end job offered.
There are other startup related points I could make here, like joining an existing startup as a "volunteer" for a time, just to learn more about what is required. Also, in most geographies, there are organizations springing up, and university workshops, to mentor people out of work and contemplating a startup. Get some help from them if you need it.
Just remember that problems are really just opportunities in disguise. Don't miss out on what may be the best opportunity you will have in your lifetime for a new career. Start up now.