by Nancy J. Miller, MS, CCM
In a previously thriving economy, most people expected financial and job security, although they often worked for years in jobs they didn’t enjoy. Now that jobs are getting harder to find, it takes more research and planning to find a fit for your strengths, passions, and values. Promotions, benefits, and bonuses are no longer the norm. Finding value in your work, staying healthy, and contributing to something greater than yourself, can bring more satisfaction than working at a job that “appears” to provide security.
An entrepreneurial mindset will give you the adaptability and resilience to thrive in a changing workplace. As an entrepreneur, you need to:
- know why you are working,
- research Models of Work, and
- understand your choices.
Some of the reasons for working are:
- To grow a money-making enterprise
- To do what you love
- To be your own boss
- To have regular income
- To make a difference in the world
With the downturn in the economy, job-seekers are bombarded with “business opportunities,” job-search Websites, and training programs. It is more important than ever to discriminate between real opportunities for success and clever marketing schemes. Any of the Models of Work described in this article can bring income and satisfaction to the person who is motivated and equipped for the demands of that business model. From employee entrepreneur to small-business owner, each model of work requires a different degree of capital, networking, business expertise, determination, and/or skills.
In your lifetime you will probably use more than one business model, and maybe even two or three at a time. Researching your options, understanding hidden expenses and demands, and knowing why you are working will help you make the best decision. To understand your choices you need to research the Models of Work that you are interested in. For example:
1. Employee Entrepreneur
Anyone who manages his or her own career while working for someone else is an employee entrepreneur. As an employee entrepreneur, you will need to build your portfolio of strengths, skills and experience; be ready for transitions; have an exit strategy; and leave the risk to the employer. You will have the ability to focus on the work you are interested in doing without being responsible for managing the business enterprise.
2. Solo Entrepreneur
A solo entrepreneur (also known as a “solopreneur”) is a business owner with no employees. Freedom to be creative and have full responsibility for your business comes with being your own boss. As the owner and operator of your business, you will need to develop strong business skills and take on diverse roles if you want to make money and stay in business through economic fluctuations.
A partnership may be between businesses or individuals. Bringing in a partner(s) to invest in the business and/or complement your skills offers advantages, but a partnership has the highest financial risk of any of these models. Tapping into the resources of friends or family members who believe in you and your business idea is often the most expeditious way to bring capital into your business. But working with friends and family can also create relationship problems. To bring in partners or investors, you need a concise business plan, clear lines of communication, and an exit strategy. Putting your business plan in writing will clarify your vision for yourself and your partner(s).
4. Franchise Owner/Investor
Franchising is a way to own a business “out of the box.” You follow a prescribed business plan and formula for success. Considering franchise ownership entails so many factors, such as market saturation, location, name, type of business, and appropriateness for your business expertise. The Internet is full of business opportunities that are misleading and sometimes fraudulent. Do your research, talk to franchise owners, and discuss franchise opportunities with a consultant if needed.
5. Small-Business Owner (Incorporated)
Incorporating your small business offers you protection against your personal assets. Owning a small business with a staff for administration, production, distribution and marketing can give you freedom to grow your business, attain financial success, and time for family and vacations. But of these models, a small business requires the most planning, leadership, supervision, and administration. A small business owner who is an entrepreneur at heart is willing to take measured risks, and has capital and time to grow the business will have unlimited possibilities for success.
Final Thoughts on Entrepreneurship
The current work environment offers challenges and opportunities we never thought possible. In thinking about which Model of Work you will choose, it is more important than ever before to know your strengths, build support systems, have a plan, and research your options. Think beyond what seems possible, but beware of business opportunities that make promises that seem too good to be true. Understand your choices before you make a decision. The key to success in a changing business climate is to develop the skills, attitude, and mindset to find the many opportunities that are available in the new evolving workplace.
[Editor’s Note: See also this section of Quintessential Careers: Entrepreneur & Business Start-Up Tools and Resources.]
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
This article is part of Job Action Day 2010.
Nancy J. Miller, M.S., is a Personal/Career Coach and author of the book, Fire Up Your Profile for Lifework Success. Through coaching, classes, and workshops Nancy inspires entrepreneurs, career changers, and writers to discover innovative ways to find meaningful work in harmony with their values, lifestyle, and abilities. Visit Nancy’s Website, and connect with her on Linkedin. She can be reached at clwd(at)tealpublishing.com.