How to be your own boss
Losing your job is the worst. Even if you didn’t like your job or the company, and even if you understand why layoffs may be necessary, being shown the door is upsetting. But there is a way to ensure that you never get laid off again – start your own business.
Even if you think you don’t have the requisite knowledge or experience, you have likely developed skills that other people or companies will pay for – it’s just a matter of setting yourself up and getting the word out.
Determine what kind of business you want to start
In broad terms, there are two ways to go about starting your own business; you can continue your current career, just working for yourself, or you can go off in a completely different direction. If you don’t know which one to choose, give some thought to what each might look like.
If you want to continue to do what you’ve been doing, understand that even though companies may be laying off full time employees, the work still has to get done. How do they make sure that happens? They bring in contractors or consultants to do just the work that’s needed, without paying benefits and other overhead costs. Big tech layoffs are a perfect example of this – that software still needs to be developed, so tech titans will bring in contractors to do the work of those they laid off.
If you want to do something completely different, you may already have a business in mind, even if it’s not quite a business yet. The Hiscox Side Hustle to Small Business podcast features guests who started a business on the side and then turned it into a full-time job.
Start with a side hustle
Often, a business starts as side hustle and grows into a full-time business. If you do something on the side, consider whether you could make that your primary job. It may not even be something you’re getting paid for right now. A lot of people find they are the ‘go-to’ for certain things among their friends. Are you the one everyone asks to review their resume before they send it out? Resume and cover letter help is big business, which sometimes grows into career coaching.
Brie Sodano had a fun, fulfilling job as the director of a Boys and Girls Club. As interesting and important as her job was, it didn’t pay a whole lot. So she taught herself how to trade stock options to generate some extra cash. When doing both of these things got to be too much, Brie decided to become a financial advisor. She found that a lot of her clients needed help with the basics: budgeting, reducing debt, etc. So she started Sheep to Shark to teach the strategy of money, how to create good money habits, and how to manage the emotions around money. “I don’t sell investments,” Brie says. “It’s just really helping people get out of their own way in their relationship with money.”
Find your passion
Your business doesn’t have to be in the same industry you’ve been working in. Sometimes a company is born from a passion that has nothing to do with a ‘day job.’ Rob Friedman of Pitching Ninja started his career as an attorney in a big law firm, but his passion has always been baseball – specifically pitching. He started analyzing video of pitchers and posting it on social media. Today, he has 400,000 Twitter
followers, 100,000 Instagram followers, and his own merch store. He is also starting a new website called FlatGround to help aspiring pitchers get noticed.
Friedman started Pitching Ninja because of his love of the game – and of technology. “I’m a fan as well as a coach, as well as a technology guy. So, there’s technology, physics, all that stuff involved, which is fun to unravel.”
Take the leap Angle Hendrix of NC Solution Group was in the insurance business, and started a side hustle as a Notary Public, primarily doing real estate closings. She began to partner with real estate attorneys to increase the number of closings she could do in a day, building the business to the point where she had to make a choice to make the notary business her full time job. “As an entrepreneur, you just never know. That season may not be there. So, if I’m going to take the leap, I have to do it now while things are hot. Because I may not get this opportunity again.”
Starting from scratch
Going off in a completely new direction from your current career may require a little more upfront work. You’ll need to research the industry you’re considering entering, and you’ll need to make sure that your product or service solves a problem or fulfills a need. The internet is your friend here – there’s a wealth of information out there that can lead you in the right direction.
A business plan can help you determine if your idea is viable, and what steps you need to take to make your dream a reality. Learn how to craft a killer business plan here.
Be prepared to work hard
No matter how passionate or how talented you are, and regardless of whether you’re starting from scratch or capitalizing on a side hustle, starting and running your own business is hard work. As the founder, you have to do everything yourself until you’ve grown the business to the point where you can hire employees.
Todd Ward founded Todd Ward LLC to provide assistance to property owners and tenants with building projects, including development, new construction and remodeling. Todd says, “You know, as a sole proprietor consultant, you have to hunt it, kill it, clean it, et it, and then start the process all over again. It’s very time-consuming to build up that pipeline of business.”
The trade-off is that, once you’re established, you can often work when and where you want, taking those projects that interest you and leaving the rest. “I like that I don't have to keep a certain volume of work. And if I look at a project and I want to do some pro bono work for a non-profit, I can do that, or I can vary my fee structure for a particular project,” says Ward.
Looking for inspiration on turning your side hustle into a small business, or starting your business from scratch? Tune in to the Hiscox Side Hustle to Small Business podcast and hear how others have done it successfully. And if you have – or know of – a business that should be featured on the podcast, let us know here.