Think hard before shucking your job search to “go it alone!”

Over at G.L. Hoffman’s blog, What Would Dad Say (WWDS), I was delighted to read Seth Godin’s guest post today. You know, he’s the marketing guru and author of Purple Cow and Tribes and other innovative books on transforming your business or steering substantive change.

In today’s WWDS blog, Seth encourages individuals to shuck their job-searching efforts and becoming entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, self-employed independents! I like it! — to a certain degree.

In 1997, armed with 6-months’ severance and insurance, married to a partner with a full time job (for further security) and a loose idea (use my writing degree, writing training, marketing experience and organizational talents), I winged it and began my own business. It was at times exciting, other times lonely, confusing, wide open and free.

Within just one year, a little luck and preparedness combined with opportunity, and I bought the business for which I had been consulting – Career Trend. Fast forward 11 years to 2009: I’ve transformed the locally owned (Kansas City-area) business with a brick and mortar presence, a big (expensive) Yellow Pages ad and no Internet presence (i.e., no website) to a global, virtually based operation replete with meaningful and ROI-focused partnerships involving colleagues, recruiters, career agencies, executive networking firms, coaches and more. As well, my client referral base is plump and feeds me well.

It all sounds good – right? But the sacrifice is enormous (for me, though, ultimately, worth it). Home life is extremely laser focused on my husband – that’s it – very little time for friends and family beyond email and phone (and even phone time is at the premium). Vacations are rare – unless I want to transport my computer and aircard everywhere! (I’m willing to do that.) Stress is manageable, but very much a presence in my every day. Benefits: 401k, dental, eyecare, health insurance – I buy my own. ANY time I want to invest in ANYthing for my business, it is directly out of my pocket – no Angel investors, no corporate board to go to to request financing – all me. This is a HUGE consideration for anyone wanting to go solo.

For me, the freedom of not having anyone (beyond my clients, of course!) be the ‘boss of me,’ is worth it! If that weren’t  a desire of mine – combined with a desire to express myself in writing, I wouldn’t advise it. If you are resilient, ambitious, tireless, creative, very organized and independent (can self-manage, self-motivate and get things done without a boss to report to), then this may be the gig for you.

However, if you like the benefits of a company paying your wages and benefits, and taking the ultimate heat when something goes wrong, then working for a company still may be a better fit.

I believe that the jobs ARE out there – job searchers just need to deepen their creative and diligent marketing efforts. Getting a job is a job. But talented folks are reengaging and being sought and retained as full-time employees.

I’m not sure I agree with Seth’s blog  that starting a business versus getting a job is a good rule of thumb for ‘everyone.’ Those, however, who have the burning itch to do so and can muster the courage to do so (and have the resources to sacrifice as well as risk management capability), then consider it!

I, for one, will never go back to work for another company, if I can help  it. But running an eBay business or selling coffee from a truck at the train station isn’t necessarily the answer I’d suggest for clients of mine seeking to reinvent themselves during career transition.

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, MRW

Owner, Chief Career Writer – Career Trend

My WWDS Guest Post Blog

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4 Comments on “Think hard before shucking your job search to “go it alone!””

  1. glhoffman Says:

    Well said Jacqui. I think it is interesting that few people who have gone down a similar path ever want to go back. Maybe it is as you say, we want to be the boss of me. Methinks it is something more. I feel there are zillions of folks out there who want to try and do it, they just need to know it is definitely possible. Frankly, Seth is right…more companies are going to judge each employee by what he contributes.
    Nicely said and thanks for the link.

  2. Clare Says:

    But if your job search is not coming up with anything, it’s not such a bad idea to try an idea of your own. To my mind, this beats the feelings of frustration and anger at not getting the job you feel you deserve.

    You could argue that it takes an entrepreneurial mind to work out the things you could do, to be motivated and focussed etc, but these are also skills and mindsets that many companies also expect from their employees. Developing this way of thinking – then demonstrating it by doing your own thing – can only be of long-term benefit if you then decide to move back into paid employment.

  3. careertrend Says:

    GL, you’re probably right that it is ‘something more’ that compels people to become and remain entrepreneurs. For me, that something more is a desire to make a difference in my own way … and admittedly, to directly help others (my clients) in a way that I couldn’t when working for someone else. And I agree about your affirmation of Seth’s comment that companies will judge each employee by what he contributes (even more-so now than ever before, with resources so tight).

  4. careertrend Says:

    Clare, you make a great point re: if your job search is coming up empty then it’s not a bad idea to try an idea (entrepreneurial venture) of your on. YES – it sure beats feelings of frustration/anger. I’m all for diffusing those negative feelings; and doing your own thing could certainly be an outlet while also bringing in some financial resources and plugging a gap, even if it’s not a long-term, permanent gig.

    Thanks for stopping in and adding value to my post!


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