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Sometimes the best way to reap the value you have developed during the course of your career is to start a new business. You might consider starting your own business if the industry you are coming from has been shrinking and laying off people. You should also consider it if you have advanced well beyond your academic credentials, and changing jobs would require you to take an enormous step down in both responsibility and pay.

My friend Carmen, who managed the Advertising Services Department for a regional newspaper, found when she was laid off that her actual skills and accomplishments were far greater than her academic credentials. Not only is she an excellent graphic designer, she has years of project management skill, an outstanding portfolio of advertising projects , and 22 years of experience. But without a college degree, she simply could not land a comparable position as a manager of graphic design services.

As Carmen was preparing for job interviews, she realized when she totaled up her strengths, her interests, and her assets, that she was a virtual one-person advertising agency. Selling the brand “Carmen Carey Advertising” to potential employers was hardly any different than selling the brand “Carmen Carey” to prospective clients. The better Carmen understood how she contributed value to a potential employer, the easier it was for her to understand how she could contribute the same value as an advertising agency.

She took on one client and then a second, while simultaneously continuing to look for a job. Hands-on experience convinced her she would make a lot more money per hour working as a vendor than as an employee. Plus, owning her own company gave her a lot of control over her time schedule, which, as a single mother, is invaluable to her. Eventually she concluded her best future was in building and operating her own ad agency.

Starting your own business can be great fun and can produce steady income. If you are in need of work, don’t spend your time moping and feeling sorry for yourself. Yes, launch an effective job search, but also take advantage of what you have in your hands. It may be a need you have been asked to meet on a part-time or volunteer basis. Or it may be a skill or hobby you’ve developed over the years that could blossom into a business. It may simply be an idea — that’s how Facebook got started. As long as you have the free time, why not take a risk? What have you got to lose? And the upside could really surprise you.


Excerpt from Sweet Spot: Finding Your Career at Any Age, Adapted from page 75-76, Co-authored by Bruce Dreisbach and Katybeth Lee

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