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Delay in Getting a Job? Do Your Own Thing

05 Jan

“Downsizing, rightsizing, adjustments in staff complement…” Aren’t I tired of hearing terms like those; all a pretty way to say job cuts. The result?: I don’t know anyone who any longer feels secure in their job.

In times past, people would feel some measure of surety that, as long as they performed at the company and was an all-round good employee they would have their job for the long-term. But even good employees often find themselves unceremoniously placed back into the job market as a result of the seemingly unending job cuts. Are you one such person? Then welcome to the global club of the axed (which, by the way, is a large one). And unfortunately, many businesses have also “packed up shop” or closed down sections of their enterprise. So with fewer positions in existence, many job seekers are understandingly feeling utterly frustrated. But life must go on despite a job loss, right? Bills must be paid, groceries must be purchased, and kids must go to school. Considering this, what does one do after they’ve finished moping and bemoaning their state of seemingly perpetual joblessness? Well, ever thought about a small business of your own? I hear the experts all the time saying firstly that job creation is essential to allow the Jamaican economy to not just survive but thrive. I also hear them saying that if you can’t find a job, do your own thing. Plenty of people both here and abroad are setting up their own business with good success. Sure it’s not something to just slap together on a whim but if properly approached could yield some really good results for you.

Before actually doing any work to set up the business however, spend time framing your dream. Let your subconscious light your way. You’ll get a better idea of what you want to do and where your skills lie by clearing your mind to let answers flow. That done, definitively identify what you want to do. If you choose something you love, that you’d do even if you weren’t paid, success is in your pocket. Go with your passion and find the best way to match your greatest passion with making a living.

Now seek a mentor, a trusted advisor. All successful business people tell of their epiphany born of a seasoned pro’s stories. Open your mind and ears so you can identify someone to help you over rough spots. Ask tons of questions at every step. In all this remember to learn your market and your competition. Talk up your idea and see how people react. Do market research. Google for similar businesses locally, even those out of your area. Finding new customers is the major challenge for small business owners. Small businesses typically find themselves strapped for time but in order to create a continual stream of new business, they must work on marketing their business every day.

Common marketing techniques for small business include networking, word of mouth, customer referrals, yellow pages directories, television, radio, roadside billboards, print, email marketing, and internet. Electronic media like TV can be quite expensive and is normally intended to create awareness of a product or service. Many small business owners find internet marketing more affordable. Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing are two popular options of getting small business products or services in front of motivated web searchers. Successful online small business marketers are also adept at utilising the most relevant keywords in their site content. Advertising on niche sites can also be effective, but with the long tail of the internet it can be time intensive to advertise on enough sites to garner an effective reach.

Creating a business web site has become increasingly affordable with many do-it-yourself programs now available for beginners. A web site can provide significant marketing exposure for small businesses when marketed through the Internet and other channels. Some popular services are WordPressJoomla and Squarespace.

Social media has proven to be very useful in gaining additional exposure for many small businesses. Many small business owners use Facebook and Twitter as a way to reach out to their loyal customers to give them news about specials of the day or special coupons and generate repeat business. The relational nature of social media, along with its immediacy and 24-hour presence lend intimacy to the relationship small businesses can have with their customers, while making it more efficient for them to communicate with greater numbers. Facebook ads are also a very cost-effective way for small businesses to reach a targeted audience with a very specific message.

In addition to the social networking sites, blogs have become a highly effective way for small businesses to position themselves as experts on issues that are important to their customers. This can be done with a proprietary blog and/or by using a backlink strategy wherein the marketer comments on other blogs and leaves a link to the small business’ own web site.

In all your strategising you know that of course you have to know the law with respect to your business. Find out what you’re the government requires of small business owners. An ounce of preventative study can avoid pounds of legal headaches later. Will you need a permit? Can you operate from home? Licenses? Taxes?

Then write a business plan. True, some lucky people impulsively put their eggs (and money and effort) into one half-envisioned idea. The Jamaica Business Development Centre and the Small Businesses Association of Jamaica are useful resources for entrepreneurs locally. The most successful businesses are modeled on a well-conceived written plan.

Ok. You’re now on you way with a plan of action, but what about the money? Crucial right? So plan your budget.  A handyman needs to have cash in reserve for tools, a vehicle, and other overhead items; a seamstress needs sewing and other machines, cutting implements, needles, and so on; while a restaurant requires lots of cash. Be real about what you’ll need. And with a budget in hand plan your finances. Before you spend any money, make sure you know where you’ll get the cash for your first six months of operations. More would be better. And since “no man is an island” ask for help. Enlist friends, family, co-workers and neighbours. Give them a sample of what you do. Ask them to consider using your product or services. Ask them to spread the word. Networking is a success essential!

Congratulations; you’re up and running! To help stay that way, keep impeccable records. Use your home computer to store all data safely. Back it up. Keep notes about what works and what doesn’t. Record contact info for all customers and prospects and keep in touch with them. Make a strong commitment to your new venture as you would to one whom you dearly love and cherish. Put in the time and energy to make the business work; and be creative and keep an open mind!  Remember too that the internet is a pretty good resource to use to find copious amounts of information about setting up and running a small business. Use it. And you know what, maybe you’ll soon find you business growing to the point where it becomes a strong contender in your area of endeavour. Who knows, you might just create the next Grace Company Ltd.

 
 

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