Unemployed = Self-employed
LET’S face facts – some people make better business owners than others. Have you heard of the term, ‘serial entrepreneurs’? It’s for those people who seem addicted to starting new businesses. I know a 23 year old man who has already started at least three (possibly more) different businesses. I find that incredible. For some people, one business is one too many.
But these days, entrepreneurship is a hot topic. Anyone who starts a business is given hero status – instantly classed as brave and innovative for taking a risk in these ‘difficult economic times’.
Does that mean everyone should start a business? I don’t think so. Business is an option. For some, it’s option A, and for other’s it’s option B.
If you are happy in your career, you should not make yourself feel like a coward for not dropping everything and attempting to become your boss’ new competitor.
Unless, of course, that boss that you are so loyal to fires you. Around then, option B starts to look pretty good, doesn’t it?
On that point, let me never hear anyone describe themselves as unemployed again. No, no, no... Why not say you are self-employed? Just because your contract has ended/never existed, it doesn’t mean you stopped having skills and talent to offer the world. You don’t necessarily have to do something wildly different or revolutionary – usually there are simple things you could do.
I’m sure you’ve heard it said, you have to spend money to make money. Not true. You don’t have to. You can start small, or even with nothing but the head on your shoulders (and the brain contained therein). For the first website consulting job I got in Kigali, I didn’t even use my own laptop or pay for internet – all of this was provided by the client! What they were interested in, was my skills and what the product that would result from them – not my finances.
You could do some consulting work while you are ‘in between jobs’. You don’t even need to look far – talk to the people you already know. If you have a professional background in, say tax or web design or sales, ask around, I bet you there is someone in your group who is in desperate need of your services.
But make sure you do not work for free!
This is a mistake that I’ve made before, and I don’t want you falling into the same trap. Working for free (if you are self-employed, and not a volunteer) can make you start diminishing the value of your work not just in your eyes – but even in the eyes of your clients. Even if it’s your best friend or your auntie’s neighbour or your brother’s schoolmate – if they want you to do valuable work, then they should value that work financially.
As a friend once told me – when she saw how guilty I felt about her paying for an item I was selling – we should be happy to support our friends’ and family’s businesses, instead of demanding free services from them. Even if you do decide to do the work for a low/discounted fee, always establish that there’s a fee involved.
You see, once you’ve worked for free, it can be difficult to start charging in the future. Also, you might become bitter or resentful if they complain about the work or ask you to make changes – you might start feeling like they don’t deserve your best – and you should always give your best.
So hopefully if you don’t have a full time job now, you will consider hiring yourself. Even if you don’t fall in love with the entrepreneurial lifestyle, and continue to look for a job, on the side, there’s nothing wrong with that. Trust me; your CV will look much more interesting to a potential new employer if you have, Current position: Consultant, as the first position listed in your history instead of the job you lost in 2011.
The author is CEO Shaking Sun Ltd, a multimedia business.
Contact email: akaliza.gara[at]shakingsun.com