Sunday, April 12, 2009


by Angela deFreitas
How many times have you considered giving up that awful, pressuring job and working for yourself? Once? Twice? Every month-end when the pay cheque comes? Yes, you know you would love to.
Being your own boss is the ultimate goal of not just you but many who are tired of the routine of a regular 9-5 and who just need that change from being bossed to being the boss.
But before you make such a drastic life-changing decision, understand that studies show that entrepreneurs are born and not made. So, if you find that you have personality traits such as toughness, resilience, tenacity, courage, innovativeness, dynamism, resourcefulness, passion and persistence, then you have a good chance of making a go of it. All of these are very important personal ingredients which will help you to succeed or fail in the business you choose.
Going it alone can take many forms including simply “doing a business”, becoming an entrepreneur (and there is a difference), free lancing, consulting, free agenting and many more. All, however, become very attractive possibilities, whether or not personality traits point in the right direction, when someone is unexpectedly “separated from their job’” or when no job offer is forthcoming.
Whichever you opt for and for whatever reason you may find yourself in the SOHO category. That is small office/home office.
The SOHO is a growing phenomenon, both global and local, as people increasingly move towards small, home-based operations due to the need for people running small businesses to locate themselves somewhere where overheads are not exhorbitant.
The SOHO runs the gamut from professionals such as lawyers and doctors serving their surrounding community, skilled workers such as plumbers, masons, cabinetmakers, hairdressers and fashion designers running their own small concerns and even consultants working on outsourced projects and contracts from large corporations.
However, before you even think as far as your SOHO, if you are considering this leap of faith, map out a plan. A plan will be an essential tool in the process. It will help you to clearly outline your thoughts in relation to the concept, nature, structure, direction, size etc. of your business and also the equipment which you will need.
In a notebook and outline everything which is in our head. This may add up to 3, 4, 5 or even more different business ideas. Having done that, look at each one as a great possibility and outline them one at a time in your book. You will reach a point of great excitement when it becomes clear that a particular plan is working out or, you may put away the pencil, greatly disappointed, when you reach a point of great clarity and know for sure that there’s a snag with this idea. If that happens, don’t destroy the notes but just turn over a new page.
When you decide on which idea to pursue, put away your note book carefully where you will be able to find it in the future. Don’t set up yourself for failure but you may need to turn back to those ideas if the one you choose fails. You may also want to add new ideas as they present themselves.
These notes will also eventually be the basis of a more formal and structured business plan which you may need in the near or distant future if you require a loan from a bank, credit union or another financial institution and if you wish to apply for funding or grants of any sort. It will also be a road map to keep you on course to your goal so view it as a basic and essential requirement.
Some advice:
Don’t go cold turkey – as much as possible develop the idea and get things going while still in a job.
Don’t worry about location – a SOHO generally has a skeleton staff of probably less than 3 or 4 employees. A lot of people will tell you that their business actually began in their living room, bedroom, around the kitchen table or that their office was literally in their car for quite a while. You may also consider creating a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) which does not require permanent staff reporting to an office on a daily basis or “hot-desking” where one desk is shared by many, as and when each needs it.
Start buying the equipment you will need – i.e. - excellent – read cutting-edge – communication technology fax, email – computer, internet access, photocopier, fax machine,colour printer, scanner – business software to help you to simplify billing, accounting and record-keeping tasks.
This will ensure that you are connected to your community at all times, without delay. In this way you will receive all messages, product orders, requests for information etc. even when you are not there, can send information in any form required.
So if you think it’s the way to go, get a plan and save the pennies. It’s an investment which will not be wasted. Even if you don’t go SOHO you will have a home which is able to match up to the 21st century environment.
Angela deFreitas is General Manager of CHOICES Career Advice
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