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Making Lemonade: Starting a Business After Ending A Career

A big upset like job loss can provide a shift of perspective-- an opportunity to take stock. What is really important? What do you want to pursue at this point in your life? Is being your own boss the way to go?

I spoke with several silverbacks to share their wisdom gleaned from these life changes with a new member of the pack.

entrepreneur, downsized, career change

What do you do when the money tree starts sprouting lemons?

It’s increasingly common these days to find middle-aged, mid-level managers suddenly faced with huge shifts of circumstance. Down-sizing, bubble-bursting, plant-closing, and consolidating are just some of the forces creating a class of sudden solo-preneurs.

At 50-something you face particularly difficult job-hunting challenges. Your salary range is high. Your network is decent after so many years, but jobs at your level are few. You’ve been there, done that, and thought you were finished with all that new trick-learning.

A big upset like job loss can provide a shift of perspective-- an opportunity to take stock. What is really important? What do you want to pursue at this point in your life? Is being your own boss the way to go?

I spoke with several silverbacks to share their wisdom gleaned from these life changes with a new member of the pack.

Dean turned 50 in January of 2005. In May he was fired from his position as marketing director of a high-tech firm. He’s angry at the ease with which an employer could let him go.

“Control is a big issue for me. Do I really want to have someone tell what, where, and how? It seems like I work a lot but don’t reap the benefits. If I were on my own I’d have all the benefits and all the risks.”

Dean is deciding whether to find another job with the security of a regular paycheck and benefits, or start his own business. He finds information on the internet helpful but wishes there was a Big Brother-like program pairing people and businesses to help him sort through the options.

Carl was 51 when the ordinance plant where he was safety manager closed its doors.

“I had a lot of friends in the business. I could have easily picked up another job but I would have had to relocate halfway across the country. I didn’t want to do that.”

Bob was an engineer whose position was eliminated after 23 years with the firm. This sent him into a deep depression that lasted for months.

“I couldn’t even drive.”

With the help of his psychiatrist, Bob recognized what was most important in his life—his wife, his son, and his lifelong hobby, bird-watching.

“My doctor told me to go bird-watching every day. While out there on the wetlands I had a vision. I couldn’t go back to the corporate life.”

It takes a lot of stamina and belief in yourself to move ahead with plans for a business. Carl spoke of his state of mind at the time:

“I wasn’t frightened. I’m a survivor. I screwed up when I was younger— went bankrupt, lost a lot of material things. One good thing about failing is that it gets you over that fear of failure. You learn from your mistakes.”

Both men did a lot of research, internal and external. Bob determined that he loved birds, kids, nature, education, photography, and the environment. Anything he pursued needed to involve those. Once he was clear on the essentials the how-to landed in Bob’s lap.

“I saw an ad in a magazine to call for franchise information. My mind immediately took off with the possibilities. I began looking at retail spaces thinking ‘I wonder how that location would work?’ I saw the ad on a Saturday. That Tuesday I called the company. On Thursday I had the package and on the following Tuesday they had it back.”

Carl was taking his time, looking at options. His values included a love of people and a desire to create a positive environment.
His plans started with casual conversation.

“My buddies owned this building. There had been a restaurant there years ago but it had been mismanaged. And somehow the idea of starting another one came up. At first we were clowning around, yucking it up over a few beers, but then we started getting more serious.

Bob made use of the infant, but still helpful internet of 1995. Carl used lower tech methods to estimate his market.

I spent 15 days from 4:00 am to 11:00 am counting cars at that intersection. I figured if we could get a big enough percentage of them to stop we’d be in business.

Bob used a book called, The Insider’s Guide to Franchising [Webster, B. 1986 Amacom, New York] to help him review his offer. Carl was mentored by a successful friend in the restaurant business who helped him think things through. They developed their business plans and opened their doors.

The first year was tough for both businesses. Miscalculations and errors sent both owners reeling.

At first Carl knew nothing about preparing and serving food.

“The restaurant was overstaffed and overpaid. I felt held hostage by the people who worked for me. Things were pretty shaky there for awhile. Some days I wondered if we could open the doors.”

Bob got overwhelmed with paperwork and screwed up his accounting records.

“Plus I went crazy at Vendormart. I bought four times as much inventory as I should have. Nowadays the franchise pairs successful stores and newbies so that doesn’t happen, but those safeguards weren’t in place back then.”

In September Bob’s store will celebrate its tenth anniversary. It has been recognized three times among the Top 30 Most-Improved stores. In February and June of this year his store was number 2 out of 320 in overall sales.

Carl was advised that he’d know if the restaurant would make it within four years. It was clear after three that they’d be fine. Today after seven years they’re looking to expand.

“We’re not getting rich but we’re self-supporting, and the relationships are priceless.”

What advice do they have in hindsight for Dean and others like him?

Bob says, “Find what you love and create your opportunity. Be willing to change—be retooled. Don’t get stuck in a rut. And you gotta have another source of income when you’re starting.”

Carl adds, “We grossly underestimated the working capital we’d need. And if I had it to do over I’d own the building. There are improvements I’d like to make but I’m restricted by the landlord.”

So back to Dean, who’s looking at buying an existing restaurant business, if he doesn’t decide to return to marketing. Where do you want to be in a year? What will you say when I check back with you?

“I made the right choice. I’m doing exactly what I should and I’m excited about it.

 

Entrepreneurship: The Super Career Of The 21st Century

Your job no longer comes with a guarantee.

Yes, that is right, you might have been taught that if you work hard, study for a professional occupation, and score high grades, your future is set. Nothing can harm you. You get a job with your beautiful education and a good salary, and after 40 – 50 years of working, you retire happy and do anything you want.

Let us look at the facts: Millions of people are laid off work yearly. Some industries, like the record industry, wer...

Leverage, networking, network marketing, business, finance, create wealth, wealth, financial freedom

Your job no longer comes with a guarantee.

Yes, that is right, you might have been taught that if you work hard, study for a professional occupation, and score high grades, your future is set. Nothing can harm you. You get a job with your beautiful education and a good salary, and after 40 – 50 years of working, you retire happy and do anything you want.

Let us look at the facts: Millions of people are laid off work yearly. Some industries, like the record industry, were completely obsolete overnight. Thousands of skilled senior executives and middle managers are losing their jobs. Some students even find themselves unemployed when they finish their courses.

Income and retirement isn’t looking too good either. Nowadays both husband and wife have to work to maintain a descent lifestyle. Statistics show that 95% of all people at age 65 are either dead, or dead broke, and that it is only 6% of the population that is financially independent … and only 1% of those can be considered wealthy.

In the 90’s people turned to small business as an opportunity to create the best economic return available. Most people who venture into their own business are the so-called “Baby Boomers” - people between the ages of 30 and 50. These Boomers represent a third of the population and they are leading the way to make entrepreneurship the Super Career of the 21st century.

Buying a franchise was also seen as a viable option. A franchise is a safe business structure as it has proven systems in place for generating and keeping business.

Women who are disillusioned with climbing the corporate ladder started a new trend in creating home businesses which they can work around their already busy schedules as mothers.

For these entrepreneurs who are looking to start a small business from home, Network Marketing offers many attractive characteristics, including low capital risk and the ease of operation. Unlike traditional small businesses, Network Marketing requires no expensive legal, financial or accounting services, low maintenance or overheads, no employees, advanced education or start up money.

In most cases the only requirements for success in Network Marketing are: A strong desire, integrity, attitude and action.

 

Ladies And Gentlemen, Start Your Careers! Automotive Technicians Wanted

It can be a challenge to land a prime spot on a race car pit crew. Yet vehicle dealerships across the country are scrambling to find qualified automotive technicians for their own "pit crews"--even with salaries of $30,000 to $70,000 or more, depending on the market and the technician's level of training.

Ladies And Gentlemen, Start Your Careers! Automotive Technicians Wanted

It can be a challenge to land a prime spot on a race car pit crew. Yet vehicle dealerships across the country are scrambling to find qualified automotive technicians for their own "pit crews"-even with salaries of $30,000 to $70,000 or more, depending on the market and the technician's level of training.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the auto industry will need 35,000 new technicians every year through 2010.

Lucrative But Overlooked Careers

With that in mind, an unusual contest is getting into gear with the purpose of increasing awareness about this lucrative and rewarding yet often-overlooked career, and support training opportunities for future technicians. It's called the No. 29 Goodwrench Expertise Challenge. And it is a challenge. "Historically, being an automotive technician has been depicted as a dirty, dead-end kind of job," said Peter Lord, executive director, GM Service Operations. "That old stereotype could not be further from the truth. Today's cars and trucks are very sophisticated-the computer technology in them alone, for example, is nearly 1,000 times more powerful than what took the Apollo mission to the moon."

"Dealerships need trained, qualified technicians because they know that satisfaction with vehicle service and repair work is closely tied to how customers view their vehicles and the dealership."

The Challenge benefits automotive technician training like this: If driver Kevin Harvick's No. 29 car wins two out of 12 selected NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races beginning May 28 with the Coca-Cola 600, GM Goodwrench will set up a $200,000 scholarship fund to encourage Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) high school students to continue their automotive technical education by attending GM Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP) colleges. AYES is a nonprofit business and education partnership that creates automotive technology career opportunities for promising young men and women at automotive dealerships. It was founded in 1995 by former GM Chairman Jack Smith as a way to address the growing need for technicians.

Spreading The Word

"There are thousands of NASCAR fans-and others-who are ideal candidates for a career as an automotive technician," said Larry Cummings, CEO of AYES. "The Expertise Challenge is a fun and engaging way to help spread the word about these great career opportunities."

Students enrolled in GM ASEP two-year programs earn while they learn, rotating their time between classes and interning at GM dealerships and other GM service centers. There are 66 GM ASEP participating schools in 38 U.S. states, 15 in Canada and one in the People's Republic of China. Successful students graduate with an associate's degree, and either are ready for or have passed their National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification test. More than 2,000 students are currently enrolled in the program, and there are more than 14,000 graduates.

If Harvick and the team meet the Expertise Challenge by winning two of the 12 select races, GM Goodwrench will award 29 Grand Prizes, which consist of an all-new 2007 Chevy Avalanche, a $1,000 GM vehicle maintenance certificate and a trunk full of Reese's products.

Program Rules Available

If only one race is won during the promotion, two lucky winners will be awarded an all-new 2007 Chevy Avalanche, a $1,000 GM vehicle maintenance certificate, and a trunk full of Reese's products. They will also donate $25,000 to the GM Goodwrench Scholarship Fund. If no races are won during the promotion, the promotion will still give away an all-new 2007 Chevy Avalanche, a $1,000 GM vehicle maintenance certificate, and a trunk full of Reese's products to one lucky winner, and provide a $25,000 donation to the GM Goodwrench Scholarship fund.




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