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2853610625_ca48858fab_mYou’ve been having a tough time finding a job, and the longer it takes, the more obstacles you face. Your last job’s end date has become more distant, and you aren’t seeing any reason to be optimistic about landing something permanent anytime soon. Should you start a business?

If this describes you, it could be time to shift gears and stop looking for a job in favor of starting your own consulting firm or business. Is the writing on the wall, but you aren’t seeing it? Consider the following signs that you should re-focus your energies and start thinking about working for yourself.

Why to start a business?

1. Hiring independents is on the rise. Independent workers (people working 15 or more hours per week as freelancers, contractors, or business owners) are part of a fast-growing sector of our workforce. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) frequently shares research showcasing these trends. For example, Author and Workplace Researcher Tammy Erickson’s HBR post highlights data from the temporary placement service provider Adecco, illustrating that contingent (temporary) workers will grow at three to four times the rate of the traditional workforce in the future. Whitney L. Johnson, author of Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream, had a recent post on HBR noting there are currently around 17 million independent workers, which is expected to rise to 23 million by 2017. When you start a business, you join this group.

On her blog, Workplace author and Columnist Alexandra Levit recently shared data from technology firm Mavenlink that shows the number of self-employed, independent service firms, solopreneurs, and temporary workers grew by an estimated 4.3 million workers since 1995. The contingent workforce is expected to grow to 40 percent, or 64.9 million, by 2020.

While it’s not always a good idea to follow the crowd when it comes to your career, these data suggest it may be time to think about how to market yourself as a business of one and start a business.

2. A lack of jobs or hiring freezes in your field. It’s tough to land a job in the midst of hiring freezes. If your industry is hard hit by the economy or in a state of flux, it’s likely hiring freezes will affect your ability to land a new job—or even a promotion.

3. Projects are going to contractors. Most trends don’t manifest overnight, but sometimes employees don’t notice them until it’s too late to respond. Look around: Is your organization contracting with freelancers to get things done?

4. You need a new challenge. Not all signs suggesting it’s time to start a business come from your industry. Take a good, hard look at your own goals, skills, and what you want to accomplish in your career.

5. Controlling your work environment is important to you. The recent news from Yahoo! demanding that employees who work from home report to the office highlights how tides can turn. The only way to be sure you maintain control over your work environment is to work for yourself.

6. Working for yourself is the new job security. With millions of workers serving as employees at will, subject to layoffs and reductions in force at the drop of a hat, traditional, or “corporate” jobs no longer offer the type of income security that people once though.

Don’t be the last one to the entrepreneur party. Whether starting a business is something you’ve always wanted to do, or you’re thinking of going that route because you’re having trouble finding work, you should start planning now to prepare yourself to succeed in the new economy.

Read the whole post at U.S. News & World Report.

photo by karindalziel


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  • Razwana

    Miriam – freelancing is definitely on the rise, but it is not for everyone. It also depends on the needs of the industry itself.

    Even if someone understands the needs of their market (in this case, hiring managers who would employ freelancers) and has the perfect value proposition, the individual may not be comfortable with the risk/uncertainty of running their own business.

    What are your thoughts?

    – Razwana

  • Keppie_Careers

    Razwana – It’s true, freelancing is not a first choice for everyone, and I’ve even written (in the distant past) that not everyone is suited to be a business owner. However, the fact is, the skills business owners need are also many of the skills hiring managers want. And, as far as risk/uncertainty, I’m sure many laid-off workers would agree that working for someone else comes with plenty of risk and uncertainty!