• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Job security? Start a business!

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Our very own Tracy recently said, in a Facebook status, “Just realised I am making more freelancing part time than I did at my last full time job. Kind of neat.”

I loved that status, because my own experience has been similar. Since starting my own business, I’ve been making more, and with far more flexibility and control.

Another colleague/friend who took the plunge a couple of years ago, Kim, shares our experience. Her business is thriving, her expenses are kept to a minimum because she works from home, and she’s able to spend more time with her daughter.

Of course, working from home is not for everyone. If you’re a very social person who needs daily adult interaction, it will be tough on you. But to those who can manage the isolation, starting your own business and working from a home office offers plenty of advantages, including saving on commute and on work clothes, a low overhead (we don’t rent an office, don’t have employees to worry about) and – of course – plenty of flexibility.

Even if your dream business does require an office, employees and maybe even a manufacturing line, starting your own business and growing it is an amazing experience and is worth considering, especially if you’re unemployed, or unhappy with your current employment situation.

In fact – right after finding a great partner and experiencing parenthood – I consider starting and growing my business as the most intense experience of my life so far.

But what about security? Starting a business is risky, certainly in the United States where it often means no social benefits – right?

It depends. The way I see it, a home-based business with little or no overhead, that does not require you to take out a loan, is not very risky. If you have an emergency fund that can sustain you for a year even if you don’t have any income during those first few months of growing your business, and if you get health insurance – either through your significant other or a high-deductible private insurance, you should be OK.

As a business owner, you won’t be any less secure than as an employee, because – let’s face it – except for very few instances such as receiving tenure in the academia, a nine-to-five job offers no security whatsoever.

Any safety you have in this situation is an illusion, as we’ve all learned during the Great Recession. Even those “safe” jobs with fat pensions are going to disappear eventually, as pension plans run out of money.

 The only security comes from YOU being smart about YOUR money – saving enough so that you can survive several months – ideally a year – of unemployment.

Which is kind of good news, because if you always wanted to start a business, but worried about security, then you should realise that being a business owner isn’t “less safe” than being an employee.

Current unemployment rates are still high, and as this “jobless recovery” is expected to continue for several more years, now is the time for anyone who has entrepreneurial inclinations and can’t find a job to start their own business. Start slow, don’t grow too fast and certainly avoid debt if you can.

There are plenty of things to worry about when starting a business. But losing your “job security” isn’t one of them, because if you’re a US resident, you never enjoyed much of a safety net anyway.