For years, I was told that I’m good at what I do and that I should think about starting my own business. Let’s face it, we’ve all thought about the “perks” of being our own boss but those dreams get dashed by the fear & uncertainty of being a business owner. This “challenging” economy has shown that “job security” doesn’t exist and a number of folks have hung up a shingle in hopes of creating an opportunity instead of being at the mercy of what’s available.
When I lost my job two years ago, it was not an “ideal” time for me to start a business…hell, it wasn’t an ideal time to be out of work. My daughter was 8 months old and my husband was out of work. I went on the “interview circuit” and was sickened by what I saw; very few firms were interested in the level of experience I had (15 years at the time) and the postings that I noticed called for 5-7 years of experience. I had three versions of my resume; the “true” version covered my 15 years, the “shorted” version covered 10 years and the “dumbed down” version covered 5 years. Which version generated to most responses? The dumbed down version. I went through the exercise of interviewing and I was disgusted by the process. I was in my late 30s at the time and felt sickened by the thought of passing myself off as somebody with 5 years of experience; I hoped the interviewer didn’t notice the grays in my hair since I could no longer afford a decent colorist. The dumbed down version of my resume not only eliminated 10 years of my experience but also didn’t include references to articles that I’ve written, presentations I’ve given, leadership positions I’ve held (I was President-Elect of SMPS-LI at the time) and my extensive association involvement. Yes, I could’ve gone through the motions of interviewing but I knew in my heart of hearts that I was selling myself short and couldn’t help but wonder how happy I would be if I got hired.
When I applied for unemployment, I received a letter from the Department of Labor saying that I was eligible for the Self Employment Assistance Program which would allow me to start a business with the support of the DOL. I had to complete an application and wait to hear if I was accepted. The program required a bunch of deliverables and the completion of 20 hours of classes. At the conclusion of the program, I had an actual business in place.
That’s where the fun began. I started a business that was based around my capabilities but everything that I’ve done to build up my skills were done as an employee or through SMPS. A few months ago, I submitted a proposal for services that I had the capabilities in performing; my representative experience was through my SMPS involvement. I didn’t get the project. I’m facing similar roadblocks as I market the firm to other government agencies because they want to know where I have worked in terms of other public clients so they can properly vet me for work with them. The work that I’ve done to date have been for private clients and I secured those clients through my existing connections. Hopefully, I can find some opportunities as a subconsultant which can help me build a portfolio.