Self Employment is Not Just for Entrepreneurs!
By Thomas W. McKee One month before my 51st birthday, on Halloween, I was downsized. Filled with fear, anger and rejection, I launched into a state of panic wondering just how up-to-date my skills were in this fast changing world. But October 31, 1992 has proven to be one of the best days of my life. While I had entertained a dream for many years, it took this crisis to make it happen.
|My wife Susie was out
of town on that Halloween day, and I was left to face the hundreds of trick-or-treaters
from our neighborhood. I thought this would be a good diversion, allowing me to focus on
the excitement of young kids, but my enthusiasm and positive thinking only lasted about
fifteen minutes. Deflated, I turned out the lights, went into my bedroom, turned on the TV
and ate all of the Halloween candyhundreds of those little Snickers bars.
The new millennium is ushering in a whole new work force. Downsizing, reengineering and reorganizing are leaving talented people without work. Many are at their prime earning power and are being left without promising options. Words like "free agency" and "self employed" are not just for the entrepreneur anymore. By the year 2010, some forecasters are projecting that 50% of the American workforce will be self-employed. In 1996 alone, more than 6.3 million Americans started their own businesses and more than 800,000 new corporations were formed. Newsweek recently reported that in 1997, 10.5 million workers were self-employed compared to 7 million in 1970, and that 26% of workers had been in their current jobs for 12 months or less. Only 15% had the same job for three to four years. In 1999, corporate layoffs fueled by merger mania have reached their highest levels in a decade.
Many workers are very cynical about these changes. Why is Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert and author of The Dilbert Principle, one of this decades best selling authors of management books? Dilbert speaks to the cynical attitude of todays workers who have been downsized, reengineered and restructured. The message of the 90s has been downsizing. Since 1989 more than 8 million workers have been laid off annually from major corporations.
I was a trainer, counselor, and human resource specialist. I wasnt an entrepreneur. What was I going to do? The day after I was downsized I went for a long walk and began the process of outlining the business that has restored my passion, given me a new sense of hope, encouragement and inspiration, and has culminated in the development of my new career. I outlined the eight imperatives to beginning a new business. Four of these eight essentials are knowledge, vision, faith and action.
The foundation of a dream must be knowledge. Intellectual capital is the foundation for increasing your value. I laid out my personal course to include reading, attending workshops, listening to tapes, and visiting the library.
Vision must follow knowledge. Vision without knowledge is only a dream. I began each month by answering the following question: "What are 20 creative ideas as a self-employed person I can do to connect my passion with my knowledge and the needs in our changing society?" I developed some creative ideas, but one idea kept rising to the top of the list and that idea excited my passionI wanted to teach people in transition how to thrive rather than survive in corporate downsizing, restructuring and mergers. If I could do it, anybody could. My vision began to take shape.
At 3:00 a.m. visions often seem more like nightmares and doubts can feel overwhelming. Faith is the only answer for doubt, but faith is no stronger than its object. Faith without knowledge is mere presumption. Woken by haunting doubts, I often got up in the middle of the night and revisited my business plan to reaffirm my faith in my vision. I often could not get back to sleep, but it was because of excitement, not doubt.
Action without knowledge, vision and faith is misguided energy. And knowledge, vision, and faith without action is only a wish. As Peter Drucker says, "Sooner or later everything degenerates to work." The action came through the marketing of my business and that took networking, phone calls, writing, speaking and many twelve-hour days.
Knowledge, vision, faith and action are only four of the eight essentials that I outlined that morning. The other four essentials are: discover your passion, focus that passion, manage the transition phases, and think strategically (foster entrepreneurial thinking).
This Halloween I will celebrate a seven-year birthday of the new self-employed me. In the past seven years I have had the opportunity to work with companies such as Hewlett Packard, the Money Store, Level One, the IRS, California Department of General Services, Procter and Gamble, Allstate Insurance Company, and Lyondell-Citgo Refinery Company. I teach their managers and supervisors how to lead their teams through transitional stages. Halloween day has turned out to be a great holiday for mea celebration of the day I became self-employed.
Thomas W. McKee is the president of Advantage Point Systems, Inc., a staff development company that trains managers and supervisors how to build synergistic teams during times of transition. He is the author of the new book, They Dont Play My Music Anymore, which discusses the eight essentials for creating your future when your world keeps changing. For more information on equipping managers and supervisors with needed skills to face change, or for an expanded or condensed version of this article, please contact Tom at (916) 987-0359 or click here to fill out a form and we will contact you. Thanks for visiting!
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