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Chapter 19. Get a Career—or Change the O... > Striking Out on Your Own: The Advant... - Pg. 206

Get a Career--or Change the One You Have Odd: _____ Even: _____ 206 What your score means:If the number in the Odd space is higher, then your concerns are related mostly to doubts about your suitability for self-employment. You should do some self-assessment, using exercises in books on career planning or self-employment or by working with a counselor or coach. That self-assessment can help you explore your skills, abilities, temperament, and willing- ness to take risks and can help you define some priorities and goals for your professional life. Action Tactic If the idea of conducting market research to test your business idea seems daunting, try having informal focus groups with friends. Ask them to point out the pros and cons and make suggestions for how to get it going. Have friends over for pizza or take a few business colleagues out to lunch. If the number in the Even space is higher, then the problem is lack of information. You need to educate yourself about the realities of self-employment. Making It Happen If you find that your mind is racing with business ideas and excitement over the prospect of self- employment, but you're dragging your feet and not getting a business off the ground, try these strategies: · Research.Frequent libraries (especially ones with specialized business collections) as well as the business section of bookstores and business-related Web sites. Also, scour magazines and newspapers for ideas, read biographies or memoirs of successful business owners, or use any other source that can help you develop or assess the viability of a business idea. Market research is an essential foundation of any business, product, or service. · Connect.Talk to other entrepreneurs, both those in businesses similar to the one you want to start, as well as those in unrelated fields who can speak about self-employment in general. Also connect with experts who can advise you about how to start your business or make it grow. · Make a plan.Just as washing one dirty dish may give you the impetus to wash the whole sinkful, writing a business plan can build the momentum necessary to get the business launched. Of course, washing dishes is by no means on an equal plane with starting a business, but tricking yourself into action is the same with both. By starting with the basic step of putting together a business plan, with no expectation that you'll go any further, you make the whole idea of self- employment less overwhelming. You get yourself to move from just considering the idea or worrying about why you haven't started on it to taking concrete action. · Start small.If it's feasible for the type of business you want to start, begin gradually. Instead of quitting your day job and plunging headfirst into the uncertainties of self-employment, try to start on a small scale in your off hours to give the business a trial run or a chance to build up slowly before you have to de-pend on it as your sole source of income and job satisfaction.