How To Work For Yourself
In a crummy economy where jobs are scarce, Scott Gerber, author of Never Get A Real Job, believes that the only way to secure your employment and financial future is to start a company.
“The resume-driven society says, ‘if we work hard and go to school, we’ll get a job and be ok.’ That traditional thinking no longer applies,” says Gerber. “Now, more than ever, you need to be entrepreneurial to be successful; you need to create a job to keep a job.”
“When you work for someone else you’re putting all your eggs into one basket that you don’t own or hold. If you want to secure your financial future regardless of the bad economy, you need to be in control of your own life,” he insists.
Ready to take a stab at entrepreneurship?
First, you’ve got to curb your ego “You can’t build a successful business if you don’t have your priorities straight and ego in check,” says Gerber.
While entrepreneurs should be confident, if you go overboard you’ll get in your own way.
Keep it simple, stupid “If your idea is not simple, you’re stupid,” says Gerber. “Build a business that is nuts and bolts practical and not complex.”
“Create a simplified product or service that sells X product to Y customer for Z profit,” he says.
Always be prepared for the worst-case scenario (because it will happen) “Every decision should be thought through; plan for the worst so you’re not caught off guard if it happens,” says Gerber.
“Come up with three alternatives for every decision so you’ve taken all outcomes into consideration,” he suggests.
Be unoriginal “Too many people think they need to reinvent the wheel, but if they do, the wheel will run them over,” says Gerber. “Instead, focus on bettering an idea that already exists.” Use creativity to market an unoriginal idea. “Think of the guys who started College Hunks Hauling Junk,” says Gerber. “They put a creative spin on a pre-existing idea. At its core, it’s just a junk removal business.”
Make sure your business isn’t a bottomless pit “Start a business that is efficient with few monetary demands in the beginning,” says Gerber.
For entrepreneurs will minimal resources, Gerber says to start a business around the little cash available. “Your ideas, then, need to be focused on making money. When I started out, I didn’t have much at all. I just focused on business ideas that could turn a profit quicker and didn’t have many startup costs.”
Become a brilliant cheapskate “If you want to start a business, you need to change the way you spend money,” says Gerber.
“Know the difference between a frivolous expense and a necessity that can be bartered, bargained for, or partnered on.”
Don’t partner with just anyone Assess if a partnership makes sense before you jump into it.
“Your friends might seem like the best partners, but they might end up slacking off and doing nothing. Or someone who seems great might take you through the ringer later on,” says Gerber. “Make sure you evaluate what a partner can bring to the table and make sure it’s worth it.”
Toss the old school business plan Gerber is a fan of one paragraph startup plans. Anything longer is not necessary. “Stop thinking you have to write a business plan for investors or dense dissertations. You don’t need a traditional plan to be a small business owner,” Gerber says.
“Business planning isn’t a revenue-generating opportunity. Instead, get started on your business so you can make money as soon as possible.”
Gerber recommends writing one paragraph in question and answer format in lieu of a 95-page plan that takes six months to put together. “Don’t use business plan software, don’t listen to experts — they’re nonsense. All you need to do is organize your thoughts in a way that’s good for your business.”
Phones won’t ring themselves By this, Gerber means to constantly be marketing your company in new, creative ways.
“Put yourself out into the world. Always be selling yourself without being a used car salesman,” he says. “Join groups, network regularly, and find different ways to get your business in front of people.”
Be afraid Be afraid to have never failed. In other words, the idea of not trying should scare you.
“Be afraid to wake up 10, 20, 30 years from now and be pointing your finger at the TV saying, that was my idea!” says Gerber. “What you should never be afraid of is to never get a real job.”
Finally, stop listening to your parents and thinking you need to validate your college degree Most people have dreamt of being their own boss, setting their own hours, and having every minute of work be directly beneficial. According to Gerber, whether you’re just graduating college or are already in the workforce, this dream is possible.
“College kids should be starting businesses. They are at the point in their lives where they can scale their livelihoods down, and they have extra time to put in hard work,” says Gerber.
“Generation Y: Stop listening to your parents and thinking you need to validate your college degree with a ‘real’ job,” he cautions. “Instead, build your own financial future; use your time wisely now so it will pay dividends when you’re older.”
For people who already have traditional jobs, it’s not too late to start a personal endeavor. “Just take a look around and see that [by working for someone else] you’re putting all eggs into one basket that you don’t own or hold,” says Gerber.
“If you want to secure your financial future regardless of the bad economy, you need to be in control of your own life. That doesn’t mean that entrepreneurship is easy, but it allows you to make your own destiny. Every hour of work can be for you — that’s a major change from a 9-5 job.”