Today's Jobless: Tomorrow's Entrepreneurs?

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Every day we read about higher unemployment rates, lack of job creation and projections that the outlook is unlikely to change soon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recognizes that the majority of new jobs will come from small businesses.

The reality is, many of the millions of unemployed will need to start a business to find a job. Career derailment may just mean its time to get on another track as a business owner and entrepreneur.

When it comes to those who have more than succeeded at creating notable companies from career adversity, you may find inspiration from the likes of Oprah Winfrey (Harpo Studios); Steve Jobs (Apple, NeXT and Pixar); Mark Cuban (Broadcast.com); or Nolan Bushnell (Atari).

Independent contractor, consultant or business owner

You've heard the old adage: The only certainties are death and taxes. Job security is no longer a given, and whether employed or not, we are always "on the market." We are all free agents with skills, perseverance and a clear understanding of our capabilities; we are our own products to be packaged, priced and marketed to qualified prospects. Not only are you the product, it may be time for you to be the business that owns the product.

You've been an employee. How different would it be to be your own boss? There are many options for how:

  • As an independent contractor for other companies.
  • As a consultant, putting all those corporate and professional skills to work for multiple clients.
  • As a business owner with a business name (J. Doe Inc. or J. Doe LLC); you can still be a consultant, sell products and services, but this goes further by formalizing your business legal status.

Each option has benefits and drawbacks. Whichever you choose, and whether it's "until I can find another job" or if you decide you want to run your own business regardless of the job market, changing your perspective from "unemployed worker" to "free agent and business owner" enables you to look at your skill set from a different perspective.

First, you will recognize that there are alternatives to working for someone else. You will look at your experience and skill set from a perspective of "product" marketing against the competition. You will be marketing not a dry resume, but the benefits you bring to a prospective employer.

Jobs for you and others

With the majority of jobs created by small businesses (and all businesses start small), you may find that you and several colleagues can come together to create financial independence for yourselves -- and jobs for others. Even in tough economic times, new businesses and smart business people can succeed, grow and thrive. It takes planning, realism and hard work. It also takes some funds, but you don't have to be independently wealthy to start a business (although it doesn't hurt!).

Your next career: Entrepreneur

The first step is a realistic assessment of what you will start with. Take a hard, honest look at the following list to assess your readiness to start your own business.

  • Experience and expertise.
  • Contacts and networks.
  • Tools and resources: computers, money, people and space.
  • Commitments and constraints: living expenses, sources of alternative cash flow, bank accounts, spouse's income, first "investors" (for example, credit cards and, as a result, your credit score), time, space, baggage from previous employers (noncompete or nondisclosure agreements, for instance).

Once you know where you will start, then comes deciding what to do and how to do it. Having a clear picture of what you want to do, what resources you have available and what you are willing to give up in the near term (from one to three years), as well as what commitments of time and resources you can't change, you'll have the basis for creating a business that will provide the financial independence you want.

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