Career Security – These Days It’s All Up to You

In today’s economy, millions of people are quietly working the same full-time job: looking for work. It’s not what they went to school for, and it’s certainly not the trajectory they imagined their career would take when they first entered the work force.

The term “career” has now taken on new meaning to most Americans. With the national unemployment rate at more than 10 percent, the word has been divorced from its partner “security.” As companies are being acquired, positions are being down-sized, right-sized and simply cut. Security has been sacrificed to the almighty bottom line, and has become something you need to create on your own. As Robert Frost’s famously did, your roads ahead have also diverged. Do you stay with what you know, or strike out on your own?

Striking out

The economic situation is enough to make workers seek out their own security. If you want something done right, better do it yourself. Right?

Well, maybe. It’s true that a recession often signals an impending boom of small business ownership. Before you make any impulsive leaps, though, stop the train. You’ve heard it before: as romantic as it sounds to be an entrepreneur, it is anything but easy. Sadly, 96 percent of small business owners never celebrate a tenth anniversary because they run out of time or money. Or both.

Considering becoming your own boss? Ask yourself:

  1. Do you have the cash to purchase or start a business?
  2. Do you have enough cash to live on for at least six months after you open the business?
  3. Do you really have the self discipline to get up and go to work every day without any supervisor holding you accountable?
  4. Do you have enough business knowledge to be effective at growing a business? Just because everyone loves your cooking, it doesn’t mean you should open a restaurant.
  5.  Do you know how to develop systems to grow your business?
  6. Do you know how to recruit and retain great team members / employees?
  7. Would you consider hiring a business coach to increase your success?

If you do decide to become an entrepreneur, you have four basic options:

  1. You can start your own new business
  2. You can buy an existing business
  3. You can buy an existing business that is a franchise
  4. You can buy a franchise and start your own new business

Buying an existing business is actually more complicated than most people understand. The economy has created a glut of available businesses. Unfortunately, most of them will not sell. They lack either a strong management team, financial record, or established systems.

A business broker can exponentially increase your chances of success. Also, do consider a franchise. Your odds of success are almost tripled by buying a franchise. Think of it this way: you’re investing in a proven system that works. Additionally, the post-sale support you would receive from a franchisor can be invaluable.

What you know

Maybe self-employment is not for you. That’s absolutely fine, but let’s do a quick mindset check. Do you come to work every day and do your job? That maybe was enough in the past. In today’s competitive environment, however, that makes you average. Security is hard for anyone to come by but by exerting a bit more effort, you can keep yourself in line for whatever advantages might exist in your workplace. Has your track record at work separated you from others? Would people in management consider you an A player? These questions aren’t meant to keep you up at night, but if they do, it’s time to do everything you can to secure your future.

Happily ever after is now more a fairy tale than ever. But whichever road you choose – working for yourself or someone else – expert help can make all the difference.

John Lankford

John Lankford was recognized as the 2007-2010 Associate Business Advisor of the Year in North America and brings proven executive experience and best practices to select companies every year. He served 18 years at the Executive Education Center at Ford Motor Company and is former Senior Director of Ascension Health Learning Institute. John has developed top leaders around the world in partnership with the University of Michigan Business School, the Center for Creative Leadership, Comcast University and GE University, to name a few. His business expertise has been tapped by prominent business media such as the New York Times, CBS and Dbusiness magazine and has been a syndicated business columnist. He is the author of The Answer is Leadership and Superstar for life…Career Transitions. John’s keynote speaking has landed him on the elite team that trains and certifies the new Executive Coaches joining the worldwide coaching community. John is also former Chief Executive Officer of the Innisbrook Leadership Institute. Lankford can be reached at john@premierexecutiveforums.com or call (888) 730-1950

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