You know your hyper-ambitious-friend with the start-up scented candle business, who comes to your house once a week to ask your opinion on how her new gingerbread-chocolate-popcorn- scented candles smell? She may be a total pain, but next time she stops by, humor her. She’s doing a good thing for the economy.
According to the U.S. Small Business Association, small businesses (those with less than 500 employees) create over half of our nation’s GDP and nearly two-thirds of all new jobs. Additionally, according to CareerBuilder’s latest survey, unemployed workers have a good chance of being hired by a small business — or starting one of their own — during the second half of 2010.
“Historically, it has been the small business sector that has created the most jobs at the end of an economic downturn, allowing the overall job market to bounce back faster,” said Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. “The intellectual capital that companies were forced to lay off over the last 18-24 months was substantial and it is not surprising that many individuals are using their business skills to create their own opportunities.”
According to the CareerBuilder survey, from July-December 2010:
- Thirty-two percent of companies with 500 or less employees plan to hire new workers.
- Twenty-one percent will hire full-time, 11 percent will hire part-time and 6 percent will hire contractors or temporary workers.
- Twenty-four percent of companies with 50 or less employees plan to bring on new workers.
- Twenty-six percent of workers who were laid off in the last six-months say they are considering starting a small business instead of looking for full-time work.
The survey also found that there is no shortage of imagination when it comes to small-biz start-ups, either. The following is a sampling of the types of businesses survey participants indicated they have started over the last year (check out lucky #13, that candle-hawking friend story was no joke):
- Board Game Design
- Cleaning Company
- Computer Services
- Craft and Antique Business
- E-commerce retail site/EBay
- Event Planning
- Freelance Journalist
- HR Consulting
- Lawn Service
- Recycled Yarn Retail Store
- Scented Candle Business
- Sports Camp for Kids
Whether you’re thinking about starting your own version of Merry Maids or you’re looking to give Mrs. Fields a run for her money, below are a few ideas (get more tips here, here and here) to take into consideration before starting your own small business:
- Build off what (and whom) you know: Use the knowledge from your past experiences and jobs to develop your business. Reach out to former colleagues, vendors, clients, etc. to let them know that you’re in business for yourself.
- Try contract or freelance work first: Taking on contract and temporary opportunities will help you build your portfolio and networking contacts. If you’re in a product-based business, take on small jobs or orders first, to work out any kinks. If you’re starting a bakery, for example, offer to cater desserts for a family celebration, before taking on paying customers.
- Promote your business with social media:Promote your personal brand by starting a blog, or using sites like Facebook, Twitter, Brightfuse.com and others. Make sure to include links to past work, testimonials and accomplishments.
- Consider a franchise: Going in on a franchise business with others or on your own can be a great way to dip your foot in the water of owning your own business. Franchisees gain access to the names, resources, and marketing materials of well-known companies, in exchange for a percentage of the franchise profit.
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