If you can't find a job, it might be time to be your own boss

Be Your Own Boss

by Lynn Bulmahn


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Whether you're a student out of school for summer, an unhappy employee, or someone who has been downsized, it is possible to get work even if companies aren't hiring.

Instead of relying on a corporate paycheck, entrepreneurs are becoming more innovative about making a living or adding to their regular incomes. Being your own boss means that you can overcome a slow economy, discrimination, and a host of problems common in the corporate world.

In his book No More Mondays (later reprinted as No More Dreaded Mondays), author Dan Miller makes the case for going into business for yourself. It doesn't have to be a big firm in an office complex. Miller tells of people founding unique small business, such as the man who built him a sidewalk.

For instance, Miller writes about a family in Mexico who took freezers to small groceries and stocked them with frozen treats they'd made themselves. The stores sold the goodies, earning the family a good living.

Don't be blind to money-making opportunities around you. Chances are, they're not glamorous. Families need help cleaning, baby-sitting, staying with elderly people, or moving furniture.

At various times of the year, people's to-do lists may include raking leaves, weeding gardens, mowing lawns, washing and waxing their car, putting up Christmas lights, or cleaning out gutters and flower beds. Let folks know you're available for such odd jobs!

You may have skills others lack. Think of baking and decorating birthday cakes, hooking up a flat screen TV, playing piano, tutoring math, teaching someone to play music, sewing, designing a website, installing ceiling fans, or painting.

Here are some real-life examples of people who are making a living or supplementing their paycheck on their own:

  • Mother of a large family, Bobbi can clean out closets and garages with the best of them. She's turned her talents into a business. While the kids are at school, she goes to people's homes and organizes their storage areas. Sometimes, she's offered their cast-offs, which she uses for her own family or sells.
  • Jana moved back in with her parents after graduation. She often gets a paid "vacation" from this. She advertises her services as a house sitter. She stays in a wealthier family's spare bedroom while they're gone out of town. While her employers enjoy Vegas, a ski trip or a cruise, Jana enjoys their luxurious home, their cable TV, and sometimes their swimming pool. She's paid for this! She cares for their pets and gardens, waters their plants, and still goes to her day job.
  • After a layoff, Lew bought old washing machines and dryers from garage sales. He'd fix them up and sell them at a flea market. "From every three washers, I could usually get two working, using the third for spare parts," he said. His profits paid his bills. This led to a career. A man wanted to retire from his coin laundry business and sold it to Lew.
  • Paul's homemade motorcycles were never competition for Harley-Davidson, but Fisher-Price might notice. Paul has made many a motorcycle version of a rocking horse. They're made from free materials, namely discarded wooden pallets he finds in alleys. During events when motorcyclists flock to his state, Paul displays his rocking motorcycles at local businesses with a sign telling tourists how to order one. Many bikers are grandfathers, so their favorite toddler gets a "motorcycle" from Santa Claus.
  • Jack detested his night job. In the mornings, he began mowing lawns, trimming trees, and doing general handyman work. To drum up business, he bought a magnet sign for his truck and began driving it around the new suburb near his home. When people inquired about his services, he handed them business cards. He soon quit his night job.

If pounding the pavement hasn't produced a regular paycheck, think of ways to earn money on your own. With luck, you may be able to surpass the money you'd make working for someone else.

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