The concept of entrepreneurship conjures images of wildly successful billionaires like Richard Branson, tech start-ups amassing fortunes through the development of addictive mobile app games and people who snub “mainstream” jobs to chase vague ideas of “the next big thing” from their parents’ basement. However, the fact remains entrepreneurialism is a quality that all of us need to stash in our career development tool kit.
I’ve written previously about the idea of being a company of one – where we consider ourselves as our own company and pitch our skills to potential employers as if we were gunning for a contract. It’s an important concept to build on, whether you are applying for work or growing your career in an established role. This is because it allows us to take ownership of our skills and experience, rather than feel like we are relying on our employer to provide us with a professional identity.
However, entrepreneurialism can be helpful physically, financially and psychologically when we are experiencing unemployment or searching for “more” in our professional lives. We don’t have to be Richard Branson to think outside the square about career development. It is incredibly easy to feel like it’s all too hard when we’ve had a career setback, or to feel like our potential (or salary) is capped, despite the desire to buy a new car or save a deposit for a new home. However, sometimes, thinking innovatively about the problem can get the ball rolling in a new direction that can enhance our prospects, increase our income or even create a job from nothing.
If you are experiencing unemployment, the one thing that you have in abundance is time. Use it wisely. Open your eyes to the world around you – to what is going on in your home, neighbourhood, community, town and find something that is missing that you could contribute.
Do you have an elderly neighbour who struggles with the lawn mowing or bringing her bins in, for example? Perhaps you know some school kids who need tutoring and are ably qualified to lend a hand? Maybe you are good with your hands and can build pallet furniture? Ask yourself whether the issue that you have identified is one that you believe could be relatively common across the demographic or community and how you could meet this need. Then, while you are looking for more long-term work, you could you market yourself appropriately for a small fee.
Or you could find a way outside of your normal work hours to meet the perceived need and bring in the extra cash you are looking for to save up for that house deposit.
With low-cost or free business support through the Murray Hume Business Enterprise Centre, you don’t have to “wing” the start-up of your micro business.
Plus, social media has opened up the entire world to us and given everyone a voice and a soap box. Starting a small business (however temporary or permanent) has never been more possible.
Finding that entrepreneurial spirit can help you keep active (which is great for your mental health), generate some opportunities for references and build your network. Also, it demonstrates to a future employer that you are proactive, responsive, motivated and driven.
The idea that sparks your inner entrepreneur can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. But however you approach it, there is no feeling on earth, like feeling like you are taking back the control of your life. Even Richard Branson started somewhere.