By Janet Civitelli
This blog post continues my series of interviews with people who started businesses following a job loss. This interview is with author/infopreneur/coach Melanie Jordan.
What type of career did you have before you launched your business? I was a marketing professional for over 20 years (including being a former VP of Marketing for one of the country's largest banks). I also did a fair amount of sales training.
Describe the circumstances of your job loss, how long you looked for a job, and how your job search went. I was laid off for the second time in my professional career when a private financial education company I worked for had over expanded and had to reduce its sales force. As the second trainer hired, I was the first to go -- exactly one day after I got the highest possible review and raise! I did look for a job for well over a year, but knowing that it was unlikely, given the economy and workplace changes, that I would get anything commensurate with my talents or pay level, I focused just as hard on working on taking my sideline business that I had been moonlighting with, full-time. I wasn't counting on others to give me a job - I was making my own job! While I hadn't planned to go full-time with my business at that precise time, getting laid off again was to me a sign that maybe it was the right time.
How did you survive financially while you started your business? I had savings--I was never one to live from paycheck to paycheck. Plus, unlike others, I viewed my unemployment as a "federal grant" that would help tide me over until I could get my business going strong enough in the event I couldn't find an appropriate job.
How does your current income compare to your previous income? I'm not at the level of my prior income...yet--that should occur next year. But I'm completely self-sufficient, and making enough that I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay my bills, and can instead focus on my business.
What skills and previous experience were you able to bring to your business that help you to succeed? My extensive marketing, sales and training experience were a natural fit and gave me skills that I could instantly offer to others on a select basis. And then all my experience online since 2001 as a writer and publisher, and in doing online marketing, which eventually evolved into original content infopreneuring gave me the experience I needed to take my own work to the next level. I divide my time between client work, and furthering my own original content information products and services.
What is the best part about running your business? The freedom to have a completely flexible lifestyle as a home-based entrepreneur. If I want to work from anywhere in the county, or the world for that matter, as long as I have my laptop, a good Internet connection and a phone (and I don't always need the phone), I'm good. I love to be able to go the gym when it's least crowded, and to get time off from the boss (a.k.a. me) at a moment's notice. I never have to ask to take a vacation, and I can take one whenever I want.
What is the most challenging part about running your company? I'm my own toughest boss -- very self-motivated and I love what I do--so sometimes it's hard for me to stop working and disconnect for a while.
What new skills did you need to learn to be a successful entrepreneur? Managing my cash flow, social media/new media and to stop looking at the job classifieds when the going got tough and just persevere.
What career advice do you have for job searchers who may be considering an entrepreneurial path? Make sure that you are honest about your financial situation first. Don't just pull a "Jet Blue" and be the flight attendant who pulls the emergency chute without first deciding if you can afford to outright quit your day job. The least stressful way to take an entrepreneurial path is to make your business a sideline first and then go full-time when it makes sense, or at least have it as a "Plan B" so that if you lose your job, you're already well on the way to being able to stand on your own two feet in case you can't get another job, or you simply don't want to. That's one of the reasons I believe that original content infopreneuring (what I do) makes a great moonlighting venture since it's virtual, can be done from a home office or really anywhere, has flexible hours and low start-up costs.
Anything else you would like to share? Most people think being an entrepreneur is risky, but I think being an employee is far riskier because you are never in control of your own destiny -- today's workplace bears this out. If you have the ability to approach your entrepreneurial path the right way and stay the course, it's so worth it!