You Go Girl! Create Your Own Job Now

Karen Terry The Great Recession might be a dark cloud that actually has a silver lining for women who want to create their own jobs and be their own bosses.

"There has never been a better time to start a new business," said Karen Terry, a women's business coach and mentor based in Houston. "Many women who work in corporate America dream of starting their own business but are afraid. Other women who are stuck at the highest levels of their careers and have hit the glass ceiling wonder when they can be their own bosses." Being laid off or downsized actually forces you to take some risks.

"Many women are getting severance packages, or unemployment benefits, due to the recession. They can use those unexpected windfalls to finance their own business," said Terry, author of 'Full Time Woman; Part Time Career.' "Getting fired or laid off could actually be a blessing in disguise."

Terry's tips for making that leap

1. For women who are still working at a corporation, create a financial safety net. Start saving money by skipping the extra coffee or newspaper. All that money adds up and can come in handy when you are running your new business. "It is hard to walk away from a steady paycheck. But it is easier if you know you can get by for a few months without having to worry about money," she said.

2. Get one new client before you leave your current job -- if you can. "Every little bit helps. For a lot of people it is scary to quit a job and not have any clients lined up. Clients translate into income, which helps ease the transition to self-employment," she said.

Full Time Woman, book cover 3. Use your network. If you are going through a career change, don't assume you can't use your existing network. "Your current network already knows you, and some of them may have needs in your new career field," she said. "Your existing network may surprise you. They might be doing things that you are not aware of and they might need to hire you."

4. Do some professional development. You need to identify your skills. If you are weak in certain areas then take a class so you can become the best you can be. For example, a lot of women aren't skilled in contract negotiations. "Some women tend to just give in and then they don't get what they want," she said.

5. Find out what your client wants and then create it. "This is an essential marketing strategy. If you create materials and hope your clients buy it, that's not a good strategy," she said. "A good business is created in response to a need in the marketplace."

6. Find a mentor. Work with someone who has also had experience running a business -- a female would be especially helpful. "A woman may be more aware of special programs for minority-owned businesses," she said.

She practices what she preaches

Terry has used all these techniques in starting her own companies. She was employed by two industry leaders in the high-tech fields of GPS (global positioning systems) and GIS (geographic information systems), before launching her own company 12 year ago as a certified software instructor, and has recently added the title of "coach" to her resume.

When Terry was self-employed, many people approached her, wanting to learn how to start their own businesses. Some were new moms who sought a flexible or part-time career they could have while raising a family. Terry offered advice and informal coaching, which led her to write her award-winning book, 'Full-Time Woman, Part-Time Career,' and to starting yet another business helping women create their own jobs and businesses.

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