Thursday, November 11, 2004

Tips for Those Considering Self-Employment

Tips for Those Considering Self-Employment

Wed Nov 10, 2:11 PM ET

By The Associated Press

Self-employment can be a rewarding career path. But experts say you should think about a few things before you make a move:

_ Have you ever worked in the business you're considering? If not, get a job in the field — or interview several people who do what you want to do. "You want to learn from the people who are doing well," says Stacey Mayo, a certified career coach and author of "I Can't Believe I Get Paid To Do This."

_ How much do you know about running a business? Do you have a business plan? Do you have seed money? Many higher learning institutions offer courses and entire programs on self-employment. Experts also suggest visiting your library or local bookstore to check out the many books written on the topic.

"Somebody may be very good at what they do; they may be good with a computer, or a good graphic artist or a plumber," says Gene Fairbrother from the National Association for the Self-Employed. "But knowing how to be a good plumber is not going to make them successful in their own business."

_ Fairbrother also advises against moving too quickly, especially if you've never run your own business. As he often tells people who want to work for themselves, "Speed kills."

20-Somethings Find Ways to Be Own Boss

20-Somethings Find Ways to Be Own Boss

Wed Nov 10, 2:11 PM ET

By MARTHA IRVINE, AP National Writer

CHICAGO - Sarah Levy loved being a restaurant pastry chef — but not the long hours, the low pay or the constant yelling in high-stress kitchens. So this spring, the 23-year-old Chicagoan moved to a different kitchen — at her parents' home — and launched her own pastry and candy business. While it's not for everybody, there are signs that more young people have been testing out the idea of being their own boss.

Levy is one of the lucky ones; she got financial backing from her dad to help start the business. A number of other young people are also striking out on their own, driven by everything from a wish for more flexibility to a chance to test their own ideas.

A few recent college graduates, including 22-year-old Noah Thomas, say the tough job market they encountered last spring also motivated them to create their own options. Thomas, who lives in Columbia, S.C., and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in marketing and finance, spent about three months looking for a job with no luck.

"Nothing was happening for me," Thomas says. "I didn't hear back from a lot of people — didn't even know what happened to my resumes."

So with a small amount of savings in his pocket, he started checking out less-expensive franchise options and bought into All About Honeymoons, a travel business that specializes in trips for newlyweds. As his business is getting off the ground, he's also teaching an SAT prep course to supplement his income.

Nationwide, it's difficult to estimate the number of young small business owners: The federal Small Business Administration does not keep statistics by age.

But there are signs of growth. The Virginia-based Young Entrepreneurs' Organization — a group founded in 1987 that requires $1 million in annual sales before it will admit a business owner — now counts 95 U.S. members younger than 30 in its ranks.

And a first-time survey done this year by the National Association for the Self-Employed found that about 15 percent of its members are in their 20s or early 30s.

Gene Fairbrother, a small business consultant at the Texas-based nonprofit, says the percentage is significant because — even as recently as three years ago — young people rarely called for any sort of small-business advice.

"But not anymore," says Fairbrother, who believes cutbacks in some job sectors have played a role. He also credits the growing number of university programs that focus on entrepreneurship.

That doesn't mean that self-employment is for everyone, says Stacey Mayo, an Atlanta-based certified career coach. Some people, she says, start researching a business of interest only to realize that they'd rather fine-tune their current career than deal with the headaches of long hours and the tough decisions a boss has to make.

Still, "it's definitely worth exploring," she says.

Even if self-employment is not a long-term endeavor, it can be a way to stay afloat during a job search. That's what 29-year-old Frank Strong learned after he got laid off from a startup public relations consulting firm in 2002.

"I resolved to learn what I could as a freelancer until the right opportunity came along," says Strong, who lives in Arlington, Va., and now has a full-time job with a business communications firm — much to his relief.

"Out on my own, the full gravity of capitalism — with both its opportunities and its drawbacks — set in," says Strong, who was kept up many a night worrying about money.

Regardless, Ana Sanchez, a graphic artist and recent art school graduate, says she'd still rather have flexibility than job security.

"Freelancing keeps me on my toes," the 22-year-old New Yorker says. "It forces me to do my best work because I know that my next job depends on my performance."

Conor McDonough agrees. He recently left the Web design job he got after graduating from Cornell University last year.

"I got dissatisfied with the rigid structure of the whole deal. There wasn't enough room for my own _expression," he says.

McDonough now runs his own Web design firm, — mostly from his home base of New York. But he's found that having his own Web-based business has another advantage: He can do it from just about anywhere. That allowed him to travel to Boston on short notice to gather around a TV with friends as the Red Sox won the World Series (news - web sites).

"That definitely would not be possible if I worked for a big corporation," says McDonough who's able to make a living — and has hired some freelancers to help with some jobs.

Back in Chicago, Levy has already hired some part-time staff to help her fill candy and pastry orders — working to the sound of music videos playing on a TV in the background. Mom and dad stay out of the way, too. And she makes it a point to be a placid boss.

"My kitchen atmosphere is definitely very calm," she says. "No yelling."

On the Net:
National Association for the Self-Employed:

Young Entrepreneurs' Organization:

Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization:
Martha Irvine is a national writer specializing in coverage of people in their 20s and younger.

She can be reached at mirvine(at)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Bush Country 2004: THE MANDATE No Mistake About It

Mommy Tell Me

Mommy, Tell Me What Is War?
I Never Heard The Word Before,
But Now I See It On T.V.
On Every Channel That I See.
In School I Hear The Teachers Say
That They Are Worried Every Day.
So Tell Me Mommy, I'm Unsure --
Should I Be Afraid Of War?

The Question That You Ask, My Son
Is Truly Not An Easy One
Some Will Say That War Is HATE-
The World Is In An Awful State.
But Son, With Freedom On Our Side
So Many Go To War With PRIDE-
They Fight To Show The World They Care
And See The Hardships That They Bare.
Our Soldiers Raise Their Heads Up High
And For Our Country Some Will Die;
They Put Their Lives, Son, On The Line
To Give Their Country Piece Of Mind.
They Fight To Give A Boy Like You
The Freedom That You Have To Choose.
The Things We Take For Granted, Son
They Want To Give To Everyone.
So Do Not Fear, For What They Do

There Is One Last Thing I Must Tell,
Please Listen To This Very Well-
What You Can Do To Help Them There
Is Keep Those Soldiers In Your Prayers.
Pray That When Your Job Is Done
They Come Home Safely, My Sweet Son.
You see, They All Have Mothers Too
Who Love Them Just As I Love You.