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Are You An Unintentional Entrepreneur?

You are no longer a corporate employee by way of lay-off or down sizing, will you be defined as an Unintentional Entrepreneur? Where do you turn now?
Written Jul 27, 2009, read 875 times since then.


It’s hitting my social circle, my friends, those who have been in the corporate world  -  and now all of a sudden aren’t.
They may become what is known as the Unintentional Entrepreneur.

They are feeling frustrated, lost and confused as they try to deal with all the changes in their life, even the way to look for a job has changed. There are now online sites for jobs, business networking groups and online profiles - all areas that those who have been in the corporate world are now being challenged by since recently becoming unemployed. Then add on the many different versions of our current conditions of employment when it comes to looking for a job. Some say there are no jobs, other say there are lots of jobs to be had. Who’s right?

I believe there are jobs out there. But at what cost?

As a self-employed individual when I sat down next to a friend while looking at the unemployment divisions’ website together, I saw job listing that gave me such heartache it was unbelievable! Not only was my friend looking at going from a mid-range/comfortable salary earner to a less than acceptable hourly rate, but the jobs being offered are looking for employees that can lasso the moon, assist everyone in the office from the receptionist to the CEO, oh - and by the way, clean the bathroom before you lock up. I was shocked! This is not an exaggeration, but it was right there, in black and white under my cursor.

Is this anyway to work?

The answer is no to spending three-quarters of your life in a job that is less then adequate. It’s bad enough to be laid off for a myriad of reasons, but then to be slapped in the professional-face by the industry to whom you have been loyal and devoted?

The times in which we are living and doing business have been changing.

Our world can change so fast, and let’s face it, there is a lot going on. Trying to stay on top of how business is changing may not be at the top of your priority list. However, there is an ebb and flow to the economy, To thrive in any economic adversity you need to be able to change with the current conditions. And at the very least, not fall flat with no options before you.

News Flash!
We come from a history where small business, mom and pop shops supported our economy. We are there again and we can make it work again. As the corporate world crumbles around us, there are few other options to pursue.

So - you’re an Unintentional Entrepreneur, now what?

I am reading on Biznik the number of people with this line somewhere in their profile (or something close to it) “I’ve been recently laid off and I am considering starting my own business. I am in need of ideas and places for help.

The good news: is that these people are one step in the right direction, Biznik is a wonderful community full of experts in their own right with words of wisdom and encouragement.

The bad news: is that there aren’t many places that offer the Unintentional Entrepreneur guidance that incorporates the strategies for this new economy and the recent market shifts.

So what are the options available to the Unintentional Entrepreneur?
Going back to school.
Many of the colleges have an accelerated program for the “working professional.” Which is perfect for those who are planning ahead or may have received a “golden parachute” with their walking papers and can afford this option in both the time and money. But will another degree really help if the last one just let you down?

Just Do It. (I’ve heard that somewhere before)
Starting your own business and learning along the way. It’s been done. The school of hard knocks can be an effective option for those whose business may be truly innovative. None other like it, so there is no model to follow, no mentor to support you. However, as intriguing and exciting an adventure, this option may take more of an investment in time and money than you care to give. It’s ok to fail, that’s how we learn. But the basic building blocks to business are still necessary.

Business and Life Coaches.
Are wonderful options. An objective perspective can be vital to our business, especially when you are feeling stuck and are not sure where to turn. Let’s be truthful here. When you are self-employed your life is your business to a certain extent. We all need to learn where the boundaries are and how to deal with the demands that being our own employer makes on us as individuals and to those in our lives.

Start Connecting and Networking

You have taken the first step by connecting with Biznik. The experts on this site are endless, full of ideas. Watch and participate in the forums and the in-person events. This community of strictly the self-employed are a wealth of knowledge and are an invaluable asset.

Get connected with other professionals in your specific industry.
Go to their networking and educational events, many may be free or low cost. Meeting people in your industry will be one of the best things you can do for your business now and in the future. They may be aware of the trends that can help and support you in the growth of your business.

Go online and see who keeps appearing in an area that you have a need or an interest. Check out their websites, follow these people on their blogs and other blogs and ask questions. By doing so you will find the information you need and the courses that will support you as you transition to an Intentional Entrepreneur.

One organization that offers support to the entrepreneur is the Self Employed Academy, right here in Portland Oregon. They are extremely aware of how today’s economic crisis is effecting business, especially for those finding themselves taking their talents and expertise and turning them into a profitable business. Their 6-week course covers business and current market shifts as well as offering modules geared towards meeting the specific needs of the self employed.

Lastly remember - change is good.
At first glance being an entrepreneur may not not make your heart beat fast - well, maybe not in a good way. But if the opportunity presents itself, take a good look at the options. If you have the expertise, the talent, the drive and or passion to bring what you do to the market place, then you can be self employoed business owner.

Being a life-long-learner is someone who is driven to success, especially as an entrepreneur. Just be sure that the information and education you are paying for will really get you to the business you will love. Theory is important, but well documented and researched case studies put into a practical and realistic application will move your business ahead. And nothing takes the place of a sound business foundation.

I would love to hear from other Unintentional as well as Intentional Entrepreneurs and how you maneuvered into the world of the self employed.

What resources did you use, find or are currently using that have been invaluable for you to succeed in business.

Let’s grow our entrepreneurial community strong and successful into the future!

Thanks for your in put.


Learn more about the author, Roberta MacLaren.

Comment on this article

  • Solo Pro Business Success Expert, Founder Solo Pro Academy, Host Solo Pro Radio 
Portland, Oregon 
Barbara Saunders
    Posted by Barbara Saunders, Portland, Oregon | Jul 27, 2009

    Nice article, Roberta. I think it's extremely sad and painful to watch professionals going through a futile 'job search'. I see reports on the news where they tell people to just 'polish up their resumes and get out there.' Yes there is tons of work - but there are no jobs.

    It's sad to watch people on the same treadmill - buy a degree, get laidoff, buy another degree, get laidoff again and over and over.

    I agree that the best alternative for professionals (people who have definable skills for a definable market) is to take control of their career development and jump in.

    How cool to have a place that walks you through the transition!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Holistic Business Coach 
Portland, Oregon 
Taylor Ellwood
    Posted by Taylor Ellwood, Portland, Oregon | Jul 28, 2009

    I went through a futile job search that lasted until March of this year. No matter where I turned or what I applied for I couldn't get any bites. I had already started my own business and as time went on, I realized that I already had started my new career and needed to give it my full attention.

    And what helped? Networking, lots and lots of networking, and also patience...because it takes time to start up a business and get clients.

    Taylor Ellwood

  • Solo Pro Business Success Expert, Founder Solo Pro Academy, Host Solo Pro Radio 
Portland, Oregon 
Barbara Saunders
    Posted by Barbara Saunders, Portland, Oregon | Jul 28, 2009

    Taylor, you're an excellent example. I've watched you since you burst on the scene. You've been everywhere, and you've brought the right mix of being personable and really professional. But then you went the extra step and demonstrated your knowledge by sharing it and teaching it.

    Don't you wish the news would cover the 'real' stories sometime.


  • Life, Prosperity, and Small Business Coach. Author. Speaker. Trainer. Singer/Songwriter. 
Seattle, Washington 
Kate Phillips
    Posted by Kate Phillips, Seattle, Washington | Jul 28, 2009

    Really nice article, Roberta!

    The job market is frightening right now... and I know another degree doesn't necessarily help, as my brother's recent MBA has shown.

    I believe it's a powerful thing to get to the place where we choose to determine our own fate rather than look for our next boss. Ultimately, I think we'll be able to build a healthier economy with more cottage industries and self-employed individuals.

    Is it easy being self-employed? Absolutely not! (You might even have to clean the bathroom to start...) But the crumbling job market helps to propel us onward, as we look behind us and see the ships that brought us here in flames.

  • Marketing Mentor 
Gresham, Oregon 
Roberta MacLaren
    Posted by Roberta MacLaren, Gresham, Oregon | Jul 28, 2009

    Thank you Barbara, Taylor and Kate,

    Kate, you made a perfect point that I strongly agree with - and that is with small and self-employed business "we will build a healthier economy."

    Historically we have done that before. Right now we are hearing experts say again to "specialize - find your niche" which is what the ma and pa shops did years ago! If you wanted fresh baked bread you went to the baker, fresh meats the butcher. It was simple, you knew what you were getting because that's all they did. They knew their product and treated their customers like royalty.

    Then because of our fast paced world along came one-stop shopping. Everything under one roof. Maybe simple in the fact that it ended the need to go to multiple locations, but not simple in knowing the product or the customer. And to get service is unheard of.

    So it's back to the future for now!

    Taylor, I certainly understand the plight of job seeking. Sometimes we can't see that our future is right in front of us already. It's hard to take that unsure, unsafe step to self-employment. But you have done an excellent job at promoting yourself and finding a much needed niche in social networking - perfect! Thanks for sharing.

    Barbara, you hit a perfect bullseye when you said that professionals need to take control of their career development and jump in. But being the early adapter or Unintentional Entrepreneur, it's hard to blaze a trail if there is no help out there. That's why I see the Self Employed Academy ahead of the pack when it comes to supporting the self employed with the information that will help them right now, not a year or two in the future when there could be yet another market shift! Great insight.

    Again, thanks to you all for posting. And I would love to know from those posting:

    What resources did you use, find or are currently using that have been invaluable for you to succeed in business.

    I'll be checking in! Roberta

  • Graphic Designer, Web Designer 
Snellville, Georgia 
Jessie Nunez
    Posted by Jessie Nunez, Snellville, Georgia | Jul 31, 2009

    I loved this article. In my view everyone is an entrepreneur, intentionally or not:

    When you work for someone else, you are constantly justifying your value to the company as well as defending your work and ideas. You must manage your career as if you were looking out for yourself because in truth, you are.

    Your success at work begins and ends with you. YOU have to learn the unwritten rules. YOU have remind the company of your contributions. YOU have to ask for that raise and promotion. YOU have to figure out who the power elites at your firm are. YOU must have a backup plan if you lose your job. And there are no guarantees.

    I've had to learn many of these things the hard way. My position is: If the onus is all on me, then I might as well work for ME!

  • Marketing Mentor 
Gresham, Oregon 
Roberta MacLaren
    Posted by Roberta MacLaren, Gresham, Oregon | Jul 31, 2009


    Great perspective! You are so right.

    I think we do forget that we are in charge of our career when we work for someone else. We have a tendency to give our power away to the "higher ups" and allow them to call the shots.

    You sound like you have the drive and determination to make the best of what the world is offering you. Here's to your success!

    Thanks for sharing. Roberta

  • Blogging Coach and Copywriter 
Seattle, Washington 
Judy Dunn
    Posted by Judy Dunn, Seattle, Washington | Aug 01, 2009


    Such excellent (and helpful) advice here! The people I truly feel sorry for are the blue collar workers (like my brother, who has been a mill worker all his life). They don't really have the skills (or mindset) to start their own businesses at the age of 50. Looking at the issue very broadly, the kids in these one-industry towns are going to need an education system that helps them identify their strengths (and passions) and then helps them develop a set of skills that can effectively be transferred to more than one type of job, and even, dare I say, a business of their own. FLEXIBILITY and openness to change are going to be key to their survival. But I digress.

    For people who have been "downsized" from professional jobs, what Jessie said is so important. It is the people who were self-motivated as employees, who took responsibility for their own professional growth, those are the ones who are going to be more likely to succeed in their own efforts as entrepreneurs.

    My resources?: A combination of devouring everything I can—from books, the Internet, conversations with smart, talented colleagues—and the rich interactions with clients and prospects, through my blog, biznik, twitter, etc., that help me understand the needs in my market so I can keep changing to meet them.

    Roberta, this is one of the best articles I've seen that addresses these critical issues. Thanks for so generously sharing your wisdom with us.

  • Marketing Mentor 
Gresham, Oregon 
Roberta MacLaren
    Posted by Roberta MacLaren, Gresham, Oregon | Aug 01, 2009

    Judy, Thanks for the post - good to hear from you!

    What I love about this forum concept is how people bring to the table the areas that have importance in their lives. We sometimes forget what life is like outside of our own little world.

    You are so right about the one-industry towns where generations as well as towns depend on that industry to survive. It's a hard concept to get ones head wrapped around, when here, that's not the norm. Thanks for sharing that.

    I have a deep conviction that now is a perfect time to start ones own independent or small business. People /consumers are looking for the experts who know what they are doing, and can appreciate their consumer/client. The buzz words of specialization and customer service mean more to the consumer than ever.

    But I understand your point that not all people who have lost their jobs have the skill set to have that reality.

    Which brings me to the point that the agencies that are in place to help people transition are themselves working in an outdated system. They need to look to people who are already successful in their business to offer mentorship in a new labor industry, or even a small business. That's why I have joined forces with the Self-Employed Academy to offer classes to either new self owned businesses and small business or to those who have been in business for awhile and need to re-evaluate and infuse their business to take it to the next level in todays economy. It's been a great success and makes me feel like I am helping in a bigger picture way.

    Thanks for your post, I look forward to seeing you again soon!