The Boss of Me
Eight Things to Factor in When Considering Self-Employment
by Tom Wolfe, Career Coach and Contributing Editor
Although your management expertise may be impressive in the areas of personnel, administration and material resources, you probably have little or no direct business management experience. You’re used to the bottom line called “readiness” or “war fighting,” but you will succeed or fail in business based on a bottom line called “profit?” Do you know how to write a business plan, specifically one that will pass muster with a lending officer or a franchisor? Have you taken an accounting course? You may need professional guidance from accountants and lawyers. Are those fees in your budget?
How much will you make? When you work for yourself, you pay yourself last. Pay your overhead, service your debt, pay your employees, and give the federal, state, and local government their shares, and you get anything that remains.
Considering all of the above, why do people choose self-employment? Independence, self-determination, the lifestyle associated with picking where you want to live or perhaps working out of your home, the possibility of earning a living by doing something about which you are passionate - these are just a few of the reasons. In addition to weighing these pluses and minuses, you should also consider your current status - back to the Army Major I mentioned earlier.
He will soon retire with 22 years of service and receive a monthly pension. He and his wife are empty nesters now that their two children are no longer living at home. She has a degree in accounting and has worked outside the home throughout his career, mostly in retail sales and as an accounts payable/receivable clerk. Other than a small credit card balance and a car loan, they are debt-free. They have been able to save some money and maintain an excellent credit rating. In addition to being a self-proclaimed “motor head,” he spent most of his career, both enlisted and officer time, in vehicle maintenance. This supports his interest in either opening a truck maintenance facility or becoming a franchisee for Jiffy Lube, Express Lube or AAMCO. His situation appears perfect for the self-employment option. How does yours compare?
Although I dedicate a chapter of my book, Out of Uniform, to this subject, I recommend you gather additional information and guidance as well. In addition to the resources I have listed below, do yourself a favor - get out in the field and talk to franchise operators, especially those who also happen to be veterans. Where to start? That’s easy - just take a look at the companies that are featured or that advertise in this issue of MTN. They already understand veterans and their circumstances.
-The Small Business Administration: www.sba.gov
-Franchise America: www.franchise-america.com
-International Franchise Association: www.franchise.org
-American Association of Home-Based Businesses: www.allbusiness.com
-USA Home Business: www.usahomebusiness.com
-Home Based Business.com: www.home-based-business.com
-Small Time Operator: How to Start Your Own Business, Keep Your Books, Pay Your Taxes, and Stay Out of Trouble (paperback, 13th edition), by Bernard B. Kamoroff
Tom Wolfe is the author of Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition (www.out-of-uniform.com).
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