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How to Turn a Career Setback into Something Positive by Starting Your Own Business

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Is there a silver lining to getting fired, laid off, demoted, or passed up for a promotion? It may not seem like it at first, but career setbacks provide one of the best opportunities to start fresh and redefine yourself. Starting a small business is a great way to take your skills and use them in an interesting, refreshing, and often profitable way.

Avoid the traps of failure by jumping into something new

When we fail at something (in this case, our careers), our tendency is to dwell on that failure. This prevents us from moving forward. As Harvard Business Review says, escapism is a common – but useless – coping mechanism. Sure, taking a break to reevaluate your goals is vital, but when we use failure as a reason to take excessively long sabbaticals or turn to unhealthy habits like drinking, overeating, or extreme laziness – we are only making the problem worse. Starting your own business is the perfect way to avoid these pitfalls because it gives you something to work at immediately. There’s no downtime to fall into these traps because you’re working on creating a business from the moment you decide to do it.

Why your own business?

Why not simply look for another job in a similar field or even shift fields entirely following a career setback? Why start your own business?

For one, you are responsible for your own job security. Whether you succeed or fail now rests entirely on you and the work you’re willing to do – it’s not in the hands of a company bureaucracy that makes decisions based on their idea of what’s best for the company. You are the company. For anyone who has been fired, laid off, downsized, demoted, or passed over for a big promotion, the importance of having ultimate control over everything that happens in your business cannot be overstated.

There are plenty of other benefits to running your own small business – from tax breaks to flexibility, and from reinvention to building your own brand. What’s more, you have the added benefit of working from the comforts of your home. However, it’s probably not a good idea to set up shop on the living couch. Instead, find an area (or, better yet, an entire room) where you can set up a small yet functional home office. Naturally, you’ll need to budget for office equipment, supplies, and furniture, but if you’re strapped for cash, you can use items you already have around the house. The most important aspect of your home office is functionality; it should exist in a distraction-free area that will allow you to successfully accomplish your daily tasks.

How to begin the process of starting your own business

The easiest way to determine what kind of business you want to start is to go to your own talent and experience well. What skills do you possess? What can you offer your community that nobody else can? What are you an expert in? Small businesses can provide goods or they can provide services. The latter means that you can sell yourself – businesses like consulting, law practice, design, and writing/editing fit this style. If you’re starting with limited funds, you may need to think of a business that has low overhead and inventory costs. Becoming a real estate agent and opening up your own real estate business is still one of the best small business ideas out there, for example.

Once you’ve figured out what kind of business you want to start in a general sense, it’s time to get specific. You need to know how to create a proper business plan that will not only state your business but also spell out exactly how you plan to accomplish specific goals and what you need to do at every stage to make your dreams a reality. Check here for tips on writing a great business plan.

In a way, a career setback prepares you for starting a small business in a way other life experiences can’t. Starting a new business is scary, but what do you have to fear now? You’ve already experienced hardship in your professional life. Now is the time to turn that hardship into something bigger and better than you had before.

Larry Mager is my guest blogger. After being laid off from a teaching job several years ago, Larry felt pretty low. He’d lost a job he loved and didn’t know what he was going to do next. Fast forward two years later and he’s running his own tutoring business and making progress with his mental fitness website,

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