The last few years have been tough for small business owners trying to squeeze out a living. Some are now realizing that they really don't have a business, but instead just a very risky job.
Business strategist, Carol Roth calls this a "job-business." Of the 21 million small businesses in America, she says 60 percent never earn a profit in the life of the business.
In these companies, the owner is the business, which means no vacation and no selling the company for retirement. While this may be acceptable to some, it really should not be.
“It doesn’t justify the risk of giving up a salary plus investing your own money,” says Roth. “Would you risk a $50,000 salary plus $40,000 of your savings for the chance to earn $55,000 a year?” Unfortunately, this is exactly what some business owners are doing.
If both finances and passion are running low, it may be time to make a change. It may be time to simply close your company and find a job in 2012 that better fits your lifestyle and financial profile.
However, the landscape where you can hunt for job these days has radically changed. Job seekers used to develop an impressive resume with an equally assertive cover letter to get the position they wanted. After the recession, as fewer jobs have become available, the process has changed. In fact, the time it takes to find a job is actually twice as long as it has been at any time in the last 50 years.
Liz Ryan, a former Fortune 500 human resource executive and now a leading career and workplace authority, says that the strategy needs to shift. People have to be in charge of their careers.
“The whole seat of control for the management and direction of the rest of the career has shifted from employers to employees. Thank goodness, because the employers...cannot be trusted with it,” Ryan says in interview. “ It would not be safe to put your investment in their hands.”
This is critical because many work opportunities are no longer full-time jobs, but instead are projects and assignments as employers try to keep costs variable. Ryan says this has changed the mindset of every employee.
“It isn’t, ‘Oh, I’m going to get a job, thank goodness! Phew! I got the job! I’m good for a while!’ No. We can’t rely on that. We have no idea how long that opportunity or that need on the part of our employer is going to persist.”
Ryan maintains that personal branding in 2012 is the key, because individuals are no longer tied to the reputation of our employers.
“[It's not] a cheesy sort of trumpeting my fabulousness type of endeavor...or a matter of putting some adjectives around our name or our resume,” says Ryan. “It’s really figuring out how we’re going to be able to make a difference for somebody who’s in a position to pay us. “
Accumulated professional skills now actually take a backseat to personal branding linked to solving a persistent problem for your prospective employer.
Ryan suggests the “pain letter.” It’s critical to talk about the employer's pain, not your years of experience. She describes it as a cover letter that says more than "here is my resume, because no one cares about that any longer." As a prospective employee, you need to connect the dots for why the employer should hire you.
Here’s an example of the pain letter written by James to the VP of marketing at a company where he wants to work.
I was lucky enough to catch less than 10 minutes of your talk at the Metro Chambers Small Business Expo. I couldn’t agree more with your observation that oil is key to the industry. I imagine, given your new distribution deal with Wolfgang Puck’s organization, that your talented marketing team is right up against the wall.
When I was in Angry Chocolates just before its acquisition by Nestle, we were under the gun to launch our edible nail-polish line in time for Chocoholic Expo ’07, and we prevailed. If any of these things are high enough on your radar screen to warrant a conversation, I’m here.
This shows the hiring manager someone that has a high level of confidence in making a difference instead of being a needy job seeker.
Is it time to get a job in 2012? If so, what is your personal brand and how does it solve the pain of a perspective employer?