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Harness that 'new' feeling

| Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The beginning of a new year is traditionally considered a good time to transition into a new job or begin a new business. If you've been nursing thoughts of starting your own business — a consulting firm, a franchise, a small business — the energy of a new year can help catapult you to success.

Admittedly, it may seem daunting to become self-employed, and you might need more time and preparation than others who start a business. Self-employment is just too risky, you may be thinking. Here's the reality: Being self-employed is often a lot safer than working for an employer.

Business start-up coach Tom Volkar of CoreU says, “So many outside, uncontrollable factors contribute to the health of your employing company. The only thing you can truly count on is that things will change.”

So, if you are considering self-employment, address your fears. Once you know what is holding you back, you can figure out how to overcome it.

Last month, one of my clients who lost her job earlier in the year was considering the leap into self-employment. She had a lot of fears, mostly financial, but she knew she could capitalize on having lots of contacts and being well-respected in her industry. By recognizing that her contacts and reputation would vault her to success, she was able to move forward. Within weeks of firmly deciding to establish a consulting practice, she secured a six-month contract. Wisely, she is simultaneously marketing her consulting capabilities to others, which will create a pipeline of additional clients to carry her through 2014.

Volkar suggests, “Ask yourself this: What if my fear of a lack of job security is really a sign that this is my time to choose the freedom of self-employment? If that question rings true for you, then act now. You will benefit from your wise proactivity.”

One of Volkar's clients, a software rep, feared that her company's new owners would fire her or change her duties. Seeing the writing on the wall, she hired Volkar to help her set the structures she would need to go into business for herself. Just 60 days into the coaching, her employer let her go. Because of her preparation, she landed squarely on her feet. She had clients of her own within a week of starting her own firm.

If self-employment is one of your 2014 goals, Volkar suggests a few principles to move forward:

• You're more ready to start a business than you think you are, because what you think is stopping you is a much smaller obstacle than you think it is.

• The marketplace rewards rare, authentic expression. Do not compromise. Instead, follow your unique makeup by starting a business that is developed in the way that only you can.

• It's not enough to start a business doing what you love; you must give your clients what they need by offering it how they want it.

According to Volkar, “Anyone who considers the upside of self-employment will realize that the freedom of self-employment can actually be synonymous with security.”

If that sentence resonates with you, I think you know what you need to do.

Chris Posti is president of Posti & Associates in Pittsburgh. Email questions to her at chris@postiinc.com.

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