Job Options if You Are/Were a Shutdown Impacted Federal Employee or Retail Worker

If you were one of the 800,000 Federal workers involved in the recent, and maybe continuing partial government shutdown or are a former Sears or K-Mart employee and have lost your job, you are joining tens of thousands of retail workers who have been impacted by changes in consumer shopping habits, on-line retailing and the availability of lower costs goods and services offered from foreign companies. Although of little consolation to you, you are not alone. Just a few months ago Toys-R-Us shut down all of their North American Stores and dismissed 10,000 workers. This trend is expected to continue as more retail outlets vanish from American cities.

Say you were already tripling-up to live in an outrageously priced studio apartment in San Francisco, L.A., New York or Seattle, how are you going to come up with your share of next month’s rent?

Start your own businesses to raise money as and when you need it.

The concept of starting a business may be strange to you, but it should not be. Each time you have ever sold anything to anyone else or collected money for mowing a lawn or taking care of someone’s child or pet, you have engaged in a business transaction. Declaring a business and running it is only doing the same sort of thing on a regular basis for a set fee. Being paid for services, things you sell or for knowledge is money received from a business transaction and spends just like that received from a paycheck – except that you determine the frequency and amount that you get paid.

How do I know what business to start when?

Selecting an appropriate type of business at whatever stage you are in your life to accomplish immediate and long-term goals is what I discussed in my new book, Create Your Own Job Security: Plan to Start Your Own Business at Midlife. In this book I advocate starting a series of businesses throughout your life to do what you need to do at the moment, say raise cash for the rent, while you plan to get the degrees, certifications, etc. that you need to become an independent trade or professional business owner. Ultimately you can discover a business that you love so much that you would do the work even if no one paid you a cent. This “business of passion” may not be what you think of immediately, but you can discover, maybe over some decades, how to make money at it and let that business become your older-age business to carry you through the remainder of your life.

Now you can raise some money by selling some things that you own that you will no longer use. Yes those items are neat, were nice to own; but you really don’t have to have them to survive. Instead of taking them to a pawn shop, set up an account and sell them on E-bay. If you had a childhood collection of something, now is likely the time to sell it off. Become a world-class expert in that class of object and E-bay selling that can be part of your building an on-line business.

Things not to do are to pile up credit card debt or go to pay-day lenders or lawn sharks. If you must borrow, try to do it from family to help get you over a hard month or two, but keep thinking about ways that you can make some money on your own by investing in yourself.

This may be through some training that is offered as part of your severance package. This company training will be most often focused on your finding another job rather than starting your own company. Some companies will also offer an hour or so of mental health support which is useful in helping to understand the psychological trauma that you are going through.

Losing a job is more than losing a paycheck. It is breaking relationships that you may have developed over decades. These relationships are not only with your former bosses and coworkers it is also with the customer contacts that you developed. The result is like having a close relative unexpectedly pass away. There will be grief, questionings as to what degree do you bare personal responsibility for the business failing and the feeling of being thrown out of your own home by a parent. No wonder that you can’t think of any good business opportunities at the moment.

This is where the planning part of my book’s sub-title comes in. I advocate that you plan and actually start your business while you are still working. This way while you are working you have your business already going, it is generating a small amount of income, and should you become unemployed you only need to energize your fledgling business to the level of profitability that you can live on.

What might such businesses be?

Selling product and customer service are the two aspects of retail trade. Which are you most adept at? Perhaps you are more interested in the people who come to you for recommendations on what product to buy, than the details of the product itself. If so, you may have some undeveloped tendencies to be a personal consultant to help people get over some of life’s adverse experiences, such as working as an insurance adjuster. This type of job pays well, but requires directed training which is often given by the insurance company. What you must bring to the table is a good grasp of basic math, the willingness to make informed decisions based on evidence and, most of all, a willingness to strictly follow company policy. Ultimately each claim will be examined, and if yours are too much outside of the norm, you will be reprimanded.

On the other hand if you had more of a mechanical interest in what you were selling than in the people who might be buying what was in your department, perhaps you are the same sort of guy who likes to invent things. Maybe you want to build a forge and make custom knives, like I do. Maybe your concept is of such practical use that you will file for a U.S. Patent. Making the product and selling it can be your new business. I also explain how to do a U.S. patent applications and secure copyrights and trademarks in Create Your Own Job Security.

Retail sales also have aspects of marketing and advertising. Maybe you were one of these folks. There is always demand for people who can write good ad copy, come up with advertising themes and derive novel ways to attract the public’s attention. The transition to one’s own company could be to set up an ad agency and gather your own clients who might be in a similar industry or something altogether different. Or, it might be to write that novel, book or play that has been stewing in your mind for years, that you never put on paper.

Advertising your business

YouTube videos are a practical way to promote an advertising firm or any other creative activity. No other media allows you to have a world-wide reach, say exactly what you want, cost almost no money to produce and stays up forever. Every creative person should have their own YouTube channel featuring the products, how they are made, there significance to the world and aggressively market themselves on this media. I do as I say, and I have over 700 YouTube videos up at the moment with about 4,000,000 hits and 5,000 followers. As you are likely much younger than I am and more in-tune with the present generation, you can do much better that me.

Overcoming the fear of failure

There is no reward without accepting some degree of risk. Your immediate task is to discover a legal business enterprise that will return a maximum amount of income with minimal risks. Some things may fail because of changing fashion trends, adverse legislation, unforeseeable price hikes in raw materials or technological changes that may be completely out of your control. Prepare to be flexible and be able to alter the course of your business to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.

“There is nothing in human experience that cannot be turned into profit by an inventive mind.” This is a Hoveyism that I have derived from personal experience. If you look, opportunities are there. You may have to move to another city to get pay-check work, but if you develop an on-line business you can conduct a million or billion dollar business from anywhere in the world. Maybe some ideas will not pan out or develop as fast as you hoped. In that case put those on the back burner for more development and try something else.

Being in and staying in the game will bring more opportunities, some of which will be completely unexpected, and you learn from each failure and build on that failure towards your ultimate success. There is no shame in the business world in having tried and failed at a business venture. There is shame in having a good idea and having someone else develop that idea before you did. Yes, you could have done that; but fact is that you didn’t and someone else did.

Act and act now.

“Ideas without action have no value.” I have used this statement many times in my business presentations because it is absolutely true. If you can’t or don’t act, then you are opening yourself up to responding to chance happenings that will control your life, rather than you running it. As conditions become more financially stressful, you may be forced into doing actions that you would never have considered before and will regret forever.

A better option is to start building opportunity for yourself by thinking about, investigating and starting your own businesses, even in a small way, rather than being bounced around like a tennis ball being hit back and forth by the pressures of life.

Author's Bio: 

Wm. Hovey Smith is a registered Professional Geologist in Georgia. He is also a member of several writers’ organizations including the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) and the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association (GOWA). He is the author of 18 books with his most recent title being “Create Your Own Job Security: Plan To Start Your Own Business at Midlife." He has also given lectures on environmental and business topics in the U.S., Europe and China.