Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Reluctant Entrepreneur

In an op-ed column today for the New York Times, Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, writes that many of the new entrepreneurs are really 'self-employed', that is, they want a job but the market has forced them into temporary free-lance serfdom.

He uses the example of George, an aquaintance who lost his job as associate partner at a technology and consulting company - probably a company like EDS or IBM Consulting. George sounds like he is in his mid- to late- career. George is self-employed, doing "exactly what he used to do, for less money, and no benefits - no health care, no 401(k) match, no sick leave, no paid vacation."

My brother Bryan is in much the same situation. Bryan is a mid-career creative Art Director. Good agency experience, great portfolio. Having a devil of a time catching back on in Texas. He too is doing free-lance work work less than he did before.

So what can we draw from this - what if we are a reluctant entrepreneur?

First, there is no easy answer and I will refrain from platitudes about 'keeping your chin up'.

If you have one client who is paying you, can you get a second? Is there any way to carve out a few hours a week to call on a second prospective client? Can you partner with another person slogging away just as you?

Leverage your experience to allow you to do more work in less time, so you can get a second and third client paying you at the same time. You have to free some excess labor from the contract. They are paying you to complete some objective, not piece work.

Not at all easy, but the only way to get yourself back into some control or the feeling of control.

And, if you need a crackerjack creative marketing guy - let me know. I will get you in touch with Bryan.

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