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Has Your Business Failed? What Can You Learn From The Struggle of Self-employment in a Recession

Updated on October 2, 2012

These are recessionary times, really quite strange and scary times in many ways. Perhaps you had already noticed? The economy seems volatile and fragile simultaneously, unemployment is sometimes, according to the media, dropping, sometimes rising. (And yet the experiences of friends, acquaintances and relatives never seem to suggest that it does anything other than rise, whatever the statistics say). Economic disaster, personal as well as public, seems to threaten on the horizon.

One option that many people seem to be either taking up or considering is self-employment, as a response to unemployment or under-employment. If you have a skill, useful experience, some capital or a trade or profession, you may be considering it too!

It's an option that takes a good deal of courage and self-reliance, and can involve a steep and daunting learning curve. Taken as a macroscopic contribution to the economy, it is quite impressive in its contribution, and provides much employment as well as income for the self-employed. And yet, it is no more risk-free than most other career options. You can become self-employed, sure... but you can't guarantee success in doing it. Failure is a calculated risk, if you choose to take that step.

If you decide to take that leap into starting your own business, microbusiness, minibusiness, whatever, then it may fly and soar, struggle and limp along, or sink like a rock in the ocean. What do you do if the outcome is the last one? Are there things you can still learn from a failed business venture?

Well, I guess you can probably learn persistence, and not giving up just because you've hit some choppy waters. Speaking as one who has pushed and struggled to make self-employment a gainfully (self) employed going concern, I certainly haven't given up yet and still press on in my desire to make a living without a job (and without struggling to get up in the morning, tolerate colleagues and make rent at the end of the month.)

What about the actual skills you pick up from self-employment or running your own business? Certainly it's hard to spend much time as a self-employed person without picking up some basic book-keeping skills and comprehension of the paperwork-type requirements of running a business, even if you hire an accountant or book-keeper. These may even be useful in getting yourself a regular job should your business or period of self-employment not work out as you might wish. Get it out there on to your c.v.!

Other skills naturally acquired in the course of doing business may depend on the type of business you choose. People skills, food prep, negotiation, drawing up contracts, dealing with pets, kids, old people and different social groupings – all these and more may constitute part of your business set-up and running skill-set. If you look at your life in full, no experience is really wasted – and if self-employment isn't destined to be a route you travel for long, don't let the experience and knowledge you pick up along the way go to waste. Turn it to your advantage, learn all you can and get out there making the most of everything you have to offer!


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