The Great Recession of the United States has resulted in more than 8 million people losing their jobs. There once was a time when if you got laid off from your job, you picked up a bootleg copy of Photoshop and became a web designer. But as far as I can tell, 97.3% of the people who have lost their jobs in this recession have emerged in social media as something like expert consultants. In any case, speaking as someone who has run a small business for nearly a decade, here are a few tips for all of you newly christened recessionary entrepreneurs:
1. Have a Plan B. Let’s face it, the only reason you’re even messing around in social media is because it seems like the thing you’re supposed to do right now. Sure, you know how to post tweets and update your Facebook status, but really, what else have you got? When things don’t go as you want them to in this space, and they won’t, you’re going to need a backup plan. Many opt to continue looking for a “real” job with a “real” company while they launch their startups and collect unemployment. It’s a good strategy for most people.
2. Get on LinkedIn. If you want to connect like they used to do at Chamber of Commerce functions back in the day, get on LinkedIn, polish your profile and get active in groups. Don’t even mess around with Twitter. It’s addictive and pulls you down into places that are hard to escape. Sure, you can do some networking on Twitter, but mostly you’re going to end up trying to sell people on your business — and they’re going to laugh at you.
3. Prepare for failure. Fifty percent of all new small businesses fail within the first year. That number jumps to 95% over the first five years. It’s a fact; deal with it. When you’re prepared to stumble, you stumble less. Write that down.
4. Don’t go looking for free or reduced pricing on branding, content or design services just because you’re a startup. Would you drive to the Bank of America headquarters, take the elevator up to an arbitrary floor and ask someone in a random cubicle to do your landscaping? Do your homework. Develop a plan. Know the market. Know rates. Be realistic about everything. Some of us are actually committed to our professions as small-business entrepreneurs and don’t have the resources to directly invest in your endeavor.
5. Grow rhino skin. You may well have the best idea on the planet, but you’ll never know if you don’t try to sink it. Before you share anything with the world, walk around your idea with a sledgehammer and beat the hell out of it. Then invite others to do the same. Entrepreneurship is no place for people with onion skin.
Credit to “Jim Mitchem” from Advertising Age.