Posts Tagged ‘self-employment’

It’s now been four years since I returned from my travels, ready to start the next phase of creating a life that was more attuned to what I had envisioned. The idea was to get work and put some money together to start a business. I had many ideas that came out of interests, travels, moves, situation and opportunities that I saw. Most weren`t micro-level enough so I also thought about additional training – old thoughts about landscape architecture, thoughts that aligned with recurring interests in recreation and leisure, and newer thoughts like food or massage therapy. My job search has been ongoing, but, it has been a four-year waste of time. A year and a half ago I finally did get work – a two day a week retail job. That ended before Christmas, just after I had managed to get a seasonal job.

Last summer, I decided to start researching a couple of my business ideas so I`d have some pieces in place in the event I am ever able to act. While doing so I stumbled upon the idea of making natural soap and related products. Finally, a business that could start at a micro level, had potential for a sustainable livelihood and blended values and interests. I was excited! I would finally be able to “do/act”. I`ve learned a lot but most of my efforts have centred on research rather than development. It`s frustrating. My part-time work didn’t provide much in the way of a disposable income.  It took nine months to gather the very basic equipment and supplies I needed to start experimenting. It`s taking a long time to move forward and get a micro-level business off the ground.

I now have an employment insurance claim and I’m eligible for a self-employment benefit program. I went to chat with an employment counsellor about SEBP a while back and found out that you need $4442 in cash or kind to be eligible for this program. I signed up for the info session, which was held last week.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to develop a business plan and start a small or micro business. It provides workshops, access to advisors, networking and provides EI benefits for 42 weeks. I would like to participate in this program but I don’t have $4442. I’m not sure what annoys me more – the fact that at 52 years of age I don’t have this relatively insignificant asset base or that the Ontario government puts this financial barrier in place.

My other potential option is to go back to school for retraining via the Second Career initiative. I’ve been investigating this over the last month or so as well. The training has to be in a field in which there are full-time jobs, i.e., trades, social services, health, and not more than two years. I`ve looked at it from different angles – what`s available at less than a year, what`s something I can get work at regardless of where I live, what programs would I have taken a few years ago and are they still feasible, what will complement the business I`m trying to develop, what will offer skills or knowledge that I could turn into another business, what will put me back in the job market doing something that I like, what`s still open, what`s missing from the college programs, undergraduate degree and experiences I already have. I`ve explored a number of programs and am going to talk to someone at the college in a few days about the recreation and leisure studies program. I`m holding off hitting the Ontario colleges send transcripts and apply/pay processing fees button till then.

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Self-employment is something that I’ve always been attracted to and I thought I would look at some of the workshops and supports that are available for people who venture along this route.

Last month I attended a pre-self-employment workshop at Pinecrest-Queensway Employment Centre. The ever dynamic facilitator, Kari Drouin, started things off by asking participants to introduce themselves and make their pitch. Some of the people are close to launching a business, some are naturally drawn to it, and others are exploring the option. The presentation also covered the benefits and demands of self-employment, assessing whether you have what it takes, researching your idea and market viability, and resources for people who decide to go this route. As always, it was a useful, informative and stimulating workshop.

One of the local resources is the OCRI Entrepreneurship Centre. I had heard about the centre while at the Art of the Start presentations a few days earlier. “The Centre aims to promote Ottawa’s economy, through the development of products and services that encourage entrepreneurship and support business growth.” They provide workshops, seminars, consultations and a variety of information resources. Earlier this week I checked out two of their free seminars.

The first was on presenting yourself and the seven seconds you have to make a positive first impression. According to Julie Blas Comeau of Etiquette Julie the top five keys to making a good impression are your punctuality, posture, eye-contact, smile, and handshake. She also provided tips about greetings and remembering names. One of her slides noted Mehrabian’s rule of face-to-face communication – I’ve come across this before at Toastmasters and in books but wasn’t familiar with who’s rule it was – which is that 55% of communication is non-verbal, 38% is verbal, and 7% is vocal. In other words, people react mostly to your body language, then your tonal variety, and leastly to what you actually say.

The second seminar was on preparing proposals and was presented by Keith Parker of The Proposal Centre. The presentation was intended for small and mid-sized businesses who bid on work; however, in my job search I’ve come across the occasional ad which asks for an RFP so I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn more about what a proposal is. According to Keith, it’s a blend of art and science in which you have to identify the right opportunities, know when to make or not make a bid, address the questions, make your proposal compelling, and deliver it on time.

The latent entrepreneur in me found the seminars quite interesting. The Centre is definitely an excellent resource. There are also a wide variety of social groups around that provide entrepreneurs with an opportuntiy to connect, network, share ideas, get advice and other supports to help along the self-employed path.

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