This economic revival is like a slow train chugging up a steep mountain—with a heavy load and too many conductors. As politicians bicker over how to get the world economy moving again, job seekers are struggling, waiting for good news.
Some job seekers, anyhow. Others are proactively creating their own jobs. Last year, Americans started their own businesses at the highest rate in 15 years, Inc. Magazine reported, based on data from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
So if you’re out of work, and your prospects aren’t looking much better than they did a few months ago, stop waiting.
Stop waiting for someone else to get up the guts to spend the money to hire you. Instead, look for a way to hire yourself.
Here are five ways to get on the path to creating your own job:
Start an entrepreneurial group among friends
Do you meet with an accountability group every week? A group of close friends with a mind for new ideas? Plan a weekly meet-up at a coffee house and start brainstorming the beginnings of a new company. Pick a new idea each week and see if it starts to grow on you. If it does, start assigning responsibilities. Week by week, your team will see the project come together.
Pick one passion and one natural skill
If you’re more of the “solopreneur” type (you like to work by yourself), combine a passion and a natural talent, and see what business ideas come from it. For you it might be music (passion) and social media marketing (talent). Or wine (passion) and new product development (talent). Once you have a few combinations, start writing a mini business plan. What will you sell? Who are your target customers? And how is your product different from those already on the market?
Join a local meet-up group or attend an entrepreneur conference in your area
The point is to get around people who have a passion and desire to get started. You’ll also connect with people who’ve paved the road for you, who can share mistakes, good practices, and resources. You’ll get help with ideas, motivation, and practical steps you can take to begin moving toward becoming your own boss.
Start a group of your own to attract other entrepreneurs
While it’s great to become involved in projects started by smart people around you, one of the ways you build influence in your community is by taking the lead. Because you started it, you get the credit—even if that’s not your objective. You’re seen as a leader from day one simply by taking initiative. You can start a group today on Meetup.com or LinkedIn and call it, for example, “Entrepreneurs of (Your City)”.
Target start-up companies for contract or part-time work
This hybrid idea will keep you looking for work (and income) but also expose you to the real world of being an entrepreneur. You can help create a new company as you look to establish a habit of your own. Perhaps you come in as an intern for a few months, and in the wee hours during a new product launch, you get to bend the ear of the owner and learn how she got started.
Even if you get a job offer in a few weeks or months, one that pulls you away from your own project, you’ve still planted the seeds for long-term stability in your career.
And by working to start a new idea, you stay busy, meet new friends, and keep your mind challenged along the way.
Tim Tyrell-Smith is founder of Tim's Strategy, a site that helps professionals succeed in job search, career and life strategy. Follow Tim on Twitter, @TimsStrategy, and share his 30 Ideas Book with job-seeking friends.