In 2008, as the recession deepened, the store I had managed for 15 years went bankrupt. My husband and I had four kids to support, including two in college and a high school senior who had his heart set on attending a small liberal arts college (read “expensive”) just like his big sisters.
The owner of the store suggested I go into business for myself, but I didn’t take the advice well. “I’m unemployed and I have a family to feed,” I said bleakly as I helped dismantle shelves and close the store.
As weeks of unemployment stretched into months, I collected and refused job offers at salaries I couldn’t afford to take, in industries that didn’t sound like fun. More people told me I should go into business for myself, but I said, “I don’t have the temperament for that. I want security.” I resigned myself to the idea that I would have to take a job I didn’t want.
Finally, my youngest son said, “You’ve done everything for us all our lives. You should do what’s best for you.” I still find it touching to think of that.
With the support of my family, I took the plunge and went into business for myself.
This year, our fourth kid graduated from the college of his choice. He has a dream job waiting for him in the family business — after he takes the summer off to play with a rock band. The high school senior from 2008 is in graduate school now, about 850 miles away. We’re going to visit him next week — and I can do that, because I’m the boss. If I want to work from a hotel room, I can, and so can my daughter who is now my business partner.
In fact, since I started working for myself, I’ve been to popular vacation spots like Florida and Rome, as well as interesting cities in neighboring states. Tax deductible “working vacations” are a regular part of my life.
I can spend more time with my kids and with my aging parents, take my work out onto the patio, or enjoy a long lunch with an interesting business connection. My husband is proud to tell his friends that I’m a business owner, and our kids know that they have the option of working in the family business if they want to. I earn more than I ever did working for other people, and I love the work I do. I actually feel more secure because I know that my future depends on me.
Of course, owning a business isn’t just about improving the quality of your life. I’m pleased to be able to create jobs for others, to do my part to build the economy back up, and to provide valuable services for my community.
Certainly I work hard, but it’s satisfying to work hard building something bigger than myself — something that will be part of the future of my community.
Fewer Americans are starting businesses now, according to Census figures. The Washington Post says that’s a good thing. During the recession, a lot of laid-off workers like me started businesses. Now, the Post says, “more entrepreneurs appear to be taking the leap because they want to, not because they have to.”
I might never have become a business owner if I hadn’t lost my job, but I’m sure glad I did. Have you thought seriously about owning your own business? Franchise business opportunities let you take the plunge with less risk and more support. A great franchise will help you through the start up stage and let you skip a lot of trial and error.
It’s a great time to go into business for yourself.