The key to getting out of any hole is realizing that you haven't just fallen; you've fallen into something. In fact, if there were such a thing as an opportunity index, it would stand at about 7.5 out of 10 now, says Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneur and author of The Art of the Start and Reality Check. Despite the recession, he claims it's a better-than-average time to be entrepreneurial and pursue your dreams. Not only is there less 'noise' in the marketplace because of fewer competitors, but resources are relatively inexpensive. Plus, if you've recently been downsized, you have time to develop your idea and perhaps even a bit of severance money to help fund it.
'Successful entrepreneurs generally ignore the numbers the government puts out on economic growth and unemployment,' says Kawasaki. 'I'm not advocating sticking your head in the sand, but what do those numbers really have to do with you? Listen to the reports, know the landscape, plug your ears, and go on ahead.' Ready to get started?
The Dream: Opening a business
The Scheme: The biggest challenge here is consumers' current hesitancy to spend. If they were more willing to spend, the opportunity index would be closer to 10. But even in a choosy environment, Kawasaki says, there's always room for better and best. 'In times like these, people cut back on the frivolous, and there's a flight to quality.' And while it's important to have a business plan, he advocates crafting a business mantra too. In addition to the product or service you're providing, think about what kind of meaning you're making. Having a true mission in your mission statement is another way to rise above the competition.
The Dream: Selling an idea
The Scheme: Maybe you can't risk opening your own business but have an idea for one you'd like to develop and market to someone else. How do you get attention in this economy? 'Choose a name with verb potential,' says Kawasaki. For an example, look no further than Google. A name that connotes action and is a little quirky has a better chance of being remembered. Test your name in this sentence: '_____ it.'
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The Dream: Going back to school
The Scheme: If you're out of work, invest in your future by expanding your existing skills or acquiring new ones. The value of knowledge has never been higher. Community colleges and online courses abound, and the Lifetime Learning Credit entitles anyone below a certain income who is taking classes (for a degree or not) to a tax credit of 20 percent on the first $10,000 of expenses.
The Dream: Giving something back
The Scheme: When times get tough, write your obituary. You heard us. Sit down, think hard, and list three things you want people to remember you for. This will help prioritize your life. Then find ways to follow through on your goals. If you can't contribute money to charity, give time. A bonus is that volunteering is a great way to network. You'll meet new people with new ideas, plus the effort will freshen your spirit.
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