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How to Leverage Your Lay Off for a New Entrepreneurial Life

Unexpected job loss? Partner within your community and leverage the like-minded people in your small business community who can offer the support, and services that are mutually beneficial.

Leverage an unexpected job loss into an opportunity

Being laid off might feel like the end of your professional life—but it can actually represent the opportunity to start anew, as your own boss. Learn how these entrepreneurs turned an unexpected job loss into an opportunity to start their own business, and the choices they most credit to their success.

Invest in what you need the most. Shiloh Branigan turned her hobby into a business, called Amarillo Brewing Supply, following a layoff from her position as an audiology technician. By leveraging about $10,000 of her personal savings to fund initial inventory needs and the businesses’ first month’s rent, she was able to realize a profit in her first year by carefully monitoring inventory, experimenting with and measuring the most effective ways of advertising to target audiences, and prioritizing where she spent her money. For example, though Branigan says finding a good accountant was a “must have” she sacrificed in other areas to offset the cost. “We got by our first year on an old fashioned cash register. I really like having the point of sale system to track our inventory, but if you know what sells and how much of something to reorder, a $50 dollar cash register is just as effective.”

Take the steps to make your business unique. When Anjie Cho was laid off from her job at an architecture firm and struggled to find a replacement role, she decided to start her own architecture/interior design business. Recognizing the need to set herself apart in the industry, she joined a three year feng shui program to add more breadth and depth to her work. In the interim, she and her husband sacrificed expenses in their personal life (like eliminating cable TV, and eating out). Cho also took on side projects working for other designers to generate income and make “inroads” for her new business. She also credits separating the “nice to haves” from the “musts” in her business model to her ability to succeed on a shoestring budget. “I eliminated the cost of outside office space because I go to my clients for meetings. I established a Google voice phone number (it’s free!), and used my cell phone to return calls so there was no extra phone bill. I used freelancers I found online for additional support needs, and handled other business functions like (accounting, invoicing/billing, marketing, and production) myself,” says Cho. When you’re wearing many hats, take advantage of affordable tech tools that support your success. For $30 a month, for example, the cloud-based accounting system Xero syncs with hundreds of other business apps making it efficient to manage invoicing, account reconciliation, expense tracking, purchase orders and payroll from anywhere.

Partner with your community. Leverage the like-minded people in your small business community who can offer the support, and services that are mutually beneficial. (Their moral and emotional support won’t hurt either)! When Debbie Quintana was laid off from her role as a global security manager at Cisco, she decided she wanted to combine her three professional talents and passions (security, small business and marketing) into her own company, that would become her new full time job. She says her business, QT Concepts, has been a great success in large part due to a unique business model that leverages the small business community. “I have one contract operations manager and then six contractors – all of which own their own company in the area of expertise of which I’ve hired them. For example, I hired Juliette Rys who owns Rys Creative Arts. She handles website and graphic design. I have another resource that handles social networking, and owns her own social networking business she contracts to mine,” explains Quintana.

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