The Safest Way to Start Your Own Business

Barnaby Kalan

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Many people are frustrated by their current full-time jobs, but hesitate to take that first step toward independence out of fear.

When you’re used to a steady paycheck from a regular job, and have family and other financial obligations, stepping out of your comfort zone just seems too risky – no matter how miserable you are with your current situation.

Your employer, however, could be your ticket to a successful freelance business. When I started my freelance copywriting practice 10 years ago, I negotiated a contract with my employer – a large advertising agency – for 50 percent of my time for the first year. This gave me the springboard I needed to go out and find other clients, while covering enough of my monthly expenses to take the fear out of starting my own business.

You’re probably wondering… “Why on earth would my employer agree to sign a contract for half my time?" There are a number of reasons, and they can result in a “win-win" situation for both of you.

If you’re on good terms with your employer, chances are they don’t want to lose you. It’s tough to find new staff these days. It takes time to train them and wait until they’re familiar enough with the agency’s style and processes to finally become productive.

Even if they decide to replace you, it can take months to gather resumes, interview candidates and hire the right person. During that time you can be performing job functions from your home office, perhaps even training your replacement, and providing your employer with an easier transition to the new employee and minimizing business disruption.

If you are not on good terms with your employer or boss, or if they’re thinking of eliminating your position, or if the company is downsizing, merging, or being bought out, you can help them avoid the unpleasantness (and cost) of firing you. You are actually doing them a favor by restructuring this in the form of a contract for services that can be “stretched out" for a period of time.

Frankly, if an employer has to choose between letting you go and paying severance and benefits, versus signing a contract for a period of time and getting tangible work and services in return, which do you think they’d prefer? The funds for your contract may even be allocated from a different budget category, making it more affordable for them.

There’s one more reason your employer may opt for a contract: your knowledge. You are already familiar with your company, its clients and services. You’re able to provide the services they need and you understand what has to be done.

It can be a win-win situation. Many creative people have used this logic in approaching their bosses to negotiate their first contract and go out on their own.

If you are really interested in starting your own business as a freelancer or independent consultant, or even thinking of changing directions with your work life, your current job can provide the security you need in your first year to get started on your dream.

Barnaby Kalan is an independent copywriter and consultant with more than 20 years of experience in advertising and direct marketing. If you would like to learn more about the safest, smartest ways to turn your current job skills and experience into a potential six-figure income as a self-employed professional, visit his website:


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