Editor’s note: guest post by Ellen Rohr.

What’s the difference between unemployed and self-employed?


It’s a matter of choosing different words.

“Thoughts become things. Choose good ones.” ~ Mike Dooley

Your thoughts are revealed by your words. Perhaps you’ve been downsized, or quit your job as a reaction to too much stress or frustration. Maybe you’ve been fishing for a new job and, so far, not gotten many bites. And maybe you are spending too much time and energy whining about it.

In the last 48 hours, have you mentioned how tough the economy is? Have you told someone how long you’ve been looking for a job, or how hard it is to find one?

You can stop talking like that.

In fact, why don’t you just STOP looking for a job?

Instead, consider starting a business of your own. You can be self-employed as soon as the words leave your lips. And, you could create your own profitable business in a weekend.

If that sounds a little scary, consider this: The least secure position is a job. You can lose a job, even a great job, in a heartbeat. Yes, it’s risky to start a business. But at least you will be the one in charge, the one making the decisions. You’ll have more control over your destiny in a business of your own.

From School of Hard Knocks to Easy Street

Once upon a time, I had a great job, as a restaurant manager of a hip, progressive restaurant chain. My husband owned a plumbing business. When his best friend and business partner died, suddenly and tragically, I quit my real job and went to work with my husband.

It was awful. We lost a lot of money and we took out our frustrations on each other. I was ready to flush the business, and my marriage, down the drain. Then, I read an article by a fellow named Frank Blau in Plumbing & Mechanical magazine. He wrote about how to turn around a sinking business. He suggested that…

  • You get clear on what you want and write it down.
  • You figure out how much you want to make and how much you’ll have to charge.
  • You come up with something to sell and sell it to somebody.

I wrote Frank a letter. I spent two pages telling him how hard it was to be in business, how tough the economy was, how frustrated I was…blahblahblah. Unfazed, Frank adopted me as his protégée. He said, “First, stop whining. Next, if you are willing to do the basics, you can create a successful business.”

That was the turning point. It took a weekend for me to restructure our business, raise our prices and start down the path of profitability.

Is there a business in you? Ready to take a weekend and find out? Here’s the 48 hour plan…

  • Friday evening…hit the office supply store.
    • Pick up a three-ring binder and some copy paper
    • On the way home, stop at the grocery store and get food for the weekend. Simple, fresh, no-fuss items like soup, yogurt, cereal, fruit, granola bars.
    • Then, lock the door. Turn off your phone. Commit to 48 hours of focused thought and written commitment.
  • Saturday…start assembling your Biz Plan, in your binder. Answer the basic journalistic questions:
    • What do you want? To be, do and have? And Why?
    • What can you offer that is needed and/or wanted?
    • Who do you need to help you?
    • How much do you want to make and how much will you need to charge?
    • Who is going to want what you are offering?
    • How are you going to make good on your sales?
  • Sunday…keep after the big questions. At 2 pm, start assembling a list of Top Projects.
    • Of all the things you have thought about over the weekend, what are five Top Projects you could commit to doing this coming week that will help you get going and profitable? Here are some examples…
      • Find a successful business owner in your chosen industry with whom you don’t compete and convince him or her to mentor you.
      • Put together a Marketing Plan, including Social Media and Publicity.
      • Put a Budget together for 2012 and create goals for Sales and Expenses.
      • Install Quickbooks ™ and learn how to use it.
      • Take a Sales Training class.
    • When are you going to get these Projects done and done by? Write the dates in your Calendar.
  • Monday…sell something to somebody. Yep, go make a sale. Call or visit or email until someone says, “Yes!” If your idea is a winner, it should prove out.

You can build a business plan, and a profitable business, in a weekend…and be making money by Monday. Why not move fast? If your business plan is sound, you should be able to sell something on Monday. And, if you don’t, then tweak the business plan.

And, from this point forward, when anyone asks you what you do, say…

“I’m self-employed.”

Interesting bonus: As you get your own business going, don’t be surprised if you start getting job offers. It happens as surely as newly adoptive parents become pregnant. Maybe it’s because you are distracting yourself from your defeatist thoughts, too busy with your exciting new business plan. Maybe it’s because you’re acting and speaking in a more positive, proactive way. In any event, you become more attractive when you are making things happen, as opposed to fretting and waiting.

Plumber’s wife turned business mogul, Ellen Rohr, nearly sank the family business. Then, she learned how to create financial and lifestyle freedom…building a $40 million franchise organization in under two years. She shares her simple, powerful business planning basics at www.BareBonesBiz.com