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Published: Tuesday, 5/16/2006

Ask the Good Girls

Co-author of The Good Girl's Guide to Negotiating

Employer or Employee??

DEAR GOOD GIRLS:

I ve mostly worked in food preparation, except for one summer. It s been a long time since I had a paying job, and I want to try something new. But I m having a hard time finding a job. Sure my real preference is to have my own business, but I don t have the funds, or the marketing know-how. What can I do about this job problem?

DEAR READER,

When you come to a fork in the road, take it. This wise advice from Yogi Berra could apply to you. Take a two-pronged approach to your future. First consider returning to the kitchen, the one place where you currently have experience. Turnover is high among food preparation workers, which means openings should not be too hard to find. Furthermore, the future looks bright. Employment as chefs, cooks and food preparation workers is expected to grow steadily through 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you can afford to be choosy, select a job in areas expected to expand the most meals to go (such as those sold in grocery stores), catering services, and large establishments that contract food services to hospitals, hotels and schools.

At the same time, it s not too early to start pursuing your dream of going out on your own. Because food preparation jobs come in a variety of shapes and schedule sizes (two out of five food prep workers are employed part-time), you may have the flexibility of working another part-time job so you can gain experience in an area you are more passionate about, or perhaps you could take a class to give your educational qualifications a boost.

GETTING STARTED

DEAR GOOD GIRLS,

But how can I get the funds and the marketing know-how to launch my own business?

DEAR READER,

Creating something new is hard work. People make it happen through their imagination, willpower and perseverance, writes IDEO founder Tom Kelley in his latest book about creating change, The Ten Faces of Innovation (Doubleday, 2005). Starting a business requires creativity, yes, but also that old-fashioned trait of persistence.

As a very first step, check out a number of Internet Web sites designed to help the budding entrepreneur:

www.sba.gov/starting_business

Created by the U.S. Small Business Administration, this site offers tips on writing business plans, obtaining financing and marketing, among other key topics. Go to the home page, www.sba.gov, for a list of regional assistance centers.

www.entrepreneur.com/lowcost-businesses

Entrepreneur magazine has put together a list of businesses you can launch without a lot of capital. Personal concierge, legal transcriber and yoga instructor are among the possibilities.

www.score.org

This non-profit group with 389 offices around the country offers low-cost workshops and online counseling. Established in 1964 to help small businesses flourish, it is staffed by more than 10,000 volunteers, both current and retired business owners and corporate leaders.

sbdcnet.utsa.edu

Check out the Small Business Information Center s recently redesigned Web site for all sorts of useful information demographics, small business trends, home businesses, franchises, etc.

But these places can t give you everything you ll need. You ll also have to draw on inner strengths. Love of a challenge, high tolerance for ambiguity, action-oriented, quick learners, avid listeners and open-minded are among the traits that describe successful entrepreneurs. Got it? Go for it!

Got a problem at work? Leslie Whitaker, co-author of The Good Girl's Guide to Negotiating, would like to hear from you. Send Leslie an e-mail at goodgirls@contentthatworks.com or write to P.O. Box 5063, River Forest, Ill. 60305

CTW Features



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