My business just turned 5 years old in August. Sometimes that’s hard to believe. There have been some great times, and some tough times over the past five years, but at the end of the day I remain convinced that it was the right move for me.
When it happened, it was (I thought) the worst possible time. I had no notice, and was offered no severance. I hadn’t been in the U.S. for very long, and had no contacts or network. My husband was unemployed, my teenage son was dealing with the issues that go along with being a teenager, and things were already uncomfortably tight financially. The business was started partially out of anger, and partly as a way to earn extra money while I went back to school (so I could retrain for a better job where I wouldn’t be laid off … yeah, I know, but it made sense at the time). I only realized much later that it was really started as a way for me to regain some feeling of control.
All I had when I began were the skills I had learned over the years. As a paralegal, I’d been fortunate enough to be exposed to many different areas of the law over the years. Some things stuck, some didn’t. My challenge was finding out how to repackage those skills into something that I could market.
In my case it began with an idea – market the knowledge I’d gained into U.S. company practices, securities law procedures and set-ups to Canadian law firms and businesses looking to expand into the U.S. market. The dollars were nowhere near as close as they now, and so the idea of having access to a cheap (relatively) source of information, corporate set-ups, maintenance and SEC filing information was a good deal. And it certainly didn’t hurt that I understood how things worked on the both sides of the border.
Since then, my business model has changed (although some recent northern contacts have me rethinking that). It’s grown, ventured into new areas, and this year has expanded again. I went from the basement to an office, and from a solo, DIY operation to someone with “people.”
Now I’m seeing lots of other people in the same position I was 5 years ago. Some are starting businesses for the same reasons I did, while others are starting things, not because they need to, but because they want to. They’re from all over the business map: experienced, to absolute newbies. I think that’s exciting and encouraging.
For anyone out there thinking about starting a business – for whatever reason – join us on the Forum! We’ve all got something to offer – we all have some kind of skill that other people want. Knowing how to find that skill, and how to market it … that’s the question. Fortunately, our Forum is creating a place where you can find an answer.