Q. I've been watching the company downsize during the last two years and though they keep reassuring us they won't cut any more staff, I don't trust them. I'm thinking of starting my own company, since I have very close relationships with all my customers, and I believe they will move with me. I should have enough profit sharing to support my family for about a year, if we live carefully. Even though it's a tough economy, I don't see any other choice.
Ans. In the best of times, you would go out on your own because you feel passionate about the work, because you have strong support from peers and customers, and also because you would have a good chance of making more money by keeping all the profits. It's a little tougher in this economic climate, and when you are doing it for other reasons, such as those you wrote, there may be problems says Suzanne Caplan, author of "Start Your Own Business and Hire Yourself" (Jist $14.95). When you work for someone else your employer has to generate the business to keep you busy, as well as the resources to make you productive, and the money to pay for your services. Once you take charge, all of these jobs will be yours. You also must have a real financial plan for the business, beyond the fact that you can survive on your profit sharing for a year. Talk with the small business banker at your local bank to work out that plan and consider where to get funding to carry it out. Kaplan notes your financial results are the "scores" of your business. You also must consider if you are enterprising and enthusiastic enough to get yourself going each morning with a big push.