Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Check Need Before Planning Business

Q. After many years I retired from my job as sales associate in the couture department of an upscale retail chain. I decided to turn my expertise into a business as a wardrobe consultant. I had cards printed and opened a free business account at my bank. Then I arranged to give wardrobe talks at the local library and at one of the small boutiques where I shop. I hoped to go to individual client's homes, examine their clothes, help them discard outdated or inappropriate items, then take them shopping for fashionable up-to-date items. I've been disappointed that so few people have shown interest in hiring me and wonder if you have any ideas for marketing my new company.

Ans. The first problem is that you developed the business without finding out whether or not there was a need for it. And, unfortunately, there probably isn't. Retail sales are down, and even the wealthy are cutting back on "wants" to buy "needs."  In times of serious unemployment like this few people wonder how to update and improve their wardrobes. Most are trying to figure out how to save or earn money for the mortgage, rent and food. An idea is just the tip of the iceberg. The first step is to find out if anyone needs it. You should have placed flyers in community centers, shops and other public places and greet people-in order to discover if there was any potential for this concept. But there is something else you can try. With your excellent credentials, you may be able to use those same skills to get a new part-time job in a less grand retail store.

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