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Are you still employable?

Take a look around the web, and you’ll find literally thousands of blogs and articles from small business owners, telling the tale of how they made the leap from employed to self-employed.  Tens of thousands, even. They speak of persevering through the hard times, lessons learned along the way, and all the perks of a working from home, making their own decisions and work-life balances to make even the most satisfied employee envious.

But what happens when things don’t go to plan?

While no one launches their own business with the intention to fail, the unfortunate reality is that sometimes they do.  How many? Who knows? I’ve heard 2 percent, I’ve heard 90 percent and I’ve heard everything in between. The important part to remember is that in the wake of every business failure is owners needing to head back to the workforce they left behind. This surprisingly, isn’t as easy as it seems.

Business proprietors, over time, tend to adopt a new career mentality. They’re less selfish, for one. Employees are unwaveringly focused on ‘what’s in it for me’, and will leave if they feel they’re not being adequately compensated, or don’t have training and advancement opportunities, without hesitation. Owners also quickly become ‘jack of all trades’, eroding away specialist skills. When you’re doing everything from admin, to HR, to marketing, you run the risk of becoming mediocre at everything, with no real identifiable areas of expertise. Finally, lack of competition from colleagues all vying for promotions and pay rises can lead to the end of vocal endorsement of their achievements.

This can make getting into the ’employee’ headspace again quite challenging. Heck, it can even make you somewhat unemployable.

So how do you ensure that you’re employable, should you need (or even desire) to head back to the workforce? My top tip is to make sure you’re thinking like an employee, even when you’re not.

Dust off your CV

Just because the prospect of never attending another nerve wracking job interview is beckoning on the horizon, doesn’t mean that it’s time to hit Control-Alt-Delete on that resume. Ambitious employees maintain their CV’s to ensure they’re always prepared for career opportunities as they arise. You should too. It’ll also provide a great starting base to help you plan your next career direction.

Keep in touch with your old life

Smart employees maintain their profile and network whenever possible. Remember, even though your new business might be in a completely new field, the bulk of your recognizable skills lie in your previous employment. Keep in touch with ex-colleagues, industry figures and trends. Should you decide to head back into the workforce, you’ll most likely start where you left off – which is made considerably easier if you’ve still got one foot in the door.

Don’t forget performance reviews

One of the biggest downsides of running your own business is the lack of yearly appraisals and skills development. Employed people are continually learning from others, and engaging in on and off the job training. You can always learn something new, and the benefits of taking a day away from your trade to take a training course or seminar far outweigh the costs. Take the time to complete an annual stock take of your skills and abilities, and create an action plan to ensure you’re constantly learning and improving.

Are you a business owner? Do you think it’s necessary to remain employable? Are you taking any steps to ensure you’re able to walk back into employment again, should you ever need to?

What do you think?

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Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Julian Smith is responsible for MYOB’s corporate affairs, government and public relations in Australia and New Zealand and is also New Zealand general manager. The qualified lawyer has spent much of his career at large multinationals in a range of senior legal, sales, marketing and customer management roles. Julian is a regular keynote speaker and business commentator and sits on a number of government and industry boards and advisory panels. Julian can be found on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/JulianTSmith">@JulianTSmith</a> or contacted via email Julian.smith@myob.com

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