By Stacey Freeman
Divorce is expensive. Not only when it comes to legal fees, either. Splitting assets, incurring or becoming dependent on alimony and child support payments, and having less disposable income can each have a substantial impact on a divorcing couple’s financial picture. People often react by adjusting their budgets and changing their spending patterns, both applaudable efforts. Unfortunately, cutting back on luxuries may not be enough to stave off financial disaster in the long term, and the need to generate money inevitably becomes a more pressing goal.
For those who have been out of the workplace for an extended period, returning to work or starting a new career can prove challenging, particularly given the current economic climate. However, supplementing your income is not impossible. It may just take some time and involve a little bit of ingenuity.
If you are presently having difficulty finding employment, or need to build flexibility into your work schedule, you may want to consider starting your own business. After my divorce and receiving full physical custody of my three school-age children, I did exactly that. And it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Not to mention, an increasingly lucrative one. Here are three simple steps I took to get started, which you can, too.
The first question I asked myself is, “What do I have to offer?” In a broad sense, the answer boils down to whether I planned on providing a product or a service. Answering this question meant taking a good, hard look at my skill set and what value I could bring to future customers or clients. I always loved that scene in the 1989 film, “Say Anything,” when Diane Court’s (Ione Skye) father asked Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) about his future career plans, to which he famously replied:
“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”
Neither did I. And since kickboxing was not an answer for me as it was for Lloyd, I chose to offer services – writing services. Choose what you want to do. Remember, product or service.
My educational background is not in business. I studied English during college and then went on to law school immediately afterward. So, for me, there was no “formal” business plan. But there was a plan, with goals. And a timeline for when I could expect to meet them. If I did not, I knew I would otherwise have to change directions. I prepared myself for that possibility.
As a writer, I needed a place to display my skills and get my name out to the public, so I started a blog or, as I often referred to it, my online résumé. I figured out how much it would cost me to build one and what my overhead would be, including the opportunity cost of not working somewhere else in the meantime. In other words, could I afford to take that leap of faith and if I was not able, how could I make it happen? Would I need a business loan? Could I find financing through other means, like selling my diamond engagement ring? The more you can plan for in advance, the easier it will be to reach significant milestones along the way, each of which is an accomplishment unto itself.
Once you complete the two previous steps, the time has come to get to work. For many, starting is often the hardest part. Even if you have given a lot of thought to conceiving of and planning your business, the beginning can be scary. The possibility of rejection is high. So, too, is the chance for wasting time, money, and resources. Worst of all is the opportunity to be embarrassed publicly. All of it can bruise the ego. The problem is if you never set your plan into motion, you never stand to move forward. Regardless of what your product or service is, start out small. Sell one piece. Take on one client. One. Because, as we all know, after one, comes two.
About the author
Stacey Freeman is a New York City-based writer, lifestyle editor at Worthy.com, and the founder and managing director of Write On Track, LLC, a full-service consultancy dedicated to providing high-quality content to individuals and businesses. A respected voice for career reinvention and parenting issues affecting both women and men, Stacey has been published or syndicated in The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, Town & Country, Yahoo!, HuffPost, Popsugar, YourTango, xoJane, Scary Mommy, Maria Shriver, The Good Men Project and other well-known platforms worldwide. Stacey is frequently called upon for her expertise and insights and has been quoted in The New York Times, HuffPost, and SheKnows, to name a few. Stacey holds her B.A. in English, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University at Albany and her J.D. from Boston University School of Law. Email Stacey today at Stacey.Freeman@WriteOnTrackLLC.com or call 800-203-1946 for a free consultation and proposal. For more information, visit www.WriteOnTrackLLC.com.