Taking the First Steps on the Road to Self-Employment

If you're considering self-employment, you may not know where to start

Laid off. Laid off?? Whatever do you mean?

I had never even considered the concept — until, that is, the contract I was working on came to an abrupt end. From 2004 to 2011, I had worked for a government contractor, traveling around the nation providing training to computer center administrators and residents in low-income housing properties. During those years, I developed writing, presentation and training skills that I thought would serve me throughout my career. But instead, still wide-eyed from being newly divorced and finding myself facing unemployment, I had no idea what I was going to do, let alone what I wanted to do.

Outplacement counseling got me thinking about career change, but there was no “yellow brick road” for me to follow. Networking, job clubs, resume writing, interviewing! It was all a swirl; I hadn’t done any of this in years! And at the age of 53, I was astounded that I was considered past my prime and the offers just weren’t coming.

In fact, of the 14 or so employees who were laid off at the same time I was, several of us over the age 50 struggled to gain traction. Come on now, I had earned a master’s degree, had years of experience, and I wasn’t used to this nonsense. I was used to making things happen, not worrying about keeping my apartment. I was completely at sea!

I started to consider self-employment as an option. After all, I was working several part-time jobs as a contractor, in essence working for myself . . . but without a plan.

What would I do? Who would I be as “self-employed”? Not a clue. Except, I have enjoyed reading for the blind as a volunteer for many years, in tribute to my grandmother who lost her sight to glaucoma when I was in my teens. Later, as my father battled cancer, one thing that soothed him in the wee hours was listening to me read Walter Moseley books to him.

It gave me the germ of an idea. The voice . . .

I had hosted monthly webinars for the contractor and had developed a “fan base”; whenever I attended a conference or made a presentation, people immediately knew who I was. I became “the Voice.” Heady stuff!

To keep myself fresh and getting dressed every day, I became a volunteer with AARP Foundation, ultimately contributing to a program assisting 50+ jobseekers. Again, no yellow brick road. BUT, since there is so much information on the AARP Foundation website, I searched for resources to assist folks in my position who are considering self-employment as a means to financial security. “Aha! Maybe there’s some guidance here!” Anything that would shine a light on next steps . . . and my hunch paid off!

AARP Foundation’s “Work for Yourself@50+” program was right there waiting for me . . . for you . . . for us! Are you ready to get on the road with me? Take the first step, Explore Your Options.

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