More than 22 million jobs were lost due to the coronavirus. Experts say some 22% of those jobs are gone forever.
As you can see from the following graph, the hardest hit industry is the service economy—especially Leisure & Hospitality. The service sector accounts for 40% of the permanent job losses the country has suffered. According to Yelp, nearly 16,000 restaurants and almost 5,500 bars and nightclubs have closed permanently. That leaves millions of people unemployed, and in industries that will take years to recover.
The government stimulus programs have provided temporary relief. And Congress is working on another stimulus pact but that, too, will be temporary. As those funds run out, unemployed and underemployed citizens need to figure out, “what’s next?”
Fortunately, there are lots of options. None are overnight solutions, but with thought and investigation, it is possible for a new—and even better—beginning.
I have some experience with this—a devastating loss that turned into an entire new career.
In the early 90s, I was in the banking industry. I was a Vice President of a Florida bank, managing a branch, developing business, and making loans. During that period, mergers and acquisitions were rampant in many industries. That was mostly predicated by the 1990-1991 recession the country was undergoing, as well as a move to deregulate banking, trucking, long distance telecommunications, airlines, and energy, that started in the 1970s.
Banking was particularly hard hit, by both the recession and the merger frenzy. In fact, from 1989 to 1994, there were 169 bank mergers. The recession and the mergers led to massive layoffs in the banking industry. And after eight years in the industry, my job was axed when a larger, regional bank bought out my bank. In fact, all of our branch managers lost our jobs as the new owner merged branches which were ultimately run by its own managers.
But the carnage didn’t stop there. In the late 1990s, there were 370 bank mergers. Those mergers led to lots more job losses—accounting for about 11% of the total job losses in 1998 alone. That year, Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. fired 5% of its workers—about 3,400 people, and Citigroup laid off 10,400 folks, or 6% of its workforce, according to outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.
So, I had lots of company. Just like the folks who are now without jobs.
However, once I got over my initial shock, I was actually relieved. You see, I hated my job. The industry had changed so much since I began my banking career, and—in my opinion—not for the better. And yet, inertia just kept me working there. So, when the layoffs arrived, I was ready for something new—I just didn’t know what that would be.
Outplacement to the Rescue
I was truly fortunate that the new bank owner provided outplacement resources for those of us who were laid off. That consisted of 3 days, one-on-one, with an outplacement counselor, who tested my skills, and asked me lots of questions about the kinds of tasks that I liked and didn’t like about my all of my previous jobs. He then helped me redesign my resume to pursue those jobs that included most of the tasks I liked to do. The result—a brand new, tailored resume and a list of careers that intrigued me. That experience led to my entry into the investing world.
I haven’t heard much about companies that are offering outplacement services to their laid-off workers today. And since many of the lost jobs are in the service industry—in small mom-and-pop businesses, there probably are not going to be many such benefits.
Fortunately, there are still outplacement companies you can use, although you may have to pay something for their services. And for folks who aren’t sure what their next career step should be, I think a good outplacement service can be invaluable.
Here’s what you can expect from using outplacement resources:
- Self-assessment tests to help you explore new careers and create a new strategy
- Develop marketing materials, including a resume and LinkedIn profile
- Enhance and grow your personal brand so that you and future employers can understand the value you offer to their organizations
- Identify your ideal job and duties
- Develop a networking strategy to expand your job search
- Hone your interviewing skills
- Learn how to negotiate and evaluate job offers
And these are some of the top-ranked businesses offering outplacement services, according to thejub.com:
- Career Coaching
- Curated Job Matching
- 1:1 Resume Writing and Job Interview Preparation
- Proven Global Solution with Millions of Users
- Job Placement Guarantee
- Affordable, Starting at $500 Per Person
- Career Coaching
- Resume Writing and Branding
- Professional Branding
- Customized Job Leads
- Dedicated Team of Three Career Professionals
- Career Coaching
- Dedicated Account Team From Start to Finish
- Targeted Job Leads
- Access to Local Job Resources
- Resume Writing Assistance
Lee Hecht Harrison (LHH)
- Active Placement
- Career Transition for Senior Executives
- Redeploying Talent Internally
- Advanced Technology
- Talent Sourcing
- Virtual Career Fairs
- Career Coaching
- 24/7 Access to Award-winning Platform
- Designed for Adult Learners
- Social Network Integration
- Subscription-Based Model
Finally, the book, What Color Is Your Parachute, by Richard Nelson Bolles—whether or not you use an outplacement service—is a wonderful resource. The book was first published in 1970 and is still in print. I think it is a tremendous resource. You can probably find it in your library, but you can also buy it at any major bookstore or online.
The book—like an outplacement service—focuses on defining who you are, not what you do as the starting point to a new career. It preaches networking as the best way to find a new position, rather than sending out resumes in bulk
And speaking of who you are, if you are currently facing a layoff—or still have a job but looking to change careers—why not look into a side job (side hustle), one that is custom-made for your talents and interests?
Again, if you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’d like to share how I turned my real estate interests into a second career.
You see, I’ve always loved real estate—I’ve bought and sold numerous properties. And since I was a young woman, I have spent many weekends visiting open houses—to get design/decorating ideas, as well as to learn of new building and technology innovations that I might want in my next home.
When I was in the process of interviewing Realtors to sell my mother’s house after she passed away, the agent asked me if I had considered a real estate career. I thought that was funny, as I had long had many friends in the real estate business, but never really considered it for myself. I was a securities analyst and an investment newsletter writer! What did I want with a real estate career?
But I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. And after careful consideration, I thought, “well, if nothing else, I can save myself some money on commissions when I’m buying and selling my own properties.” And it was an opportunity to learn something new, which I’m always ready to do.
So, I went to real estate school and got my license. That was in 2005; the market was great, and I thought “boy, this is an easy way to make money.” Of course, you can guess what happened when the real estate market crashed in 2007 and we entered a two-year recession. However, that, too, was a great learning experience. I survived, went on to get my broker’s license, managed a real estate company, and then opened my own. Today, real estate is still my second career.
Now, I pretty much fell into that job. But millions of people are making money from their hobbies and special interests. I know several real estate photographers who started out snapping photos with a Polaroid instant camera and who now own cameras, lenses, tripods, and fancy screens that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars—the tools of the trade for a very lucrative career.
A good friend began collecting antiques back in the early 70s. Once he retired from his day job as a graphics artist, he opened an antique store. That led to estate sales, and now, he and his wife own one of the busiest—and most profitable—eBay sites for reselling antiques.
A work colleague who is a successful Home Warranty salesperson is now also driving for Uber and pulls in a couple of thousand dollars per month.
A neighbor’s daughter was a pet groomer for years. Then, she invented a ‘hoodie’ for animals that made the grooming process less terrifying to animals. She now sells that product to companies around the world.
The point is, your hobbies or interests can help lead you into—at the very least—a sideline that is fun and earns money—and maybe offers a new career direction.
Here are some other ideas for side hustles:
Deliver food for someone like Grubhub, DoorDash, or Uber Eats.
Are you a savvy social media user? Lots of companies need help with that. Websites like Fiverr can help you market those skills.
Clean houses. Busy people appreciate a good house cleaner and will pay handsomely for one.
Design logos for someone like 99designs.com. In this world, new small businesses will be popping up, and most people don’t have a clue how to design a logo.
Develop a dog walking service or a mobile pet grooming service.
If you like to cook and have an awesome specialty, why not start a food truck?
Wash and detail cars. This is a much-wanted service, and pretty lucrative. Just about every web site is looking for content, so if you can write, you can probably find someone who needs your services.
Do you have organizational skills? Consider becoming a virtual assistant. Lots of small businesses need help with administrative tasks but can’t afford a full-time employee. Fiverr.com or upwork.com are just two of the companies that market virtual assistants.
Transitioning to a New Career
If you do decide to transition into a whole new career, that may require some additional training. You may need to take some classes at a college or vocational school. If you have a degree, check with your Alumni organization to see what they may offer. Lastly, you can ask a mentor in your chosen field to allow you to shadow him to see if his position/industry may be right for you.
And here are some additional resources:
CareerOneStop: sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor where you can explore careers and find training opportunities.
ApprenticeshipUSA: also sponsored by the Department of Labor. It has 65,000 available apprenticeships and on-the-job training opportunities.
Microsot Virtual Academy: for free, on-demand technology courses.
Lastly, some state unemployment offices offer free training for career transitions.
Some side hustles can be done while sitting at your computer. But as the coronavirus pandemic has shown us, there are many full-time jobs that are also being done remotely.
The National Association for Business Economists (NABE) surveyed 12,000 professionals in the U.S., Germany, and India, and found that 40% of them are now working remotely. I’ve talked to countless friends and associates—almost all of whom are working remotely—and many of them tell me that—even after coronavirus—their companies plan to make their remote option available on a permanent basis.
Research firm Gartner found that 74% of the 317 CFOs and business finance leaders it surveyed said they are transitioning their previously on-site workforces to permanently remote positions after the pandemic. And in a recent study, Harvard Business School noted that companies who moved some of their employees to remote workers since the pandemic believe that at least 16% of them will continue to work at home post COVID-19.
The biggest reason: the cost-saving benefits of working from home—for both employee and employer. FlexJobs has reported that remote employees are saving an average $4,000 per year on commuting expenses, office meals, and other miscellaneous costs. And even before COVID-19, Sun Microsystems said remote working was saving it $68 million annually in real estate costs, and both Dow Chemical and Nortel have reported savings of more than 30% on non-real estate costs.
All sizes and types of companies are embracing the remote work trend. Here are just a few of the businesses that have switched to long-term remote work—all names you will recognize:
- Capital One
- Nationwide Insurance
So, if you think that remote working might be a good option for you, know that from the second to third quarter of this year, there was a 53% rise in companies recruiting remote workers.
And just from July to August, there was a 12% increase in remote job listings.
Some of the top companies that have greatly increased their available remote jobs are: Amazon, Shopify, and UnitedHealth Group. And these 10 companies posted the highest number of remote job listings between March 1, 2020 and September 15, 2020:
- Robert Half International
- Kelly Services
- UnitedHealth Group
- Keywords Studios
And here are the fields in which remote jobs are rapidly growing:
- Customer Service
- Accounting & Finance
- Project Management
- Mortgage & Real Estate
Some of the job titles include accountant, bookkeeper, customer service representative, developer, teacher, writer, virtual assistant, business development manager, copywriter, marketing manager, and product manager.
Is Now the Time to Start your own Business?
Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of having your own business. I can tell you that starting a business from scratch is not easy. There’s the legal costs and more paperwork than you may want to deal with, to register your business with your state, county, and city; logo and branding development costs; website development; 5-year business plan; start-up and ongoing marketing costs; location and demographic research; various licenses; and lots more.
Is Franchising an Option?
That’s why some folks start their entrepreneurial careers with a franchise. Franchising actually dates back to the Middle Ages (from the 5th to the 15th century), when high church officials were granted a license to maintain order, assess taxes, hold markets, and perform business-related activities. This continued into the Colonial Period (1607-1776 in America). But today’s more modern franchises date back to the beer brewers who licensed their brews to taverns in Germany in the 1840s.
Franchising is simply when a company bestows a license to an individual or group to market its goods or services in a particular territory.
In 2019, there were 773,603 franchises in the United States. And if you can think of a product or service, there is probably a franchise for it. Think about all the franchises that you may frequent: Starbucks, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Midas Muffler, your local UPS store, Molly Maid, and Papa John’s.
They are just a few of the most popular franchises. Jobmonkey.com lists these categories as the franchises with the highest demand today:
- Automotive Franchises: General shops; specialty shops—transmissions, muffler, tires, detailing, rentals, etc.
- Beauty Franchises: Tanning, nail salons, hair salons, weight loss, cosmetics, etc.
- Business Opportunities: franchise opportunities
- Business Services: Medical billing, paralegal services, payroll, taxes, business management, consulting, pre-employment screening, and much more.
- Children Related: Tutoring, fitness, photography, games, and more.
- Cleaning and Maintenance: Commercial and home cleaning, carpet, rental, air duct and HVAC systems, etc.
- Computer and Internet: Technical services, computer games
- Education Franchises: Business coaching, tutoring for children, science programs, and more.
- Financial Services: Credit repair, financing, tax preparation, and more.
- Food & Drink Franchises: Pizza shops, juice bars, coffee shops, restaurants, fast food, and more.
- Health & Fitness: Nutrition, diet centers, fitness classes, senior fitness, drug testing, tanning centers, and more.
- Home Related: Handyman, furniture repair, lawn care, security, remodeling, insulation, roofing, painting, pest control, etc.
- Miscellaneous: Vending, laundry and dry cleaning, transportation, wedding, and event planning, etc.
- Pet Services: Pet food, pet supplies, pet care, and more.
- Photo and Video: Children’s photography, team photography, trophies, DVD rental kiosks, video stores, etc.
- Printing and Packing: Shipping, imprinting, and copies.
- Retail Franchises: Party stores, apparel, convenience stores, electronics stores, hardware, eye care stores, pharmacies, sports stores, telecommunications, and much more.
- Senior Services: Assisted living, senior care, walk-in medical clinics, and more.
- Sports and Recreation: Sportswear, nutrition, fitness centers, children’s fitness, massage and spas, campgrounds, etc.
- Travel Franchises: Cruise planning, hotel reservations, transportation, etc.
They left out the one category that I am most familiar with, and that’s Real Estate. The National Association of Realtor’s website lists 29 real estate franchises.
Here are the top 10 food franchises:
|COMPANY||CATEGORY||2019 US SYSTEM-WIDE SALES MILLIONS||2019 AVERAGE SALES PER UNIT THOUSANDS||2019 FRANCHISED UNITS||2019 COMPANY UNITS||2019 TOTAL UNITS|
The costs to open a franchise generally range from $10,000-$50,000. Some are cheaper; some are considerably more expensive.
Here’s a small list of the most popular franchises and how much it costs to buy in:
McDonald’s: $45,000, but you will need a minimum of $955,000 in nonborrowed, personal resources to be considered
Subway: $15,000, but you will need a total investment of $116,600 and $263,150.
Wendy’s: $40,000, and you must have $2 million in liquid assets with $5 million net worth.
Pizza Hut: $25,000, and a budget of $1.3 million to $3 million and a net worth of $1 million with $360,000 in liquid assets.
Dunkin Donuts: $40,000 to $90,000 start-up fee, initial investment of $228,621 to $1,692,314, and $250,000 liquidity and net worth of $500,000 per unit.
But you don’t need that much money for the following franchises, according to franchise.com:
- PostalAnnex: $70,000
- Allstate Insurance; $100,000
- Claim Tek Systems (medical billing): $20,000
- ServiceMaster Clean: $36,300
- Glass Doctor: $35,000
- Huntington Learning Centers: $65,000
- AmeriSpec Home Inspection Services: $22,000
- Furniture Medic: $25,000
- Century 21 Real Estate: $25,000
- Crye-Leike Realtors: $9,500-$25,000
- Re/Max: $10,000-30,000
- United Country: $10,500
If I haven’t scared you away yet, keep reading for the advantages and disadvantages of owning a franchise, according to thebalancesmb.com:
- Low failure rate. Statistics show that franchises have a much better chance of success than independent start-up businesses.
- Business assistance. When you buy a franchise, you receive all of the equipment, supplies, and instruction needed to start your business. In many cases, you receive ongoing training and help with management and marketing.
- Buying power. Your franchise will benefit from the collective buying power of the parent company.
- Star power. Many well-known franchises have national brand-name recognition.
- Profits. A franchise business can be immensely profitable.
- Rules and guidelines. The main disadvantage of buying a franchise is that you must conform to the rules and guidelines of the franchisor.
- Ongoing costs. Besides the original franchise fee, a percentage of royalties from your franchise’s business revenue will need to be paid to the franchisor each month.
- Ongoing support.
- Buying into a well-known franchise is costly.
- Buying a little-known, perhaps inexpensive franchise can come with risks. Just because a business is offering franchises is no guarantee that the franchise will be successful.
So, if you’ve come this far and are still interested in buying a franchise, the next thing to do is to identify a franchise that appeals to you. And then begin the research and evaluation process.
You may want to start your research with these questions:
What are the real costs associated with the franchise? Fees include the franchise fee (initial costs); the build-out, which could include the cost of an architect, leasing or buying a building, remodeling and so on; extra costs such as equipment leases, monthly advertising fees, or ongoing royalty payments.
Will you have exclusivity? How large is your territory; how long is the franchise’s exclusivity commitment to you? Will you be first in line as other territories open up?
How are suppliers handled? Do you have to use the company’s suppliers; do you buy supplies directly from the company?
What kind of profits can you expect? This is not always easy to ferret out, so you will have to be very specific with your questions.
Here are a few sources if you would like to investigate franchising:
Starting a Business from Scratch
As I mentioned earlier, if you feel the entrepreneurial spirit, and you have what you think is a great idea for a business, you can just start one from scratch. This country is run on small businesses. Companies that are less than 5 years old typically create nearly all of the net new jobs in the American economy.
But before you start a business, there are two primary questions you will need to answer: What kind of business do you want to start; and where are you going to get the funds?
As to the type of business, most people who create a company from scratch have been dreaming about the type of product or service that they would want to own for many years. But not always.
I have a friend who was a journalist. But she wanted to start her own company. She spent a year or so researching different types of businesses to find out where there was an unmet need that would be lucrative and fun. She created a directory for airports listing all the available space to lease, the existing tenants, traffic demographics, and leasing cost. It was a tremendous success, and one in which she had absolutely no experience. But her journalistic research skills paid off. She has since gone on to found a publication that focuses on innovations in cities around the country.
There are 106,548 real estate brokerage firms in the U.S. Most were founded by folks like me, who started out simply selling homes.
And most of the side-hustle jobs I discussed earlier could also turn into a full-time business.
But before you jump into a new business, there are a few steps (besides financing) that the Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends that you take:
- Demand: Is there a desire for your product or service?
- Market size: How many people would be interested in your offering?
- Economic indicators: What is the income range and employment rate?
- Location: Where do your customers live and where can your business reach?
- Market saturation: How many similar options are already available to consumers?
- Pricing: What do potential customers pay for these alternatives?
You can find demographic and economic statistics at the SBA site.
Write your Business Plan
Your business plan should be a guide on how you will start and operated your business. It should include:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing and sales
- Funding request
- Financial projections
The SBA provides example business plans here.
Fund your Business
Funding and financing is available from several sources, but it’s not easy to obtain. The first thing you have to decide is how much money you will need to get started—and also to operate for a few years, until you begin to make a profit. More than 45% of men say that getting the money to start a new business is difficult, but 63% of women find funding a new business to be challenging.
This SBA site will help you with funding know-how.
Here are the most popular sources to obtain funding:
Self-funding. Self-funding can come in the form of turning to family and friends for capital, using your savings accounts, or even tapping into your 401k.
Venture Capital. Investors can give you funding to start your business, but it is usually offered in exchange for an ownership share and active role in the company. Globally, venture capitalists have funded more than $129 billion to businesses so far this year.
What you can expect from Venture Capital:
- Focuses on high-growth companies. Statista.com reports that in the first six months of this year, the following industries have received the most venture capital funding:
- Internet, $11.3 billion
- Healthcare, $6.4 billion
- Software (non-internet/mobile), $2.9 billion
- Mobile & Telecommunications, $2.9 billion
- Electronics, $507 million
- Invests capital in return for equity, rather than debt (it’s not a loan)
- Takes higher risks in exchange for potential higher returns
- Has a longer investment horizon than traditional financing
- Almost all venture capitalists will, at a minimum, want a seat on the board of directors. So be prepared to give up some portion of both control and ownership of your company in exchange for funding.
Venture capital funding is very difficult to come by. Vox.com says that 80% of venture capital investment is spent in just three states: California, Massachusetts, and New York. Additionally, a Diversity VC study found that 27% of founders who receive venture capital attended an Ivy League university. Only 2% of venture capital goes to women-led firms, and just 1% to firms led by African-Americans.
Crowdfunding. The crowdfunders are not really investors, as they don’t get any equity in your company or a return on their investment. Instead, they usually offer financial support for a “gift” from your company, such as meeting the business owner or getting their name in the credits. This is commonly done for documentary producers. For the business owner, crowdfunding is really not much risk. But it’s also hard to attract money in this way.
Ondeck.com lists these 5 business types as the easiest to get crowdfunding:
- Independent books
- Original tech gadgets
- Local Service Businesses
- Home cooking tools
- Unique (and often quirky) home inventions
Get a small business loan. This is also hard to do. And if you seek a loan, it is critical that you come prepared to your banker. You’ll need your business plan as well as a 5-year projection of your costs and profit expectations. And be prepared to offer significant collateral, such as your home.
Use Lender Match to find lenders who offer SBA-guaranteed loans. The SBA has a lot of loans and grants for small businesses. And they also provide some great training in how to start and run a business.
Small Business Administration investment programs. These include:
Small Business Investment Company (SBIC), privately owned and managed investment funds licensed and regulated by the Small Business Administration.
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, programs for companies interested in federal research and development that has the potential for commercialization.
Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program focuses on the same types of companies as the SBIR (above), but introduces small businesses with nonprofit research institutions in the early and intermediate stages of starting up.
Additionally, I found these state and privately funded business grants and resources for small businesses.
Federal small-business grants. Government agencies are among the biggest distributors of grants.
Federal small business information. There is no money at this site, but it includes resources for starting or growing a business, including a link which has information on the types of available federal small-business loans.
State and regional small-business grants. The Economic Development Administration provides grants, resources and technical assistance to communities to support economic growth and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
Corporate small-business grants. Many corporations and large companies have a philanthropic component that includes small-business grants.
- Grand prize: One (1) winner of $50,000, plus $7,500 in FedEx Office print and business services
- Silver prize: One (1) winner of $30,000, plus $5,000 in FedEx Office print and business services
- Bronze prize: Ten (10) winners of $15,000, plus $1,000 in FedEx Office print and business services
National Association for the Self-Employed: NASE members can apply for monthly small-business grants worth up to $4,000, as well as an annual $3,000 college scholarship for members’ dependents.
Additionally, there are specialty small-business grants awarded to: women, veterans, and minorities.
Pick your Business Location
If your new business will be dependent on walk-in traffic, it’s critical that you choose a location that is demographically and geographically smart. This website will give you additional tips on how to do this.
Choose a Business Structure
This choice can cost or save you thousands of dollars in taxes, so it’s important to get it right. You can find information about which business structure suits you best here.
Choose your Business Name and Register it to Protect It
Get Federal and State Tax IDs
Apply for Licenses and Permits
Open a Business Bank Account
I know this looks pretty overwhelming, but if taken in baby steps, you can do it! In addition to the SBA, there are two other great sources of information, and even mentors to help you every step of the way.
Business incubators help new and startup companies to develop by providing services such as management training or office space. I was instrumental in founding a Business Incubator in the county where I previously resided. We sent the candidates first to the SBA for initial vetting and training. Once they completed those tasks, we taught them how to understand their financial statements and funding needs, and then how to present their company to a potential investor. And mentors were available to assist them with counseling for the first few years of their businesses. Our incubator was funded a joint effort by a local college, state, and county government.
You can find information from the National Business Incubation Association here.
The other organization is SCORE.
SCORE offers a wide array of entrepreneurship information, training, and resources, and can even help you find a mentor who has experience in the type of product or service you want to sell.
I’ve given you plenty to think about here. But know this; these resources are just a smidgen of the help that’s available to jump start your side-hustle, your new career, your franchise, or your start-up business. I hope you find it of value.