Lost your job? Then use your unemployment benefits to start your dream business. This option is a reality, not a fantasy, if you live in California, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania.
These eight states took advantage of new federal legislation authorizing the creation of self-employment assistance (SEA) programs, which last as long as each state's unemployment benefits program. But don't get too excited--SEA programs are very selective about whom they recruit. They look for people who are likely to exhaust their unemployment benefits and who are willing to work full time to develop their businesses.
Each state may also impose its own additional requirements. In New Jersey, for example, individuals must have or be able to obtain financial backing to sustain the business until it becomes self-supprting.
If you meet the admission guidelines for your state, all programs require you to attend basic entrepreneurial training courses; some also require individualized business counseling after the initial training.
For additional program requirements and information, contact your state's SEA program.