At a Loss?

Never fear. Here's all the pumping, priming and know-how you need to lift yourself from the pink-slipped masses and turn the loss of your job into a business even your former employer will envy.

All the newspapers scream that another company has laid off thousands of workers. You never thought it could happen, but suddenly, there you are-one of those thousands.

Your first impulse: panic. What will happen now? To your family, your future? Maybe you're angry, or even relieved. Whatever your reaction, it's perfectly natural to be unsettled. We like to believe we have control over our lives, and when that control is taken away, we're uncertain and insecure. But if you've ever dreamed of running your own business, now is the time to take control and do it. Here are four steps to prime you for a business of your own:

1. Turn Rejection Into Motivation.
Did your former employers appreciate your talents and work ethic? Probably not. Don't stew in anger or self-pity. Show them what you're made of.

Once, in an important meeting, I announced I'd sell 100,000 books in one year. Someone let out a short, high-pitched laugh. That laugh echoed in my mind every time I picked up the phone. The larger the company I was trying to sell to, the louder the laugh would resonate, and the harder I'd try to make the sale. I sold 100,000 books in eight months.

Read our RoadBlock Busters article to determine what's stopping you from starting a business and what you can do about it.

2. Embrace Change.
The secret of change is to focus on the new path, not on the comfort of a worn trail. The new path is often where you'll find the most fertile ground. Of course, you can expect to encounter adversity, but, as the Roman philosopher Seneca said, "Adversity introduces a man to himself." Instead of thinking about all you've lost, focus on the possibilities ahead.

3. Design Your Life.
Success is the ability to design the life you want to live. Now's your chance to do something you're passionate about. What do you care about more than anything else? What would make you look forward to going to work each day? A passionate love of your product or service will drive you on your new path.

4. Develop a Strategy.
Having a clear purpose, setting realistic goals and thinking strategically can help you get past even the greatest adversity in the battle for success.

Author Caroline Schroeder once said, "Some people change their ways when they see the light; others when they feel the heat." In the heat of a layoff, you can die or live. The only way to live is to make a change. Why not make it the start of your own business?

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Barry Farber is the author of 11 books on sales, management and peak performance. His latest release, "Diamond in the Rough" CD program, is based on his book, radio and television show. Visit him at www.BarryFarber.com, or email him at barry@barryfarber.com.

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This article was originally published in the July 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: At a Loss?.

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