Business Owners and the Economy

Wallace Immen provides some insight into business owners and how they are responding to this frightening economic downturn in his article, Scary times?  Try being on your own, in the Globe and Mail.  Amy Casson, Principal of Polished Image Inc. says she is wrapping up contracts and finding potential new sources of business unwilling to make any commitments.  With  three children to feed, she’s pulled out her resume and is actively seeking a full time job.  Ms. Casson is one in seven; one in the more than two million people in Canada who are self-employed and finding themselves at a career crossroad with the current decline in business.  The services, projects and programs that have been available to many working on their own, are being eliminated by companies in an effort to cut costs.

Despite current market trends, a recent survey from The Association of Management Consultants found 75% of self-employed remain optimistic expecting as much work in six months as they have today.  The industries that have significantly slowed employment of independent workers include mining, manufacturing and retail and those fields seeing little effect so far are health care, utilities, energy, education and environmental consulting.

Robert McCulloch, President of management consultancy CYOR Inc. in Toronto and chairman of the Canadian Association of Management Consultants said, “I thing you’re going to see extreme reactions to the economic downturn. At one extreme, projects are being put on hold, budgets are frozen and consultants are being terminated or asked to take a pay cut”.  On the other, “there will be some companies that will decide to downsize permanent staff and bring in contractors that are easier to let go if things get even tougher”.  Considering the uncertainty, Ms. Casson says, “I’m not going to give up my own business because I’ve trained for it and I have a track record.  I plan to keep up my presence on the Internet and keep networking with clients letting them know I am available as a self-employed coach”.

Career Coaches, Paul Copcut and Nina Spencer, offered tips to survive in tougher times, which included, market yourself, work your network, prospect for opportunities, focus on your expertise, offer added value and create a buzz, to name a few.  Paul Copcutt is the founder of Square Peg Solution and says organizations may be reigning in expenses but they still need solutions for their problems and will invest in those who can offer them.

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