Losing a job can be devastating and finding a new opportunity can be tough these days. But what seems like an ending could be the start of something great, on your terms. Maybe it's time to find your true passion in our industry and make your mark! Here are a few first steps:
Choose a name for your business
If you are planning to incorporate, visit your state's corporation database online where you can do a quick search to see if the name you want is available.
Talk to your accountant
There are many business types and each has different tax implications. Many of these can be set up via the Internet.
Get a business license and open a bank account
Your state and/or county Web site will have information on what is required in your area.
Create a Web site and set up a business e-mail account
A domain name and annual service package starts at about $100. I am a big fan of Yahoo Small Business, which provides software to help you build a basic Web site.
Develop your personal brand and services
Decide what you do (and don't) want to do, and how you will market your services. Want to focus on international planning? Government meetings? Ready to do any aspect of planning? Look into two groups on the social networking site LinkedIn that are just for independent meeting professionals: Independent Planners Network and Independent Meeting Planners.
Decide what will you charge for your services
Most people don't value their work as much as they should. Consider using your last hourly salary (including benefits) as your starting rate, and remember that pricing is always up for.
Reach out. Network
Now is the time to let your connections help you find your next project.
Lisa English, CMP, CMM, is president and chief strategist at Meeting Dimensions in Temecula, Calif. To learn more, go towww.meetingdimensions.com.