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Whether you’re just leaving college or a post-graduate program, the conditions aren’t the most favorable for finding work. You’re certainly in a better position than someone who has no degree, but according to the New York Times, evidence suggests that employers are hiring college-educated workers for jobs that don’t require college-level skills. Thus, many college graduates are coming out of school to find themselves seriously under-employed, working in jobs that twenty years ago, college grads might have scoffed at.

What’s The Alternative?

When the economy’s in crisis and the prevailing wisdom is to “take whatever job you can get,” do you have any alternatives? Absolutely! What would you choose, if you could? A dismal future of being overworked, under-employed, and under-compensated, working corporate jobs that, with downsizing and outsourcing, continue to less and less secure every day, or a future in which you set your own hours, work in the way that suits you best with the clients you enjoy most, earning the salary that you choose?

A New Plan For Your Future

When you own your own business, you make the rules. Everything happens on your terms. That means you make all the decisions. That’s both awesome and scary, but it puts control over your destiny squarely in your hands. Your success or failure is completely up to you. You might be thinking, “But what about market conditions?” Sure, the economy and certain conditions have an impact on business. But every realtor didn’t go out of business when the housing market struck. Instead, the crisis separated the wheat from the chaff—industry and economic problems have a way of sorting out which businesses are best prepared to weather the storm, add new marketing strategies, and serve their clientele best when trouble hits.

But Is It Safe To Start A Business In A Tough Economy?

Starting a business in challenging and complex economic times sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Yet many of the greatest businesses we know were started in economic conditions remarkably similar to the ones we’re experiencing right now: Apple, Logitech, IBM, FedEx, Proctor and Gamble, Microsoft, CNN, Trader Joe’s, Wikipedia, Sports Illustrated… the list goes on and on. Whether it’s a recession, a depression, or just a strange moment in economic history, it can be a great time to start a business. Plus, if you don’t have a job, you’ll be forced to hustle, and that can make your business grow faster. When you have to pay the bills, you’ll be more apt to do whatever it takes to make your business a success. If you want to minimize your risk, though, you can start your business in your spare time while you continue to look for work. Having a day job while you grow a business that you can eventually transition to also means you’ll be more likely to make smarter business decisions, rather than ones that are borne out of fear, lack of money, and “brain junk.”

Can Just Anyone Start A Business?

Heck, yeah! That’s the American Dream! Anyone can start a business and pursue his or her dreams. Not everyone will be a success, however, and the reason is that there are lots of ways you can get business wrong.

Step 1: Work On Your “Brain Junk”

If you clear out your mental baggage, you’ll be able to think big and avoid self-sabotage. Plus, you’ll also be more likely to actually start your business, since often, people don’t start businesses because they have brain junk around the idea that they can.

Step 2: Find Your “Sweet Spot”

There’s a special intersection where doing what you love meets doing what you’re good at. Find that intersection and you’ll have the highest chance of success.

Step 3: Package That Sweet Spot

You’ll need to package what you love doing and what you’re good at into a profitable business model as well as into a brand that appeals to your target market. And don’t skip knowing who your target market is, either, or you’ll fall into one of the biggest pitfalls for new business owners.

Step 4: Lean Into Your Marketing

Engage with your audience and go the extra step beyond to deliver exceptional customer experiences and you’ll create a loyal following that cares about your success.

Step 5: Build Your Village

You’ll need help as your business grows. Build a village to grow your business and you’ll be set up for success. Starting and growing a business in challenging economic times isn’t easy, and there’s no such thing as “get rich quick.” But if you’re out there, with a new degree and no job, you still have options that can help you to live life your own way and help you reach your dreams. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Learn how to land a career you love

Everyone needs to feel their voice is heard and their contributions are important. Something as simple as sharing a drink the last hour of the day on a Friday with the team to recap wins and give praise can build camaraderie within the team.

All of the above are fairly simple to implement but can make a huge difference in morale and motivation. Have any of these tips worked well for young the past? Do you have other tips to motivate your creative team? If so, please share them with me!

Encourage curiosity. Spark debate. Stimulate creativity and your team will be better at handling challenges with flexibility and resourcefulness. Create a safe space for ideas, all ideas, to be heard. In ideation, we need the weird and off-the-wall ideas to spur us on to push through to the great ideas.

Sure, there are a ton of studies done on this, but here is my very unscientific personal take. When team members can make decisions about how they work on projects, they are more engaged and connected to the project outcome. When they see how potentially dropping the ball would affect the entire team, they step up. When they feel like what they are doing is impactful and valued, they are naturally motivated to learn more, and be even better team members.

Rarely does a one-size-fits-all style work when it comes to team motivation. I have found that aligning employee goals with organization goals works well. Taking time to get to know everyone on your team is invaluable. What parts of their job do they love? What do they not enjoy? What skills do they want to learn? Even going so far as to where they see themselves in five years career-wise. These questions help you right-fit projects, and help your team see you are committed to creating a career path for them within the company.

Most designers I know love a good challenge. We are problem solvers by nature. Consistently give yourself and your team small challenges, both design-related and not. It will promote openness within the team to collaborate, and it will help generate ideas faster in the long run. Whether the challenge is to find a more exciting way to present an idea to stakeholders or fitting a new tool into the budget, make it a challenge just to shake things up.