Saturday, July 14, 2018
Finding and maintaining meaningful employment continues to be a major challenge for autistic adults. Unfortunately, the statistics are not very encouraging as approximately 80% of adults on the spectrum are either unemployed or underemployed after finishing high school. There are a number of job training options worthy of pursuit, although access to opportunity can be elusive. One area gaining momentum is starting a business based upon interests or natural ability. Admittedly, this is not a career path for the faint of heart - but more autistic adults are choosing entrepreneurship as a pathway to independence. Following the conventional custom of finding a job after high school simply has not panned out for many on the spectrum for various reasons. Those who are employed often work in a family owned business on a part-time basis or engage in seasonal employment.
What types of business opportunities are best suited for autistic adults? Obviously there is not a single category that attracts all people on the autism spectrum. In fact, there is considerable diversity among the occupational areas in which autistic adults are finding their way. Some fields are traditional, while others are surprisingly generating novel interest from members of the autism community. For a while software testers was all the rage whenever autism employment was mentioned in a conversation. The problem with that is the number of job openings for software testers is extremely limited, and even more important, not every autistic adult wants to engage in this type of work. With the continued resistance on the part of corporations to hire people with autism, many are taking matters into their own hands. Having an interest or natural inclination in cooking or art has lead to a number of bakeries or studios owned and operated by individuals with autism. Some are managed by a single person, while others employ other employees who are also on the spectrum. This model creates jobs for others and gives back to the larger community by way of civic responsibilities.
Below is a list of employment areas in which autistic adults have forged business opportunities, utilizing their talents to create a rewarding life for themselves.
1. Veterinarian Assistant - For animal lovers who enjoy caring for and providing treatment to injured animals, this can be extremely gratifying. While there are some autistic people who fear being in close proximity with pets, others simply love being around furry companions. The right person can thrive in this career choice, while working in an environment that provides a great deal of personal satisfaction.
2. Landscape Professional - Someone with an eye for design and a love for the outdoors could do quite well in landscaping. Modern designs are bolder and embrace colorful arrangements which express individual taste and creativity. Making use of various textures and open spaces can be challenging, yet rewarding for the person willing to promote themselves. Additionally, outdoor living space is a popular feature in home designs that bode well for future landscaping job opportunities.
3. Architect - Planning and designing structures for residential or commercial purposes requires a specific skill set. The combination of spatial recognition and mathematical ability can lead to a very gratifying career. Meeting the academic training standards may not appeal to everyone, but for those who enjoy creating blue prints and meeting with clients, this may be a viable option to consider.
4. Graphic Designer - In a digital world full of increasing online content, talented graphic designers are in demand. With a choice of platforms to work from, this is an area that's poised for growth. This is not for everyone as precision, accuracy, and meeting strict timelines can be stressful. With that in mind, it is a field worthy of consideration.
5. Coffee Shop Owner - The benefits of operating a coffee shop go far beyond serving up a great cup of brew. Local coffee shops have become a social gathering place for personal acquaintances and business professionals. Having good organizational skills is an absolute must, along with the ability to talk to strangers. This could be the pathway to personal and financial independence for highly motivated individuals.
George D. Williams, MS is an author whose focus is the challenges facing the growing autistic adult population. In addition, he is the founder of Centurion Publishing Services which provides editorial support to authors, business organizations, and the financial industry.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
If you've been at it for a while, and you're getting clients, you start running out of hours pretty quickly. You reached a point where you don't have time to service them all keep up with marketing, social media, administration, and sales. You start getting bogged down with the busy work. It's time to stop trading hours for dollars. It's time to scale. Well, the first step is hire some VAs. Outsource some work to Elance and Odesk even the Philippines. But until you try bringing somebody on board, it's just theory. Wouldn't it be great to have someone give you simple step by step instructions on how to find, hire, and train your first assistant. And even better if that person would help you avoid mistakes and teach you how to create job descriptions, develop systems, and learn how to delegate tasks effectively. And most importantly, they teach you how to let go of control and trust someone else with your business. Too often we think to ourselves, "I could have done this a lot faster than the time it took me to train someone to do it." So, how do you scale your business? Well, that's exactly why I invited Rebekah Radice to come and tell us how she did it. Go look at her content, blog and web properties, all top notch, and she admits, she's not doing it all herself.
Friday, July 6, 2018
What was the most recent net profit margin of your business? Were revenue and profit projections achieved? Is your venture comfortably able to manage its accounts payable? Were you, the owner, able to provide comprehensive medical and dental insurance to yourself and any employees? Were you able to substantively fund your retirement account last year? Were you able to afford a vacation?
If the answer to two or more of those questions is no, I respectfully suggest that you evaluate the future viability of your enterprise. More than a business model tweak or a pivot, you may need to explore another kind of business altogether, one with greater profit-making potential.
Take heed---Sageworks, a financial data services company located in Raleigh, NC, analyzed the net profit margins of 16,000 small businesses that earned less than $5 million between October 1, 2016 and October 31, 2017. The average net profit across all industries in that time period was 8.4 %.
Note that the list of top performers consists almost entirely of Solopreneur-friendly service industries. Despite the challenges of selling services, especially intangible services, to either B2B or B2C clients, Sagework's list demonstrates that it is possible to make money as a self-employed service provider.
Some industries are more Soloprenuer-friendly than others. Accountants and bookkeepers, real estate sellers, attorneys, landlords and certain healthcare practitioners are all able to operate a one-person shop quite well, perhaps with a single employee to provide administrative help.
Educational requirements and professional credentials pose a formidable barrier to entry for several of these high-yield business opportunities, most notably dentistry, chiropractic, law and accounting (CPA or certified financial analyst). In contrast, real estate sales requires only a license to do business, the right relationships and no real selling skills if you are in a hot market. If someone with a broker's license brings you into the business, you can work under the umbrella of that person's credentials.
I look askance at the stated prospects for attorneys, however. There have been many mergers between big law firms and as a result, many lay-offs. From a former employee of a very prestigious law firm who was let go six or seven years ago and eventually started her own boutique firm, those who venture out on their own can encounter stiff competition in certain legal specialties. Welcome to the new normal. Below are the small businesses that on average have the healthiest profit margins.
Business Net profit margin
Accounting / Bookkeeping 18.4%
Landlords 17.9 %
Legal services 17.4 %
Management of companies 16.0 %
Real estate sales 14.9 %
Dentist's office 14.8 %
Health practitioners (chiropractors, etc) 13.0 %
Medical & diagnostic laboratories 12.1 %
Automotive equipment rental or leasing 12.0 %
Graphic and industrial design 11.4%
Warehousing & storage 11.0 %
Management, scientific, or technical consulting 10.3 %
Thanks for reading,
Kim L. Clark is an external strategy and marketing consultant who brings agile skills to the for-profit and not-for-profit organization leaders with whom she works. To learn how you can ensure that mission-critical goals are achieved at your organization, please visit http://polishedprofessionalsboston.com
By Kim L. Clark
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Social Media expert Rebekah Radice joins Go Creative Show host Ben Consoli to discuss how to use social media to build your brand and get more work.