Learn about Small Business Types and Being Self-Employed

What is a particular small business like? What will it demand of me? How much will I earn? How well will it match my knowledge, skills, and personality? Here are five ways of answering questions like these.

  1. Interview people who have a business like the one you are considering. Of course, since you are a potential competitor, they may be unwilling to talk with you. And if they do, they may be cautious in what they say, or even mislead you. Nevertheless, it is worth the effort. You may try contacting business owners that are geographically distant enough from you to eliminate you as a potential competitor. Another option is to find a business owner whose business is similar in type to yours, but not a competitor.
    For example, if you are considering starting a franchise in rental cars, try contacting a franchisee in rental moving trucks or equipment rental. Experiences in handling inventory, personnel, and maintenance costs may be similar. Visit the Career Key website for more tips on conducting an information interview.
  2. Study the occupations you identify when you take the Career Key Self-Employment assessment and entrepreneur test. Click on each one, and you will learn about them from the best source, the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). You can also identify more matching career options at the Career Key website.
  3. Explore these U.S. DOL Bureau of Labor Statistics resources: Overview of Employment Projections (especially the information on growth industries), and the OOH's recommended Sources of Career Information.
  4. The Small Business Administration's Business Types is a good place to start for basic information about categories of businesses. Sections on self-employed and independent contractors, and writing a business plan will generate topics for you to focus on in information interviews and business networking. Finding an SBA/SCORE mentor near you can also help.
  5. Learn about self-employment's impact on your personal finances in areas like health insurance, taxes, buying a home, and saving for retirement. Informational interviews with actual business owners (as recommended above) and visiting websites like those listed in our Self-Employed Resources section are a great start.