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Home > Green News > Editorials

Self Employed Options for Success and Sustainable Community

Self employment is as American as apple pie! And just as productive, tasty and sustainable.

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"Green" has become part of our everyday vocabulary, even if it isn't high on the priorities of the majority of our citizens...yet. But as information and concern about changing earthly conditions are learned, more people are taking actions -- personally and in their businesses and communities. Green and sustainable communities grow hand in hand...or seed in soil!

That's where self employment options come in.

Small businesses are the main engine of innovation and local services in our country. Many self employed people work out of their homes and in conjunction with their families ... and friends.

Official Self Employment Options

In the United States, a person is considered self-employed for tax purposes if that person is running a business as a sole proprietorship, independent contractor, as a partner in a partnership, or as a member of a limited liability company that does not elect to be treated as a corporation. In addition to income taxes, these individuals must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes in the form of a SECA (Self-Employment Contributions Act) tax.

Business Formation for Self Employment

Starting a business can be very organic -- much like a life is birthed and launched into the world -- or it can be artificially launched with venture capital funding or franchise structure, etc.

Many self-employed people get started informally, offering their talent and skills to family and friends. These early days are very much like a seed sprouting its first leaves. Skills are honed. Tools gathered. Attention begins to highlight the benefits to early supporters and customers. And someone says, "You could start a business doing this!"

And the dream is born.

Starting a Small Business

Visions of success run the gamut from a home based hobby business to a local retail operation to a national chain of shops or a global manufacturing and distribution operation. Everyone and every idea has its own "natural growth" pattern.

But it all starts with an individual with ideas, skills and talents. And a supportive community. And the drive to "do it yourself."

Once that hobby becomes a viable business, with a plan for growth and revenue, things get more complicated.

  • Local, state and federal laws might affect licensing, quality control or certifications.
  • Local governments have zoning laws that affect where you can conduct your type of business...and often require a business license.
  • Self employment tax laws affect how you report income and meet your Social Security tax obligations.
  • And after you've taken care of the "right" to do business, you have to actually conduct the business!
  • You need to develop your product or service and understand how your customers will want to buy it, use it, and benfit from it.
  • You need to balance your costs of doing business with pricing that your customers are willing to pay.
  • You need to get the word out to your community that you have goods and/or services that will benefit them.
  • And you need to actually DELIVER the goods or services...and take in the money.
  • And pay your bills.
  • And pay yourself.

Benefits of Self Employment

I've often heard people say that "all life is a stage" and "business is a game" and many other cliches and slogans. But there's nothing as compelling, inspiring, or challenging as being self employed! You can work almost 24/7 -- even dreaming about your mission! You never doubt the value of your idea....yeah, right!!!

Yes, there are many doubts, problems to overcome, strategies to try, and occasionally, real, hard-earned harvests to celebrate.

Some people say that one motivation for self employment is that you will never get fired again. Wrong. Your customers can fire you at the drop of a hat. And you then have to go out and apply all over again for new customers. The process is much the same. People are fickle, and times change, and you have to change with the times. All those cliches are true at one time or another.

Leaders of Sustainable Community

The benefits of millions of small businesses rooted in local communities vs. a few multinational conglomerates is that we have resiliency and stability in our local communities. We know and work with our neighbors and can help one another when the need arises. That role of local businesses is overlooked when everything is running smoothly -- but whenever there is a disaster, you will see business people pitching in and even taking charge -- self employed business leaders who have honed their organizing and resiliency skills in the heat of building their business.

There's much more to building a business than making money. There's self development of your personal leadership and maturity. There's building camaraderie and friendships. There's innovation and craftsmanship. There's knowledge and respect for limitede local natural resources. There's confidence, and pride in good work completed for good friends.

If you are interested in self employment, there's a need, and hope, even in difficult economic times. The secret is discovering the overlap of your unique strengths and what your community needs and wants. That is your secret sauce!

And that's your sustainable community's sweet spot!



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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