By C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.
If you can't find a satisfactory job, but don't want to make the leap to full self-employment, there is a sort of half-way status between employment and small business. Here are three ways others have solved the problem:
If you work through a temporary or staffing agency, you technically are an employee of the agency, but you do your actual work for and on the premises of one the agency's clients. Also remember this: despite it being called "temporary," temp work can be fairly lengthy, with many assignments lasting for years. Furthermore, it is a well-established practice to try out employees as temps but later hire them as full-timers.
I especially want to note that one of the many advantages of temping is that you may get hired fast, because temp jobs represent an employer's immediate need. It's the major reason many temps choose it in the first place. You could literally walk into a temp agency in the morning and be placed in a job by afternoon. It all depends upon what is your field of work.
You aren't your own boss, as in self-employment, but you also don't have to think about DBA's, self-employment taxes, licenses or permits. You do have more freedom, however, since you can turn down jobs you don't think you'll like or ask to be reassigned by the agency when you've taken a bad assignment. If you learn to like temp work, it's also a good way to make contacts that will help you later if you want to take up independent contracting or freelancing.
Independent contracting is full self-employment, complete with all the responsibilities of finding your own jobs, making your own contracts with employers, doing all the small business paperwork and taxes, providing your own benefits such as health insurance, etc.
The major advantage of it is that you get the same jobs you'd be likely to send in your resume for if you wanted to be a regular, full-time employee. But you are more likely to get the job as an independent because you've removed all those responsibilities from the employer to yourself, making it much more cost effective and far less risky for the employer. So, going head-to-head with an equally qualified job applicant, you may have the edge that gets you the job.
As with working for a temp agency, you may also find that you are eventually offered traditional employment opportunities in companies with which you contract.
Freelancing is also full self-employment with all the responsibilities of self-employment. Like temporary employment, the jobs you get are time-limited, and like independent contract employment, you usually continue to work in the same field for the same kinds of employers for whom you would work as a traditional employee.
But as a freelancer, you bid on jobs that match your skills, set your rates, control your own schedule and define your level of performance by contract.
Freelancing is one of those lovely opportunities that you can seek while still employed in a traditional job. You can do freelance assignments that you fit into your other work schedule until you have enough work to quit the day job.
Any of the above types of employment/self-employment can ease your transition to full-time entrepreneurship. Remember, though, that in contract employment and in freelancing, there are some serious legal considerations, especially in writing up contracts. It's always worthwhile to consult professionals such as attorneys and accountants when starting out.