NEW YORK -- With employers cutting thousands of jobs each month, many downsized workers decide to start businesses. The transition can be daunting.
Starting a business punctured a few myths George Stahl had heard.
"A lot of people think that if you own your own business, you can set your own hours. I think that's the biggest falsehood you run into," said Stahl. He started a construction and contracting business in Troy, Mich., a few months ago after losing his job running a program to teach business to inner city youths.
Like many new entrepreneurs, Stahl discovered that he has to do tasks that, while integral parts of owning a business, are peripheral to its core operation. Running GCS Enterprises means he's the main salesman, lead installer on many jobs and accountant.
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"It's a time management thing, where my job is no longer 9 to 5. When I wake up in the morning, I'm working," he said.
Stahl said it has taken some adjustment to get used to the absence of a steady paycheck.
"I'll complete a job and a lot of times, it's 60 to 90 days out till I get paid for it," he said. "It's definitely taught me to budget wisely."
But that's not to say there aren't great joys and rewards from starting a company soon after being laid off.
"I've been able to help out a lot of people as well," he said, noting that he's hired friends who were laid off from white-collar jobs. "They're keeping their houses, their cars. They're not worried about what the next day is going to come to."
Many new entrepreneurs feel the stress of waiting for the business to take off. But sudden success, while a blessing, can mean plenty of worry.
T. Shawn Taylor expected the process of starting a business to take time, so she let her nanny go after she was laid off from the Chicago Tribune in 2005. But a few weeks later, she was so busy with freelance work that she had to scramble for child care.
Her business, Treetop Consulting Inc., is a writing, speaking and communications firm. "The challenge is handling so many different clients," she said.
Taylor has so much work she's thinking of hiring help, but the idea "keeps me up at night sometimes."
"I really want highly skilled people who are ready to go," she said. But the people who would be her first choice have journalism jobs. She's considered hiring interns, but "I don't have time to get somebody up to speed."
Taylor has run into a challenge many new businesses face -- managing cash flow.
"I did work and waited for people to pay me. It was frustrating," she said.
She decided to have some clients, particularly small businesses who were new clients, pay her upfront. She bills some larger clients every two weeks.
For Andy Gelsey, the challenges have been more psychic. He was laid off in 2007 from a manufacturing business, was having little success finding a job in depressed Detroit and started Smokey's DogHouse Treats, which he runs out of his home.
Gelsey said he realized he was working not only for himself, but by himself.
Without bosses or co-workers, Gelsey found, "There's no one else to pat you on the back and say, 'Good job!' "
All of this made it hard for Gelsey to feel motivated.
He said he built a support system, starting with his wife.
"Unless you have the support of your family or your partner, you're not going to succeed," he said.