Beating the Job Hunt

Mary Shearer always dreamed of owning her own store. Despite a recession, she decided to become her own employer and opened up Twisted Olive. The downtown Naperville store sells 40 kinds of olive oil and balsamic vinegars. Now the store has been open for one year, and Shearer is through the year experts say is hardest on a new business.

“I have my goal set for Christmas. We should be probably breaking even very soon, which is really a big deal,” said Shearer. “If you can say that in retail, it’s a big deal.”

Last September, officials with the National Bureau of Economic Research declared the end of the Great Recession. But the nation’s unemployment rate hasn’t seen a drastic change since last fall. Experts say those who find themselves searching for jobs should consider self-employment.

“You just have to think of what marketable skills do I have, or what marketable skills can I create or educate myself to do to become my own boss and to open up my own company,” says Gary Ernst, Professor Emeritus of International Business and Marketing at North Central College.

Ernst says the key to creating your own business is finding an unmet or underserved need in your community, like an olive oil store, or a chiropractor who sets humans and their pets.

Husband and wife Paul Nottoli and Erin O’Connor opened Vitality Chiropractic Center last October just after the recession ended. They wanted to work together to create a chiropractic center that served the entire family. They’ve spent the last nine months getting the word out about their business.

“We’re starting to be involved in the community and word of mouth and people are starting to talk about us,” said Nottoli. “As you build more patients and they improve their health, they tell people and that’s how it gets around town.”

Getting the word out about a new company is just one step towards making a business thrive.

“Competency, understanding your market, giving customers fair price or good value for their dollar, will generally always be a solid success story of a self-employed person or an entrepreneur,” says Ernst.

And Shearer, Nottoli, and O’Connor hope that their businesses will become those success stories.

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