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"Midpreneurship": the contracting option.

Choosing something other than a permanent 9 to 5 job is an increasingly popular option with professionals

The role of the self employed professional who works on a contract basis is expanding in Canada. Ron Scott, Partner with Peat Marwick Stevenson & Kellogg, Calgary, AB, reports that its 1992 Career Transition Research Report indicated that "28% of the professionals in their Career Centre accepted contract positions". A further "19% set up their own business" -- a total of "47% chose other than permanent jobs".

Midpreneurship, the midpoint between corporate Canada's position security and full entrepreneurship is here to stay.

The world of work choices:

* Permanent jobs;

* Temporary jobs;

* Job share positions.


Contract work

* Setting up your Own Business;

* Consulting.

The turbulent 80's with their massive downsizing created an insecure workforce. The message became clear, "You can't depend on a company for your career security". Betting on yourself became a safer alternative. Hence, the freedom of contracting became appealing.

Secondly, the demand for contract services continues to grow. There has been structural change in how businesses staff their organizations. Permanent core employees are decreasing and term specific contractors are growing. Companies that require 1,000 permanent positions for example, are looking to a proportion of 800 permanent core employees and 20% term specific contractors.

A professional who is looking at the contracting career option is faced with determining how they want to operate:

1. Employee/employer relationship;

2. Self-employed contractor;

3. Incorporated contractor;

4. Through a contract service company.

Issues of third party liability, ableness to provide workers compensation and income tax minimization need to be considered when choosing which of the four levels of contracting to choose.

Since contractors essentially guarantee competent work which carries liability for performance, they must have a clear contract in writing. Essential elements in such a contract would be:

* Scope of the work and expectations;

* Term of the contract;

* Compensation for time and expenses;

* Terms of payment;

* Reporting relationship;

* Confidentiality of data and materials;

* Liability, workers compensation coverage;

* Indemnity-hold harmless;

* Termination of contract.

Assuming the liability of a contractor by taking on a verbal contract would be foolish and could put your personal assets at risk should there be a third party claim.

In a contracting research study in 1991 undertaken by Peat Marwick Stevenson & Kellogg in Calgary, it showed that how contractors are paid has changed dramatically. The respondent companies in the energy industry stated that contractors should set their fees to include: Salary value of the work, plus a benefit replacement factor of 25 - 30%, plus Overhead (generally 10%).

No longer are contractors paid for salary value only.

A successful midpreneur will have drive, good thinking ability, strong human relations skills, good communication skills and very sound technical knowledge.

What do you need to do to be a successful midpreneur.

1. Concentrate on the field that you know well, and one that interests you -- or better yet -- one that fascinates you. In other words, stick to your knitting.

2. Ensure that you have the "people support" that you will need. Whether this is a spouse or various advisors and professionals to provide counsel.

3. Have sufficient money. And more importantly know where to get more of it when you need it.

4. Develop an effective marketing plan that addresses all the key issues.

5. Ensure that you get good sound accounting, financial, and legal advice.

If after weighing the positives and negatives you decide to go into the midpreneurial field, the chances of success are good. If you're persistent and ingenious, and your contracting business goes well, you will probably state "all those years in an office, I felt as if I was being stifled, this is like coming home".

When asked why they choose contract work, most will say "because I have more control on my career". It is safer for me".

Effective Job Search Strategies

During the Calgary seminar, Scott also made presentations on Entrepreneurship -- Your Own Business and Effective Job Search Strategies: A Renewed Career Focus. In the latter, this is the type of outline he presented.

* Know your external marketplace: in general and in your own area of expertise.

* Self-assessment and career planning exercise

-- Inventory of strengths, aptitudes, preferences and behavior;

-- Your ideal position in the new world to work;

-- Reality check of career goals and objectives.

* Resume development

-- resumes as a promotional tool;

-- other alternatives.

* Marketing plan

-- research on career targets;

-- strategy development and implementation.

* Job hunting strategies and techniques

-- networking strategy (approaching contacts in the "hidden job" market;

-- responding to advertisements;

-- approaching search firms/employment agencies;

-- developing effective telephone skills.

* Interviewing

-- Interviewing skills learned and developed;

-- video practice and feedback;

-- coaching/counselling on presentation style.

* Negotiating the new job

-- Review, analysis and evaluation of all job offers in relation to the ideal position.

* Staying hired.

As Scott noted: if it is to be, it is up to me.

Ron Scott is a Partner with the Career Consultancy Practice, Peat Marwick Stevenson & Kellogg, Calgary, AB. This text is based on a presentation he made in February 1992 at a Professional Transitions seminar organized by the Calgary Section, CSChE.
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Author:Scott, Ron
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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