Should I Use My 401(k) to Find a Job or Start a Business?

Jul 29, 2020 | 0 comments

During this pandemic, you may have started weighing all your options for income — especially if you’ve been furloughed or lost your job. This includes reviewing your current reserves and assets. 

Before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( found that people out of work in January 2020 were likely to find a job in either four to six weeks or after more than three months. In January 2020, 35.1 percent of job seekers were unemployed for less than five weeks while an almost equal percentage of people were unemployed for 15 weeks or more. This was before COVID-19 had escalated.

Considering all your options and “life factors” (e.g., whether you’re married and/or have children) is essential when contemplating starting your own business or side gig. To be of assistance, here are three common questions people ask in this circumstance:

  1. How much money will I need to start?
  2. Will I be able to work full-time AND create my own business or side gig?
  3. How do I go from just an idea to creating a company?

Using a grass roots discovery approach, you can make money doing and selling almost anything. For example, check out your attic or garage for your own inventory list to sell online! 

The word “discovery” demands asking yourself questions and evaluating all aspects and job duties involved. This may include: 

  • Questioning whether this an idea that is “calling you.” Meaning, do you have a burning desire to start something on your own and believe you can do it?  Warning: When you own your own business, your beliefs will be questioned by yourself and others.
  • Knowing your strengths. Evaluating the job duties is not about whether you “think” you can do them and check them off a box. Instead ask yourself, “Are these duties I will enjoy doing” and “Are they aligned with what I do well already?”   
  • Examining your support system. It’s hard enough to start your own business, but it becomes more difficult doing it without emotional (and sometimes financial) support from family or friends when things may not be going according to plan. So ask yourself, “Do I have a reliable support system?”  

Many businesses or side gigs can be started with little (under $2,500) or no investment at all. Here are 10 ideas to inspire you: 

  1. Creating a YouTube channel
  2. Starting an affiliated blog (Joint Venture selling others’ products/services)
  3. Beginning a cleaning service 
  4. Airbnbing a room in your home
  5. Vending machines
  6. Amazon online 
  7. Painting
  8. Pet services
  9. Consulting – Create a specialty, utilize your existing industry knowledge to bridge business gaps.
  10. A 501(c)3 – Although considered a “non-profit,” you can work your way into a paying role within a social-justice cause of your own organization by accessing crowdfunding.

When considering any type of business, you should write out all the different roles and responsibilities the business demands and evaluate what duties you will need to outsource. For example, if you wanted to start a cleaning business, you’ll need to market your business by creating ads and knowing where to post them. In addition, you’ll need to keep track of your marketing efforts to determine if and/or how the money you’re investing on advertisements is working. 

You’ll also need to be available or have someone available to answer calls from people responding to your ads since prospective customers probably won’t leave a message; they’ll call your competition.  

Taking everything said into consideration, the only question left is: “What are you willing to give up in order to start your own business and/or side gig?” I’ll leave you with a quote from Henry David Thoreau that has become the determining factor for anything I want to do:

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Is it time to get serious about that side gig or fan the flame of your passion to be an entrepreneur? Then join me for Her Own Business every 1st Tuesday at 6 pm CT.

Our Her Nexx Chapter Community invites you to join us where women are connecting with each other’s stories, exploring different experiences, and transforming ideas.

The Future of Connection for Women

Jan Barlow

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