In 2003, I was sitting in traffic on the Belt Parkway in New York City days before Christmas, traveling to my "perfectly secure" full-time job at one of the largest credit card companies in the world when I received the call. It was my supervisor calling on my StarTAC analog cell phone, while on "roaming" (out of area calls were not included at the time), to request my immediate presence in the conference room. I parked my car and took a deep breath to get ready for the bad news. 

"I am so sorry Carol, but we are reassigning the entire department to an outside facility to cut costs and improve our margins," my supervisor said.

I listened to him, in his custom Armani suit, in shock, as I began to calculate how to make my upcoming rent payment. I was given a two-month grace period, and a small severance package with a $50 gift card to Target. Our 17-member team was in shock as we started to pack our desks.

I made a non-negotiable decision that day to end the repetitive cycle of being a disposable employee. It was a difficult decision to go from an onboarding package, with profit sharing, paid holidays, and medical benefits, to full-time entrepreneurship; however, it was my second company shutdown in two years, which also affected my credit. I suffered a bevy of late payments to my creditors, not with malicious intent; I simply did not have the money. Very few creditors were sympathetic -- they simply demanded payment. 

Meanwhile, I was operating a business as a side hustle to have extra money during the holidays, but my last layoff created a level of urgency to create my own economy, while employing the best team to help me grow the company.

Most employers do not think about the lives that are impacted by the effects of collective bargaining. Employees become casualties during the process, and the security of basic needs such as groceries, rent or mortgage, child care, and transportation will be impacted. The government shutdown is a perfect example of how the lives of 800,000 American families can become such casualties. 

From a walkout or strike to a shutdown, it can create a personal financial collapse. Participating in the gig economy may not be enough to get back on track. However, a solid business model will create a level of financial stability if you leverage high-quality partnerships, an effective team, and nonstop marketing. The shutdown reminded me of my decision in 2003, and I'm thankful that I committed to the process and never turned back to corporate America for stability.

There are three ways you can get started.

1. Invest in a company that has a consistent performance portfolio.

This is a guaranteed way to generate revenue from your initial investment. If you have a source of financing, you may also consider the acquisition of a small franchise or an equity position in a solid company. Consult an attorney to create the bylaws for your investment and get ready to negotiate your ROI. 

2. Invest in or back a founder.

Invest in a founder, who may have a larger portfolio of successful exits from high-growth concepts. Consider networking or visiting an accelerator to connect with founders who are raising capital. Consult an attorney to draft and file an agreement to protect your investment and outline the milestones for such consideration. 

3. Start your own business.

Monetize your strengths and turn it into a business. From a private advisory to a retail business, the possibilities are endless. Take the time to test the demand for your product or service with your target market, and then get started! Consider onboarding a co-founder who has specific leadership strengths to achieve your goals faster. 

Published on: Jan 8, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.