Out on Your Own?
By Robert Holt
How to Evaluate the Resources You’ll Need.
You’ve just been "downsized." Perhaps your
company closed or you have put your twenty years in and decided
to take the severance and move on. What do you do now?
Have you considered going out on your own? It has never been
easier. Technological advancements have helped make the ability
to run your own company within reach. The use of e-mail, faxes
and enhanced phone systems make the job much easier. In fact,
all of the work can be done from a "virtual office"
at a home office.
1. Get the Technology
You will need a new computer and printer of course, and you
also may wish to get:
• Palm Pilot, for contacts and appointments
• Notebook computer, for traveling to appointments
• Fax/printer/scanner combo to save space
• Phone system with multiple lines – you will
need a separate line for faxes and also for speaking directly
to debtors on behalf of A/R outsourcing clients.
2.You Will Also Need Software
• An office suite, either Microsoft Office or Word Perfect
• A contact management package (ACT! or Goldmine, for
example) to set your schedule and compile mailing lists
• A collection program, either one of the canned packages
or you may use Act! or Goldmine for this.
3. Consider the Corporate Structure
Speak with your attorney/accountant. You may want to go with
an "S" corporation or LLC. This would help to insulate
you from potential suits.
4. Get Insurance
You will need general liability insurance to protect from
loss of documents, damage, and theft. Professional bonding
may be appropriate. You may also wish to consider Errors and
Omissions insurance. This is insurance for professionals (accountants,
attorneys) to cover mistakes made on behalf of clients. You
are an independent professional Credit Manager now. You are
in essence "hanging out the shingle." Get the appropriate
insurance, bonding, and corporate structure.
5. Who Do You Know?
Over the years, you’ve probably met people from all
walks of life:
• Colleagues at NACM or other trade credit association
• Industry group colleagues
• Other professional organizations
It’s time to tap into your network. You may find that
many people who have come to know you over the years respect
your work and integrity and want to help you succeed. They
may be only too willing to assist in your efforts and even
give you some business.
You will probably need to check any non-compete agreements
that you signed with your prior employer. Don’t run
away from this, use it. Explain what you are doing, and offer
to help with the transition to your successor. Never burn
any bridges; your prior employer could be your best referral
Also, you will need to market yourself and your new company.
Join a professional networking organization, such as Business
Network International. This is a group whose sole purpose
is to pass qualified referrals to each other, backed by a
local and national support system. Another quality group is
your local Chamber of Commerce or other business owners association.
Go to all of the meetings. Get your name and face out there.
Follow up on leads. Help others in your network sphere. Your
colleagues will remember you and will want to refer business
to a quality individual.
6. What Type of Work?
Here are some options:
• Operate as the credit manager for a few different
companies. Many firms may be too small to have a full time
credit manager. They still, however, need the assistance that
a credit manager can give. The credit manager acts as the
"Gatekeeper" to protect from loss. Some smaller
firms may need this more than their larger, more experienced
• Act as the Collection Manager or Collector. Most small
companies do not get the best person for this job. Often the
Administrative Assistant will also occa sionally make collection
calls. They usually do not have the experience, inclination
or desire to do this kind of work. Many of us that thrive
on collections do so because it is a talent not blessed on
• Consulting. Many small-to-medium sized companies have
no clue about credit & collections. Your expertise can
be invaluable. With a credit & collections department
process review, you can conduct a study of the entire process,
including order processing, reference checking, credit checking
& analysis, and collections. The end result will be a
report highlighting concerns, recommendations & suggestions.
A third-party review of policies & procedures can be a
big help to ensure that this is being handled efficiently.
The independence that is provided by running your own company
can be an invaluable source of pride and accomplishment. It
is not for everyone; many prefer the security of corporate
employment. The hours can be long and disjointed. Failures
occur. But it can also be the best career move you have ever
made. Give it a shot, it has never been easier.
Robert Holt, President, Baltimore
Credit & Collection Services, Inc., started BCCS in
1997. He can be reached at on the web at www.bccs2.com,
via e-mail at RHolt@bccs2.com or at 410-549-6444, x201.