HSU Hosts Furlough Self-Employment Sessions

Aug 28, 2009

Arcata – Humboldt State University will host a series of brown bag lunches in coming weeks to acquaint staff and faculty with entrepreneurial opportunities to shore up lost income from unpaid furloughs.

The first noon-time session, “Convert Free Time into Working Time,” will feature Sandy Neal from the North Coast Small Business Development Center, who will explain how furloughed employees can get a small business up and running with a new product or service. The workshop will be held Wednesday, September 9, in Goodwin Forum, Nelson Hall East 102.

“There are lots of folks on campus who knit, can jam, make Christmas ornaments and do crafts and handiwork,” said Kristin Johnson, Director of the Northern California Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on campus. “With two [furlough] days off a month, they can formalize a side business and invest those days in that business.” The September 9 session will outline how to identify the right business, determine its feasibility and obtain the necessary permits and licenses.

The second noon workshop is scheduled Thursday, October 1, in the same location and will survey “Generating Revenue on eBay and craigslist.” “That’s a popular class that SBDC’s are involved with in the Bay Area, but we’ve never done them up here,” Johnson said. “Some people have buying and selling on eBay as their whole business. There are things you can make some money on if you know how, and use eBay and craigslist strategically. There are tips and tricks to maximize your profits.”

Subsequent sessions are tentatively set for Friday, October 23, and Thursday, November 12, on how to become a part-time consultant and how to secure consulting contracts, respectively. Faculty and staff will receive instruction in marketing their professional expertise outside of academe. “A lot of these folks could make more money by doing that, but they may not know how to price their services,” Johnson explained. They may also be confining themselves to pure research that is grant funded. “With furlough days,” she said, “they have the opportunity to sell that expertise for a price in the private market. A lot of consultants out there are doing that, so why not them? This class is about how to be a private consultant, how to get into that field.”

The fourth and final lunch will focus on tracking down consulting contracts. “It’s very easy to register in about 20 minutes to do business with the state of California,” Johnson said. “Most people don’t know that. Once you’re registered you can sign up for emails to receive requests for bids, consulting contracts and those sorts of things. There may also be research opportunities and grant and contract opportunities to work with [HSU’s] Sponsored Programs [Foundation].”

The self-employment lunches are a joint effort of HSU’s Office of Human Resources and the SBDC. Johnson said the initiative is a “well-rounded” effort that can serve as a model to other CSU campuses. “Even if there aren’t SBDCs on those other campuses, there are SBDCs in their communities and they would love to work with other CSUs.”

Johnson’s office and its counterparts also organize extra income for local and out-of-area students through summer internships across the state. She just wrapped up a two-month, $50,000 program for some 20 HSU students from all three colleges who were interns for 20 hours a week at SBDC offices as far south as Chula Vista. Her office financed them as the employer-of-record and Johnson hopes to expand the program next summer to include SBDC private business clients.