In a tough economy, some create their own jobs

FRESNO, Calif.

The lack of jobs may have influenced those numbers, but in the case of a Fresno man, it was also one great idea.

Chris Chapin, 61, will tell you he has visited nearly every car dealership in Fresno making his pitch to managers such as Mark Sasser of Lithia Ford. But there was something about Chapin's product that made Sasser sit up and listen.

"The sun visor extender actually offers more protection and is designed in such a way that a business card is in place so it's designed as a promotional product that does something useful."

It's a simple idea, that came from Chris's own personal experience -- driving down the highway with the sun's blinding rays and realizing his car's sun visor isn't providing enough protection.

"I've been thinking about this product for years, in fact I made it in a different material years ago," said Chapin.

He has carried around the idea for at least ten years, but Chapin says getting laid off from his job gave him the motivation to finally go for it.

"I started realizing that I can't depend on somebody else I need to come up with my own business model and I need to have something to sale."

The lack of jobs has fostered the entrepreneurial spirit in a lot of people. Rich Mostert with the Central Valley Business Incubator says he sees it on a daily basis, and he has this advice for anyone looking to start a business now. "The most important thing is to really do a critical analysis of is there truly a market for what you want to do, do you have the capacity to do it, do you have the ability to find the customer, source them out, make sure your product or services is something they want to buy.

Mostert says these are all steps Chris Chapin has taken. Chapin has spent the last two years perfecting his product and listening to people in the automotive business and taking their advice. "Chris took a lot of the things I had to say about the way we do business and he added them into his product," said Sasser.

Chapin is now at the critical stage of trying to launch his product. He needs capital, and according to Mostert the lack of funding can kill any business plan. "And the problem with somebody in the position of being unemployed and trying to start a business is usually issues affecting their ability to acquire capital or to have any capital to invest in the business.

That said, he believes Chapin has a good chance of getting his product to the marketplace. The budding entrepreneur is excited about where he is, but he says it would be foolish for him to put all of his eggs in one basket. That's why he continues to look for a job. "This takes a long time so don't quit your day job if you have an option."

If you don't have the money, Mostert suggest that you start small maybe with a hobby you are currently doing on the side and slowly build that into a money making venture.


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