Allen Hardester was laid off from his banking job in 2006. A former bank president, he had an MBA from the elite Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He lived off his savings, his wife's salary and social security income as he tried to land a full time job. After responding to 999 job ads, he stopped. Finally, he came up with an idea to sell home improvement loans to homeowners with bad credit looking to finance things like kitchen rehabs. Two years into it, he says he now makes six figures and works when he wants. "I created my own job," as an independent loan broker.