Mid-life career change doesn’t always mean moving to a new job. Many people successfully find new, satisfying jobs as they reach their fifties and sixties. However, you can empower yourself by reducing your reliance on the job market and the whims of employers.
Starting a business can seem scary (and it should). Unfortunately, media stories tend to escalate those fears. The truth is, even if 90% of all businesses fail, many of those businesses are *first* businesses. Many people learn from their failures and go on to become successful.
In any case, the twentieth century ideal of a “job with benefits” may not be a realistic option for many of us. If you’re happily employed now, it’s a good idea to begin getting ready for entrepreneurship. Even if you never need those skills to start a business, you will be a stronger contributor as a corporate executive or manager.
(1) Discuss your plans only with trusted advisors who are not connected to your current company.
(2) Leverage your company’s resources. You might not want to use the tuition plan to pay for coach training or entrepreneurship, but you can grab lots of training in skills like speaking, WordPress, HTML, graphics, finance and more.
(3) If at all possible, begin by taking courses on entrepreneurship and small business at low-cost community colleges; some will be more valuable than others but you’ll begin to get in the groove. You’ll meet other business owners and get inspired by their energy.
(4) Investigate your local Small Business Association (SBA) and talk to a business advisor. These seminars and advisors vary dramatically in quality. Some people said they’re useless but I know others who built a whole business just with SBA advice.
(5) You should be able to get a business plan together with a course or SBA consultation. You can use your start-up funds to get the business going with a website and other marketing tools.
(6) Hang out with other business owners. If you’re in a city with a coworking space (google coworking + your city) find time to work there when you can. (I’m a member of Philadelphia’s IndyHall and can also recommend Benjamin’s Desk here.) These spaces extend the idea of working in a coffee shop: you pay to spend a day or several days with your laptop and notes. You don’t have to keep moving and it’s safe to leave your computer while you go for a break.
If you work at home occasionally, take your laptop and spend a day. Most coworking spaces have evening or weekend events for members and sometimes their guests.
Coworking people are friendly! They’ll give you lots of informal help and most important, you’ll get a sense of what works.
(7) Don’t be surprised if your entrepreneurial endeavors turn into a corporate job. You’ll be more confident and poised when you’re facing an interviewer. You’ll also impress someone who hired you for a project when the company’s HR department might have deep-sixed your resume.
Some people are relieved when they get a corporate offer; others value their independence.
Of course I’m happy to work with you also, to evaluate options and come up with a plan that helps you reach your definition of success. When time is tight and you can comfortably invest in one-to-one consulting, often this step makes sense to move faster and reach a happier goal. Click here to learn more.