Helpful Resources on Making a Career Change
Career Transition – the Great Escape
More and more people are transitioning out of traditional careers to take the leap into entrepreneurship. The desire to control one’s own time and success, to work from anywhere, to follow passions instead of dollar signs and a host of other reasons are pushing people out the corporate door into career change with lives of freedom. The transition process isn’t the same for everyone as the determining factors can be different from one person to the next.
While some have the resources readily available to enable them to make a quick transition, and others have had professions that translate more easily into their own business platforms, many must work their dream as a side hustle for a time while they build it into a sustainable (and profitable!) business.
Considering your specific situation, what are some things to think about when considering your own exit strategy from the rat race?
What can/should you be doing NOW to prepare for your NEXT?
I retired in January 2018 after more than 25 years working for the Federal Government. I knew years ago that there was passion work waiting for me, but it took all that time for it to start to become a reality. First, my primary passion is motivating and helping people and I had to figure out what that could look like as a business.
Though I was rarely passionate about the work I did for the Government, I always had a good work ethic and found jobs that I liked enough that I performed well and, over time, earned a good salary.
I knew that making the same type of my money in my own business would take time and persistent effort so I did not rush to branch out on my own. Instead, I put together a plan in the same way that I coach my clients at Real Life True You.
Proper planning over time has allowed me the space to prepare adequately for my “next” to ensure that I set myself up for long-term success. Here are things that you need to do to successfully plan your own transition.
Pinpoint Your Target Area
Lots of us carry around great ideas for a long time. There may be interests that we’ve dabbled in since we were younger like art, make-up, decorating, cooking… whatever it may be. Just because you’ve done something for a long time, and you may even be good at it, doesn’t mean it will automatically translate to a real business.
There are so many moving parts to consider:
- What will your specific product or service be?
- How will you market it?
- And most importantly, how exactly will it convert to dollars in your bank account?
You must develop the mindset of a business owner with a bottom line and a specific plan to get there. That will require sustained focus on one “thing,” at least initially, to build on.
To help you narrow your options, first consider the corporate work you’ve done.
- Is that something you could turn into a business?
- Can you start a side hustle doing that same type of work, maybe as a consultant, for example, until you have enough of a client base to step out on your own?
The point is, you have to determine what your business model will be, whether it’s something you can slide into from previous experience or whether it’s something you have to build from the ground up.
Research, Research, Research!
Once you have decided on your intended business, your next step is to research. Educate yourself on every possible aspect of that business or industry.
- What are current and future trends? How are other people in the same industry making their money? Who is your target audience?
- What are untapped areas that will enable you to carve out a new niche?
Don’t make the mistake of trying to move too quickly before arming yourself with as much information as possible. Protect yourself against unwanted surprises or wasted time and money due to ignorance or lack of knowledge.
Gather all the details that you possibly can and trust that your diligence will pay off in the end.
While you’re still in your job, take advantage of all that it offers you. Is there additional training you can take advantage of and perhaps not to have to pay for it??? Maybe there’s experience that you can gain for your own personal use by taking on an extra project.
Also, while you have a steady income, use your salary as seed money for your dream. Scale back your lifestyle as much as possible while you have a full-time salary so you can pay for classes or certifications you might need for your business while you can afford them.
Once you’ve transitioned full-time into your business and have a bottom line to worry about, it will be to your benefit to have as few up-front costs as possible, especially if there’s a credential, for example, that you need in your chosen business. And after you’ve scaled back your spending, SAVE!
It goes without saying that saving as much money as possible while you’re in the position to do so will only help you. Build as much of a nest egg as possible to give yourself a cushion to fall back on when you finally cut the corporate cord.
You can also learn or brush up on some soft skills when you’re still in the corporate environment. Find a mentor. It doesn’t even have to be a formal arrangement but identify someone you can learn from. Figure out what you think makes them successful.
What do you like about his or her management style and how he/she interacts with people? Even pay attention to bad managers as there is no better way to learn what NOT to do as a leader or business owner and potential future manager. Don’t underestimate what you can learn in any job that may help you in your future endeavors.
Finally, while you’re on the job be at your absolute best. Develop a strong work ethic and excel at any assignments or responsibilities given to you. Be on time every day, be trustworthy – all the things that make you a good employee because they are indicative of the character traits you will take with you into your business. You are the same person at your core regardless of position so make sure now that you are someone that others will want to do business with later!
It’s a Mind Thing
The last bits of advice I’ll offer about planning a transition out of a career into a dream are about mindset. What you want to do very early in your process is to treat yourself like a business owner. Remember from day one that you are building a business, even before anybody is fully aware of what you’re doing, so that you yourself take it seriously.
Be disciplined about your planning time and process so those things are firmly established and transition with you into your business. It may mean less social time or long hours of working but the same will likely be the case when you have transitioned fully into your business. Especially in the early days. Create the habits and behaviors NOW that will contribute to your later success!
Finally, develop an attitude of persistence. Some of the most successful businesses are the result of years and multiple attempts before success became a reality. The most successful entrepreneurs understand that each “failure” is really an opportunity to learn necessary lessons to keep moving forward and doing things better.
To use Thomas Edison’s words: “I have not failed. I have found a thousand ways that don’t work.” But guess what? For those thousand, there are countless ways that WILL work! Success is well within your reach if you pace yourself and close the gap between what you know and what you NEED to know.
Make your transition process a time of preparation so when you are met with the doors of opportunity, you’re ready and able to kick them down like the boss that you were always meant to be. Decide who you want to be right now and then consistently show up as that person every time!
Kimberly Blount is the owner of Real Life True You Coaching Services where she stresses the power of self-awareness and focus. Focusing within helps her clients interact better with the people and world around them. Her motto is “Live Real, Be You” which often is only possible as a result of true introspection and personal inner work.
On her blog, www.reallifetrueyou.com, Kim writes about a number of topics related to personal development. Kim has 25 years experience with the Federal Government, working with top government agencies before retiring in 2018. She is now pursuing her passion to help people maximize their potential to create lives that most closely represent who they are as individuals. As a coach and mentor she is living her best life in Maryland with her husband and two sons.