A recurring conversation in my life is with fresh college grads who are trying to figure out career trajectory, grad school, finding a plain old JOB, etc. Often they say with earnest enthusiasm, "I just want to do what you do!"
I do my best to smile supportively, and ask them why. They answer with some variation of "it-seems-so-interesting-and-I-don't-want-to-get-stuck-in-a-dead-end-job"
and I try to gently remind them that it is helpful to actually have EXPERIENCE before trying to be a consultant...
But then when old friends want to find out how I got started in this new direction, I have a different conversation. It's a longer story but it's definitely a one-thing-led-to-another sort of thing. I was certainly LOOKING with intentionality (and no small amount of prayer) as to what I could be doing when I decided to embark on a major mid-life career change at the age of 47. I reached out to people who were working in fields I was interested in, and a one-thing-led-to-another-thing kicked in.
Nevertheless, in hindsight I could have really done a better job preparing myself. I now try to help clients do that.So if you have some ideas and yearnings and restlessness percolating, I would say these resources really speak to my own experience, and will get you started. Perhaps the best first step is to make sure you know how to spell
How to Get Your Side Hustle Off the Ground
. I am not fond of the term "side hustle," but there ya have it. Apart from that, this article has some solid bits of advice. The first point the author makes is absolute gold:
Aspiring side hustlers will often fret that they don’t have the money to design a fancy logo or website, or get hung up on whether to incorporate as an S-Corporation or an LLC. In the early stages of your business, those are the wrong things to be worrying about. While it’s true that successful businesses do eventually need to have nice websites and proper legal structures, those are complex and expensive steps that can bog you down initially. You first need to determine whether you even have a business — meaning, do customers want what you’re offering?
I respond with a resounding YES and a fist-pump to this. The branding and social media can evolve later, even though they can be fun daydreaming distractions. Instead, focus on the blueprint itself, not the paint and carpet. As for the rest of the article, I especially want to underscore the third one as well: Diminishing commitment.
Don't get started if you're aren't able and willing to chip away doggedly. I started the process in Winter 2009, had viable (read, "I wasn't starving") income by Fall 2009, but wasn't really financially and professionally established till December 2012. That's right -- THREE years. Buckle up!
Can You Afford to Change Your Career?
An equally crucial piece of the puzzle. I had saved about four months of lost income when I launched out. I wish I'd had at least six months' worth saved; it would have saved me some big-time worrying.
This article gets realistic in all the right ways. To practice living on the new income is great advice. It suggests where to cut expenses, and I couldn't agree more. I took on a "Year of Simplicity," where I ended magazine subscriptions, bought no gifts or new clothes, and did not eat out. It was an important discipline and I grew a great deal personally through it.
I have the financial advantage of being single, so no one else had to suffer the consequences of my decisions (other than some friends who didn't receive gifts from me that year!) Again, this article walks through some important scenarios. Take the time to talk it all through with your significant others - sheer adrenaline does not last as long as we'd like it to.
Entrepreneurship Myths: Why You Likely Won’t Be Rich and Famous
I think I like this podcast most because the woman being interviewed had such a great story! First of all, she's written a book with a really great title: Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home)
that examines some of the myths around entrepreneurship.
She's also coined an attention-getting term: "entrepreneurship porn."
This is how she explains it:
“I think that the media and business schools have created this very glossy sense that life as an entrepreneur is somehow better. This is why I call it porn.”
The podcast, though only 20 minutes long, spends some time talking through extroversion vs introversion and work flow in terms of how you might make it work as an entrepreneur.. Personally, I have found that StrengthsFinder
is a tremendous tool for assessing such things, coupled with some work around emotional intelligence. This is what I spent a lot of time working on with my clients now, and the core fundamentals were learned as I walked through my own experience.
The podcast also provides some harsh realities regarding the financial implications of pursuing entrepreneurship. I have to admit, this would have been really
hard for me to hear at the time I was going through it because I didn't really have the option of taking the leap or not. Plain and simple, it was time to make a change.
There are certainly a zillion and one stories on the interwebs about side hustles, the gig economy, "makerspaces" and "hacklabs." WHATEVER
. Speaking from experience, the three resources listed here get down to the core basics of what it really takes to get started at the most fundamental level. I will be curious to hear from you if you are feeling the itch to go for it. Good luck and Godspeed!