For many mid-career professionals, a Second (or third or fourth) Career turns out to be a business. If your industry disappears, you’re leaving a high-profile job, or you’ve risen through the ranks, self-employment can be your most realistic option.
While you’re working for an organization, it’s never too early to start asking, “What will I if my job goes away – or I decide to run away from my career?” Once you begin moving in this direction – even in a small way – you’ll most likely develop momentum and become really creative.
But – what can you do? That’s the Number 1 Challenge, my clients say.
1. Find a need. As you move through your day, listen for comments like, “I wish I had….” Or, “I wish I could find…”
Many business writers believe your first step should be finding a need — not listing your own skills. Often you recognize your own needs first. Many businesses have begun when someone said, “I wish I could find someone to…” And a service was created soon afterward.
2. Look for opportunities when a marketplace changes.
In Silver City, New Mexico, where I live now, some old-timers can’t bring themselves to pay three dollars for coffee “with stuff in it.” Ten years ago, they tell me, they washed their own dogs and mowed their own lawns. Today, people from New York, California and Chicago want double-shot lattes, dog groomers and lawn care services – and they expect to pay.
Nationally, career marketplace has changed, as displaced executives recognize that career change skills differ from career growth skills. I find senior managers increasingly seek career consulting – and they’re very direct about what they want.
And some companies have moved their creative work in-house, adding jobs for writers and designers. But others have cut back on permanent staff and now use more freelancers.
3. Focus on delivery and demand.
When clients consider starting a business – even going into freelancing – they begin with, “Where do I get startup capital?” and “What kind of licenses and insurance will I need?” These questions are critical – but the answers will be straightforward.
Your real challenge is to identify a market that will pay for what you have to offer. Once you’ve identified the market, you have to decide how you’ll build relationships and deliver services. You may have a brilliant idea that uses your unique skills – but nobody wants to pay.
Or you may find a creative way to deliver a mundane service. In his latest book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell describes an accountant who found financial success selling donuts to offices, collecting money through an honor system.
Bottom Line: When considering a new business venture, your first question should be, “Is there a market – that is, a large number of people who are able and willing to buy? Do they need something that is not yet available?”
Once you get excited about reaching a market, the insurance, taxes and licensing chores begin to seem manageable – even effortless. You’ll find ways to make it all happen.
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