There’s one sentence I say a lot. It’s “The definition of an expert is someone who knows the most about a particular subject in an average sized room.” Just an averaged sized room, 30 people or so.
I say it most often when people approach me and say they want to leave the corporate world and start their own business. They want to create a recurring revenue stream. This is often swiftly followed by “But I just don’t know what I would do. I don’t know enough about anything.”
This happened more and more frequently over the last year or so as the pandemic made people re-evaluate. People were furloughed, earning money but not able to work. Would they have a job in a year’s time? And did they really want to still do that job?
It was a perfect opportunity to pivot, to re-shape an existing business or create a new one that perhaps utilised some hitherto undiscovered or overlooked skills.
So we head back to the expert in the average sized room. The first thing I say to my bereft of ideas, yet enthusiastic potential clients is “What do you know? What do you like? What are your interests?” And that doesn’t just mean “What have you done for a living for the last ten years?”
I worked with a Human Resources director who initially planned to set up a membership for fellow HR professionals. She didn’t want the 9 to 5 any more, she wanted more time, more freedom, more creativity. After chatting for a few hours, it became very clear that her heart wasn’t in this venture! But because it was what she had always done, she had almost chosen this route by default.
Once we got talking a bit more, her love of aromatherapy came up in conversation. She knew all about its history, what essential oils to put together to treat specific issues, she was explaining the difference between diffusers and aromatic spritzers all with an enthusiasm that had never shown its face while we were talking all things HR!
Long story short, her business plans took a dramatic shift and she created an online course for aromatherapy novices who wanted to learn more and start using essential oils to improve their own mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
Her zeal, her passion was what ignited the idea and we set out about creating a business plan to move her ideas forward.
“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” – Ferdinand Foch
And the steps she took next represent the major part of giving your new career the best possible chance of success. Because she planned to grow an audience, she started to increase her visibility. For a while there was tumbleweed but remember everyone starts with zero followers.
Consistency is key and her audience started to gather momentum, resulting in an engaged and involved group who were excited to join her membership when she launched it.
So, preparation and strategy are key, but what other tips should you bear in mind if you are looking to make a major change in your career.
- Don’t leave your 9 to 5 before you start your business. Grow your business as a side hustle while still working. Yes, it will mean more hours to begin with but it will also mean that if things don’t work out perfectly in your first incarnation as an entrepreneur, you will still be able to pay your mortgage.
- Do something you genuinely have an interest in. The enthusiasm you feel, will see you through the challenging days with far more energy and optimism than any pay cheque can.
- Create a business that will work with the lifestyle you aspire to. My first business was as a wedding planner. I was very successful but the main reason for working for myself when I started out was that I wanted to see my family more and travel more. So I created a business when I worked every weekend during the Spring and Summer. Not very well thought out! Needless to say it didn’t take long until I started looking at creating a different business.
- Bear in mind, if you find a business idea that no one has done before, the chances are it is not going to be successful! Don’t worry if your idea has been done before, it hasn’t been done by you. Your personality is what will make your idea stand out – remember, people buy from people so make sure you show the real you throughout everything you do.
Making the decision to change your career can be intimidating and should not be taken lightly, but it should also be acknowledged that it is often the most inspiring and rewarding experience.
We have all learnt over the last year that nothing is truly predictable, there are no guarantees, so if you have a yearning to “do that thing you always wanted to do” then go ahead and do it.
But – do it with a plan and a strategy that will provide you with the best chance of long term sustainability, profitability and peace of mind.
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