Most people in day jobs are working within a given set of guidelines and schedule. I refer to those parameters as a boxed framework that gives you a guide. Your meetings are mostly planned, or you plan them with your team. Even if you have the freedom to make your own schedule, with most day jobs there are still meetings to attend, quotas to fulfill and a team to work with. And most of the team has been placed there by another person or higher-ups in the company.
One of the toughest things about switching from day jobs to an entrepreneurial career is developing the mindset of an entrepreneur with creating your own framework. So why do I mention mindset first? Negative self-talk, doubt and fear are constantly pounding at your door and those adverse thoughts are so easy to just let in and take over. The not-good-enough monster would love to run your life and business! Here, we will approach six specific foundational elements that will help you make that transition from a day job to entrepreneur and stay in control at the same time!
Foundation One: Start slow and Focus on a Healthy Mindset. I would encourage you to spend time on your why and purpose statements to begin. That focus will help you stay on track when there are shiny objects that look easy to pursue that will take you off course. Also, it is a great way to test the waters. (see article: From Nurse Practitioner to Entrepreneur)
Many of those at the halftime of life have a hobby they’d love to see develop into a full-on business. It sounds ideal to work in a field you absolutely love for the rest of your working years. In fact, the thought of this is so appealing you may never want to retire!
What Starts as a Dream...
However, what starts as a dream could develop into a nightmare with work that will absolutely take over your life. I know this principle very well as I’ve been in the entrepreneur space for so many years. When it comes to finishing projects, I can’t help but stay up way too late and get up before dawn to get things done, skipping hours of precious sleep. That’s fine once in a while, but when the pattern repeats itself, burnout is ahead!
Here is where the value of a good plan and a guide enter in. Even those individuals we look up to, such as Bobbi Brown, who sold her major cosmetic company at the age of 62. She needed a coach and guidance as she found herself wandering aimlessly. She was overwhelmed with what to do next.
Slowing down to take care of details and plan is great advice most of us need to hear at any stage. And there are so many resources available for guidance, whether online or in person. It’s worth the investment to invest in yourself.
Foundation Two: Get your Finances in Order. Over half of new businesses fail within five years, and much of this has to do with cash flow. Many small businesses pursue outside funding or investment, but I love the idea of self-funding. This is called bootstrapping in many circles. This is to use personal resources to build the business and profits are usually poured back into the business to create further growth.
Identifying a product or service that can be profitable is extremely important, even if it’s still a hobby. You might have now developed a healthy mindset, starting slow with a side-business plan, but can you really make money with your endeavor? With a hobby, profitability is usually not the main goal, but with a business, it is!
Take the time to outline how you will make money with a prospective budget. What throws off many new entrepreneurs is the cost and efforts of marketing. If your name is top-of-mind, you have a greater chance of selling. When obtaining my first teaching job, I was called because my application was on top of the pile. Marketing works the same way. If your name or product is on top, there is a good possibility of you getting the first call and that could translate into a major sale.
Foundation Three: Define your Skills and Create your Job Description. When first embarking on an entrepreneurial venture, skilled entrepreneurs tend to do most everything themselves. In fact, it’s very common for a business owner to go from booking an exciting client appointment to then dumping the office trash. There is nothing wrong with that, by the way! It’s a good reality check.
But as your business grows, the parameters of your job need to be set. I have shared very openly that I surround myself with those who have organizational skills that will complement my visionary skills. In fact, I need those people! One of my personal drawbacks is that I don’t want to overwhelm those who come along side my efforts. However, with their skills, they are not overwhelmed—they’re energized! I have to remind myself that fact often!
Foundation Four: Figure out your Profit Needs and Projection. This builds off of Foundation Two with getting your finances in order. After you’ve figured out the prospective profitability of your business and what it will take to market it, you can determine areas that will help you scale. Take another good look at your budget and living expenses to make sure you can still live comfortably.
One area that many may not think through completely is insurance and benefits they have with a current employer. When those costs are added into the mix, keeping a business as a side business may make sense until there are enough resources to cover those additional expenses.
Use Your Network
Foundation Five: Network and Create your Own Opportunities. Your current network is more valuable than you may realize. Just as cold calls are much more difficult than warm calls, using your network to expand your contact base is both useful and extremely helpful as it serves as an expanded warm call.
Cold marketing with ads and social media posts get lost in the amount of noise online. However, with ads that are retargeted and sent to those who have already seen one of your posts or are acquainted with one of your current contacts, those have now become warm connections.
There are a number of ways to expand and grow your contact list, from local networking groups to developing online forums. The list can be extensive depending on how creative you get. The main thing is to connect with people. Your clients and audience want to know and trust you so let them!
Focus, Fun and Fulfilment
Foundation Six: Have Fun! Don’t forget this step! This is the best word of advice we can end with. Halftime should be a time of focus, fun and fulfilment, creating a lifestyle that you’d love to wake up to every day. Our life here on earth is relatively short, so the ability to enjoy your work and life is truly a gift.
Spend some time thinking and journaling through these six steps. In fact, I encourage you to take on a 90-day challenge, writing a couple sentences each day in your journal. As you write out a thought or two, your path may become much clearer!
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