Starting your own business? Better have a exit strategy…

10 Jul

You have always had a passion for sewing, so you decide that a layoff in late 2010 was a sign that you should put your passion to work and start selling hand made thing-a-ma-bobs online for low overhead and a high fulfillment career change.

You should always shoot for the stars, but hedge against the risk that your dream job may not be lucrative enough to sustain you financially over time.  If you go back to your accounting, HR, Project Manager job after 2 years of sewing in your garage and a mediocre launch of an eCommerce dream, you will be at a significant disadvantage in the job market.  Your skills may be looked upon as latent, rusty and soft.

What you need to do is come up with a strategy to keep your skills sharp while you are out of the game.   Maybe it’s earning a quick certification or two, relevant to your professional field.  Most of these can be done by studying online and taking a test for a small fee.  Maybe it’s earning an online MBA online from home at night.  Perhaps even pick up some consulting on the side for friend’s business’ that doesn’t exceed 10 hours/week.  You can keep track of results you were able to achieve for those small projects and include them in your career growth time line on a resume.

In addition to sharpening your skills, and staying up to date in your field, you should also document everything you are doing to get your business off the ground that is relevant to your old career.  If you left a career in project management or business analysis you can outline the process you managed of obtaining financing, doing a cost benefit analysis for using outsourced production over in-house, or even your evaluation of supply vendors.  This way, if you are forced to cultivate a resume in a few years, you can refer back to this list of tasks and projects you had to accomplish at the beginning that you may have forgotten about.  You’ve just brought your professional career into focus in everything that you do – almost creating your own position over the last X years based on your expertise.  Your resume should reflect that you ARE the job, and this process can make it easier when trying to write it all down again.

It’s admirable to start your own business but it’s difficult to make it work.  Even the smartest, most determined and entrepreneurial people can have bad timing or luck. In my opinion, the only people that would usually take the risk of starting their own business possess something extraordinary and I love it.  I am a huge fan of small business, and fostering an environment in this country where you can build an empire out of your garage – BUT there are some things that we can’t control and we need to be mindful of what COULD happen so we can mitigate the effects on our lives as much as possible.  Recruiters and hiring managers will want to see a commitment to your field, and a passion for it.  We don’t really need to know that your real passion is thing-a-ma-bobs. At least not throughout the interview process.



One Response to “Starting your own business? Better have a exit strategy…”

  1. something2writeabout September 26, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    Good advice! I read a tip this week also about maintaining a “side-hustle” job along with your regular one, in case things go sour either way. Kind of like a, “do what you love, and do what you have to” kinda thing. Smarty Pants!

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