It seems there are so many things going on today that cause a person to pause and think to themselves, “Is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life?.” More and more people are thinking about this question, and you may be one of them. I pondered this very same question a few years ago. I had worked hard for decades, earned a great living, and achieved what I set out to accomplish. The problem was as my life changed (marriage, step-kids etc.) so did my values, and suddenly I found myself at odds with the successful career path I was on. The feeling of misalignment did not cease until I took a leap of faith in myself and started my journey down a new, more fulfilling path. For those of you that find yourself at a crossroads like me, you are in good company. In fact, based on a recent global study, about 27% of survey respondents plan to leave their current position or profession in the next 12 months. In the last year I have had the opportunity to work with several family attorneys and have seen first-hand their intense desire to shift their practice from litigation to mediation because it does not align with their values any longer. These “recovering attorneys” (as they call themselves) have decided the stress of litigating is no longer a path they choose to pursue full time, or at all. Some feel they would like to shift away completely but cannot replace the income quickly enough while building up a mediation practice. Others would like to create a hybrid practice that allows them the opportunity to offer more dispute resolution services. If this sounds familiar to you, here are some things to consider before making the move.
A dream written down without a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.
~ Greg Reid
Take time to leverage and expand your network with people who do the work you want to be doing. Follow them on social media, attend trainings, review blogs, listen to their podcasts, find out what they read and what events they attend. Learning from those who do it well far outweighs reinventing the wheel. Before you make a wholesale change to your career, I recommend making a pros and cons list to truly assess what you like and do not like about your work. Is it one or two things, or something larger? In doing this exercise you may find that there are only parts of your job that are burning you out, and in that case, there is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water; strategize ways to offload those tasks. Ultimately, you may find it is beyond just a few parts of the job that are sucking the life out of you, suggesting a more meaningful change is needed. Either way, doing this exercise allows you to focus on what needs to change, which is the first step.
If after doing this assessment you realize that a complete change is necessary, planning is your biggest key to success. As exciting and liberating as the decision is, you will need to realize there will be some work you do not love doing, do not understand, or have not done in the past. That is to be expected, but there are an infinite amount of resources to help you along the way.
Before The Vision, The Plan and What Comes Next
There are different approaches to making your dream a reality. Very few people nail the timing and get lucky with effort and passion. What is more typical for the rest of us is “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” as stated by Benjamin Franklin. In my experience it is the latter that seems to prevail. According to the Bureau of Labor Logistics, approximately 20% of small businesses fail within the first year. By the end of the second year, 30% of businesses will have failed. By the end of the fifth year, about half will have failed. And by the end of the decade, only 30% of businesses will remain — a 70% failure rate. I wonder how many of those businesses did not have a plan. Certainly, many businesses will succeed without an initial plan; however, if you want to grow a sustainable business, a business plan should be foundational. Your business plan should consist of budgets, sales goals, marketing strategies and other important tools to help manage and evaluate progress. What is clear is you will improve your position for more sustainable and rapid growth with a plan vs. going without. The adage of “you can’t improve what you can’t measure” is accurate. If you are leaning into shifting your practice or starting a new business the guiding light should be to chart your course, track what you have learned and refine the plan. Building your dream only matters if it meets your expectations and sustains your goals and aspirations for the long term.
Now: The Vision, The Plan and What Comes Next
Now you may be thinking, “what should I focus on in terms of getting the business rolling to support my vision?” There are various steps in the process, however we will start with the bigger points. Try to avoid “analysis paralysis.” The first plan does not have to be perfect, capture what you can and fill in the details later. Below are important points to consider when creating your plan:
· Create your Vision and Mission
· Develop your Business Plan
o High-Level Summary
o Business Tactics and Details
o Target Market and Research
o Operating Plan
o Sales and Marketing Plan
o Financial Plan
· Accountability and Execution
o Collaborate with a trusted partner to clarify achievable goals
o Consider an Accountability Coach or someone you trust to drive action and results
o Commit to reviewing business performance monthly from the beginning
This list of business plan elements may feel overwhelming. I have seen business plans take 30 minutes and others take days, weeks or longer depending on the complexity and needs of the business. If you are starting out as a sole proprietor, the process will generally fall within 2-3 hours to get started. What is important to grasp is getting a plan started is just as important as getting one completed. Consider the business plan to be an evergreen or evolving source of “here & now” information or data points and “from here to the future” perspectives that illuminate the desired path ahead.
Future: Activate the Possibilities
Remember, luck favors those who plan and prepare. There are excellent resources and partners for you to access and utilize in your journey. Whether you start on your own or feel you would benefit by partnering with a consultant or coach to assist you. I would start your search within your network of friends and colleagues. They can help you learn a great deal in the process. Make the process unique, rewarding and fun as part of the payback for acting and following your dream. The destination can offer many different types of rewards however the journey, the partnerships, and lessons learned along the way can be the most rewarding gifts of all.
Jim Myers has been in the business sector for 30+ years with Start-Ups to Fortune 100 companies in various industries. Jim has been fortunate to operate as a leader, talent developer and individual contributor in roles managing Strategy, Sales, Supply Chain, Products, Operations and Marketing over his career. He is very enthusiastic about helping others achieve their personal, professional, or business goals in a new or transformative approach. He can be found on LinkedInor at Innovative Consulting & Coaching where he is based in San Diego, California.
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