I’m an example of a ‘reinvention’! I spent the majority of my 20-year career in the marketing and communications profession. But 10 years ago, I began PR Jobs List, a weekly email that provided job listings in Denver to a couple hundred public relations professionals. A simple e-mail blast, this free service helped top PR professionals connect with some of the best jobs in the Denver metro area. The list grew into Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List, an automated web site with several categories of jobs in Colorado and today, more than 20,000 subscribers have signed on to receive the weekly updates.
About two years ago, I began the process of figuring out how to turn my ‘hobby’ (which had turned into a passion) into a full-time career. I imagined life running my own business and helping others by dedicating all of my time to Andrew Hudson’s Jobs List. I knew the job site was working; I’d heard from hundreds of employers and employees that it was one of the most effective job boards in Denver. I also knew that if I could commit my life to building on this idea of a localized job board, that I could make it even MORE effective.
But turning my ‘hobby’ into a full-time business? It was completely intimidating!
I had no experience in entrepreneurship! How do I write a business plan? What about licenses, IRS rules, business accounting, lines of credit, investors, how would I insure myself? There were many times when my dream just seemed like – a dream! Was I really handcuffed to the comforts and benefits of a full-time job? What if it didn’t work out? What if I couldn’t make it work? Was I willing to put my reputation on the line? I talked to a lot of people who encouraged me but I also spoke with others who warned me about of the risks of starting a business in a recession.
There were several keys that helped me overcome the common fears and anxieties of ‘reinvention,’ which I believe are critical to anyone wanting to do something different in their lives.
Whether you want to start a business, transfer your skills into a new line of work, or learn a new set of skills to follow a new career path, here are some strategies I found helpful:
1.) Imagine and make a commitment to living the life you want to live. Attitude is everything. Friends tell me all the time, “Andrew, if you want to do something, you simply figure a way to get it done.” They are right. I’ve been inspired by this attitude in others throughout my life and luckily, it’s rubbed off.
If you have an idea of what it is you want to do, you need to first, make a commitment to yourself. Start with the basic question, “What does that life look like?” Does it fulfill a desire and a passion? Is it something that you envision making you happy? Is it a passion you can imagine doing as your life’s work? Now is also the point where you change your attitude from “I’ve always wanted to…” and start thinking “I am committed to….” You will see that this one shift in attitude is the first and most critical step of your reinvention journey.
2.) Make a plan. Sit down with a pad and pen and start answering some critical questions. What do you need to do to reinvent yourself? What are the strategies and tactics you need to follow to make that life happen? Does your reinvention include additional education? What financial investments will it require? Do you have to make modifications to your current life in order to make this happen and what do those modifications look like? Realize that your reinvention journey is most likely not going to happen overnight, but is a process that will take time, effort and energy. In order for your reinvention to not overwhelm you, try to address each issue in manageable bites. Then, draft a simple timeline that spells out achievable short and long-term goals.
3.) Research. Determine what is required to pursue your dream. For example, if you are a human resources trainer but you want a career working in marketing, what additional skills will you need? Inventory your current skills and talents to determine which skills transfer into the career you want to transition. What are the types of jobs that are available? There is a remarkable amount of information on the Internet and from professional associations that describe career path scenarios for many career sectors. If you are starting a business, there are accessible resources available from organizations such as the Small Business Administration, local Chambers of Commerce, the Secretary of State’s office, local government economic development agencies and workforce development offices. These include resources on how to write a business plan, low-interest loans, free workshops on career transitions and many other areas that will help you.
4.) Learn from others. When I made a transition into entrepreneurship, I leaned on a lot of friends who had successfully started their own businesses. They mentored me and gave me guidance about common issues and pitfalls I needed to avoid. In the same vein, if you are looking to make a transition to a new career, talk to friends and colleagues that are currently in careers where you want to move. Or if you know someone who has reinvented themselves, talk to them about their journey. When you ask for advice, REALLY LISTEN. While you may be reinventing yourself, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – or in other words, learn how to avoid making common mistakes.
5.) Educate yourself. We all have the potential to be life-long students. If you believe additional education is necessary in order to pursue your dream, then go back to school! Scholarships and financial aid are available to students of ALL ages. There are also a variety of non-traditional ways to further your education. Some universities have programs that allow you to earn an MBA in only one year’s time! There are many technical colleges as well as traditional universities that cater to professionals’ unique schedules and timelines. In my case, I researched business plans online and bought reference books. I attended seminars and listened to new business lectures on YouTube and took online tutorials to learn new software. I learned the basics of small business accounting. I also enhanced my marketing and public relations skills and learned savvy sales and pricing techniques.
Making the committment to reinventing yourself is a major lifestyle change; it requires a huge dose of confidence and belief in your goal, it involves taking yourself out of your comfort level, it means you must be willing to take some risks and ultimately, it requires patience. Most reinventions don’t happen overnight.
But choosing and committing to live the life you want can also be one of life’s most richest journeys.