Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Changing Lanes in Tough Times

A talented friend of mine is thinking of starting her own business. Now you might think that is not a good time to entertain such an idea, but, in times like these many people actually do consider life changes such as a new career, a new job or new direction that makes them much more happy. How do they do it?

I thought my friend Jane (not her real name) had done a pretty good job and something most of us would never have the guts to do in pursuing her dreams. For the past four years, she has been in a number of commercials, stage plays, and an ensemble member of a local theater company that works with children and adults teaching them life skills such as tolerance, communication, self-esteem, and more. I thought she was already pretty good at figuring out what made her happy. Then I received an email from her asking for me to take part in a “think tank” session to listen to her ideas to open a new kind of art gallery near her home.

The participants in the think tank session gathered at her apartment and were treated to refreshments and a warm reception. Jane asked a friend to mediate the discussion to make sure we stayed on track. We were instructed first to listen to Jane’s idea and learn what input she would like from us before jumping in with our own ideas or information. Jane shared with us her idea for the gallery which she had already spent a good amount of time determining what would make her gallery unique. It was her chance to share with us what she had been contemplating; for it to become real by sharing it with people she respected.

Then it was our turn to provide feedback and support. We were thrilled with what she had come up with even though she admitted that when it came to the business side of things she would need help along with way. So we shared with her one by one how we would pursue such an endeavor and what contacts and information we had on hand. Here is the list of the group's suggestions that I thought I would share with you in case you too are considering a new direction:
  1. Do your research. Comb the Internet to find professionals and the organizations that will share with you the best practices of their field.
  2. Find examples of people who are doing it right and those who have made their mistakes and learn from their stories.
  3. Go to events, or make some phone calls that will put you in touch with people who are already in the business or doing what you are interested in whether it is a new career, becoming a stay at home mom, running a marathon or painting a landscape.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  5. Create a list of everything you think you need to make your dream a reality.
  6. Put together a plan -set small and achievable goals (milestones) that you can work on along the way.
  7. Share your idea with friends via email or in person – you never know who else your friends or family knows; they could be the key to taking your plan to the next level.
  8. When it comes to starting a business, take on a partner (or two) who will compliment your skills and knowledge with the qualities you have learned are necessary to succeed.
  9. Put together a proposal that details your short term and long term plan.
  10. When you are thinking about starting a new business, include in your proposal all of the costs, not just for establishing the business but keeping it on track in the good times and the bad. Again, in terms of a business, you would want to provide details about your plan for the next five to ten years (or however long it would take to repay the loan). Investors want to know you have done your homework and you are serious about making the business last.

Some of these ideas may not apply to what you are after, but, a number of them are sure to be useful if you are thinking about making a change regardless of what you are thinking about. The point is, if you want to try something new, don’t just leave that dream on the shelf. The more you do to move forward , the more real it will become and the better your chance of success.

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome friend you have and that she has in you and in the others at that think tank. This is the most respectful group of folk I think I have ever heard of!
    What a wonderful way to approach life.
    This is a good list for life in general.
    thank you for taking the time to share this.