Going into business? Don’t throw the apple too far from the tree.

Apples not far from the tree
Apples not far from the tree

In a recent NY Times Your Money article titled “Following your dreams brings bliss but not always money”, the business owners interviewed, like the ones I’ve named the Formerly Corporate™, had jumped or been pushed out of a corporate job since the Great Recession started.  The particular focus of this article was on people who had made a huge leap—from banking to cupcakes, or journalist to B&B owner, as examples.  And the message was cautionary.

When these kinds of clients come to me, I point out three things immediately.

Leverage the knowledge, skills and contacts you already have.

Starting from scratch is very hard. If you’re making a major change in fields, you’ll have to rebuild your credibility.   Speed that up by building a coherent story about your career arc that will let people make sense of where you’ve come from and where you are going.

Have some kind of financial cushion.

Whether it is a buyout package, a securely employed spouse, or a family that will back you up with money as well as encouragement, have something to support you for a good long time.  Keep your day job, or pick up a part-time job so you have some predictable cash flow coming in.  Starting and running a business without someone’s bankroll is foolhardy.

Don’t give up too soon, or hold on too long.

Few successful entrepreneurs plant the perfect seeds in the perfect field and reap a bountiful harvest with their first approach.  If you’ve planted an orchard, better raise some annual crops in the meantime, until your trees begin to bear fruit.

And, shamelessly mixing metaphors,  if you can see the end of the rope, start splicing on to it immediately. Or swing to catch another one.  Many entrepreneurs have re-invented themselves several times before they get it right.

Find some like-minded people to work with

Don’t  (really, DO NOT) try to go it alone. it’s too easy to get stuck in your Formerly Corporate Outlooks. Find a mentor or hire a business coach. Or both.  Find a group of people you can trust to ask hard questions, to tell you the truth, and then to celebrate your successes.  Through the mastermind teams I’ve built in my coaching practice, we create starbursts of connections and associates who do all that for each other. And we pass business to each other as well.

You can read more about these Starburst Businesses™ in the book, Formerly Corporate: Mindset Shifts for Success in your own Business, Open Door Publications, Yardley, PA 2013.

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