The saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” While that’s the dream for most of the working world, unfortunately, finding a fulfilling career that also supports you financially can be challenging, especially if you have dependents who rely on you.
If you’ve reached a point in your life where you’re looking to make a change — whether that’s an entirely new career path, turning a hobby into a fully operational business, filling your time during retirement or keeping busy as an empty nester— the following five considerations will help you decide if starting a new career is right for you.
Test the waters
There’s a big difference between a side hobby and a full-time business. Heather Yunger, founder of Top Shelf Cookies, knows this well.
“Before I started Top Shelf Cookies, I got my feet wet by working a second job at a local bakery. Sure, I liked making cookies for my family and friends, but I needed to experience the business sides of bakeries to help me determine if it was something I wanted to do full-time. It was important for me to learn the ropes before investing all my time and money into a project that I might not even like.”
If you’re thinking about changing industries, be honest with yourself about why you’re looking to make a change. If it’s the prospect of more money, but is in a field you’ll potentially hate, that’s likely not the best move. Before doing a complete 180, think about what you really want out of a new career and what it may mean for your personal satisfaction. Talk to people in the field and learn as much as you can. While the grass always seems greener on the other side, every industry has its shortcomings. Know what’s in store before you make a big change.
Don’t mistake “being your own boss” as having no responsibility
A major lure of owning your own business is the idea of not having to answer to anyone but yourself. While being your own boss may come with a sense of freedom, that doesn’t mean you have no responsibility. Being a boss is quite likely more work than just reporting to one. Not only are you putting your financial stability entirely in your own hands, but if you have employees, your actions directly affect them as well. According to the Small Business Association, only half of all establishments will survive five years or longer. If you’re not committed to investing ample time and resources, you could quickly find yourself obsolete. An important first step is to develop a solid business plan; check out our handy guide for getting started.
Uncover your weaknesses
As much as we’d all like to be perfect, there’s very few of us who actually are. Know your areas of weakness and find ways to overcome them or find someone you can trust to take over that part of the business. For example, maybe working with numbers just isn’t your thing. If that’s the case, do you want to be responsible for bookkeeping and payroll? If yes, consider taking an accounting class to understand the basics. Or turn to a professional. Sometimes, hiring someone to handle the things you’re not good at saves time, and therefore money.
Know what resources are available and don’t be afraid to ask for help
There are dozens of free or low-cost resources available for prospective small business owners or people looking to make a career change. Don’t be afraid to utilize these resources to set yourself up for success.
Set your expectations
Ask yourself what exactly you want to get out of this new venture. Do you really want to be a business owner, or is this side hustle just a way to make some extra cash? Go in with a plan and understand how much time (or not) you’re willing to invest.
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