The answer for many employees has been to leave their unhappy jobs, pursue their dreams, and launch their own businesses. But does owning your business guarantee better career satisfaction? What happens when your small business does not turn out to be your dream job and you want to leave to continue your career at a larger, established company?
One Leap Leads to Another
My own experience involved a transition from a traditional career as director of operations for Messenger Associates, a small career management and human resources consulting firm, to a completely unexpected career as freelance writer.
Writing is not what I set out to do when I started my own business. I was dissatisfied working for someone else, and I had long desired to start my own business. It seemed a logical step choose a field where I had experience and skills. And so Productive Life Concepts, my virtual office management consulting firm, was born.
Fortunately, things went well. I should've been thrilled at my success, and yet I wasn't. Yes, I was my own boss, but where was the satisfaction, the joy and the passion I had been seeking?
Finding What I Loved
I started by asking myself some questions.
What part of this business do I really enjoy?
Which activities am I eager to do?
Where in my day does time seem to stop?
Soon the answer became clear. I loved to write; blog posts, articles, even well-crafted e-mails. But how do I get from virtual office consulting to a career writing? The answer came in keeping my eyes open for opportunities and slowly evolving toward work that hits that spot where passion and profitability coexist.
I started by first writing about what I knew: business and productivity. I asked my contacts and colleagues to pass along leads on freelance writing opportunities.
I began to widen my sphere of possible projects, contacts, and publications. As my writing projects grew, I began downsizing and handing off my consulting clients. Eventually the transition from employee, to business owner, to freelance writer was complete.
Discover and Transition
The most difficult part of doing what you love and making money at it may be in gaining clarity about what it is that you love to do. Some of us may have always known. Most of us have to spend a little time and effort unearthing our passions. Ask yourself the following:
What have you always loved to do? Not necessarily what you have been trained or educated to do or what you have the most experience doing, but what you really enjoy, even if you have never made any money doing it.
What were your dreams as a child? What would you do if money weren’t a concern? The answers are often clues to uncovering your passions. Think of ways you can turn those passions into a business opportunity.
What part of your current business do you most enjoy? What do you really love to talk to other people about? What else are you interested in and skilled at, even if it's only a hobby right now?
Once you understand what you really want to do, ask yourself these questions to figure out how you can transition into a more fulfilling career:
Can you incorporate work you are truly passionate about into your current business?
How can you maximize the portion of your time spent these activities you love? Is there a way you can spin off the rest?
Is it possible to shift your business into a niche that you find more satisfying? Maybe you are sort of engaged in a business you are passionate about. Can you make a lateral shift to a different product or service within your existing field?
Do you know someone else who is already successful at doing what you want to do? Even though you may already be an entrepreneur, don't be embarrassed to ask for advice from a mentor.
Do you have the financial cushion to take some risks and do what you love? The bills still need to be paid.
Finding a way to be financially successful while doing what we love is not simple. While there is no guarantee that you will be able to make money doing what you love, there are many—myself included—who firmly believe the payoff is worth the risk.
Royale Scuderi is a freelance writer and success coach. She is the founder of Productive Life Concepts and has been featured on top-rated blogs such as Stepcase Lifehack and The Huffington Post. You can also find her musings on life and business at GuardWife.com and Twitter.com/RoyaleScuderi.
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