“You can do it alone. But it’s going to be so much harder.”
It sounds somewhat harsh, but author Jennifer Egan hits the nail on the head. Launching your second career venture is not a solo practice, even if you are a solopreuneur. It takes a village to launch your efforts. There is a side benefit to this village: people live longer when they have the support of others, and often the work relationships from corporate go away after you leave the corporate matrix. Creating a work-life balance after leaving your day job requires some creativity as you build your “new retirement” life.
In all probability, launching your venture will require skills that you do not have. When we work for large organizations, there are other people that can be influenced to do what is needed. When you go out on your own, you either have to buy that expertise, develop it yourself, or barter for it.
How do you decide what to do and what to buy? How much of your time are you willing to invest in learning new skills? How much enjoyment do you get from doing so?
When I started this practice, I had the luxury of not needing to live on the proceeds from the business. I am now cash flow-positive from the practice and am in the position to see a clear path towards where I want to go. As I have been mentioning in the last few blogs, it comes down to a question of balance.
I am the type of person that works well in the undefined state of startups. One of my quirks, though, is that I need to understand the framework for the environment, the questions, as well as the tools. Some of those tools are software, some are techniques, some are assessment in the practice area of our business.
In my youth, I rebelled against traditional education. I am, to a large degree, self-taught. Lately, I have been amazed that I have chosen the formal education path over self-teaching more and more frequently. I have taken two formal coach training programs – one in ICF Core Competency Coaching from iPEC, and one in nutrition theory and wellness coaching from IIN. When it came time to learning Quickbooks, I opted for a community college class. To learn how the subconscious can be reprogrammed I took two PSYCH-K training courses.
I have done this because I realized in my first PSYCH-K course that I am an experiential learner. Looking back at high school and college, I aced any class that I showed up at. Simply being exposed to the information allowed me to learn it and master it. So self-teaching for me was dependent on being in an environment where I could learn empirically.
In corporate America, I had ample opportunity to learn from those around me in this way. Self-teaching worked because I had a feedback mechanism where I could collaborate with and observe other people around me. When I left that environment, I no longer had that support or that energy.
There are a variety of ways to get support from others. Peer networking groups, like ICF-PIttsburgh for coaches, are a logical place to go for that. Community College courses, university certificate or advanced degree programs, seminars, distance learning courses are all ways for connecting in person or virtually. Meetup groups are another place to find support. In Pittsburgh, there is one for co-locators where people support one another in looking for a supportive fashion.
It is easier to make decisions on what to make, versus what to buy when you have others to bounce ideas off of. It is also easier to find them when you get out of your home office and talk to others. One of the best decisions that I made was to join a BNI chapter, because it forced me to show up once a week bright and early at seven in the morning, and it forced me to look for people to refer to others, otherwise known as referral marketing. That got me to network in other places. I, like most people, will work harder for others than I will for myself.
That being said, in launching your effort, I have found that having some type of support system is best. I have also found that others often want to help you succeed, and that people will often help you. You simply have to show up and ask.