Although the news today is full of articles regarding the increase in employment and the urgent needs for skilled workers in select areas of the economy, there are still a significant number of layoffs and forced retirements in corporate America. Should you find yourself in such a distressing situation, look at it from a fresh perspective. It just may offer the opportunity to re-shape your working life and enhance your personal life.
Necessity is the Mother of Opportunity.
The stories abound of people who make something sweet from the bitter lemon of a layoff or forced retirement. Here are three examples of people who navigated this difficult transition.
DONNY was an executive vice president at one of the nation’s largest banking conglomerates –– living a life that he loved and had worked hard to achieve –– when he was laid off in the Great Recession. Although he had a modest retirement package and savings, Donny’s age–– over 55–– and a slow economic recovery were working against him. Three years later, his savings diminished and few interviews coming his way, Donny decided to go into business. He thought of his experience in banking when he was young, handling mortgages and title transfers. This was something he knew that he could do, so he began looking for a place to set up shop. He decided that since the nearest town was a county seat, there would be a need for these services. Nearly five years after he started, Donny is making a good living from his business and spending more time with his family.
HALEY was working as a field auditor for one a major accounting firm and hated the travel. With a two children under twelve, Hillary recognized that she wanted to spend more time with her kids before they got too old. However, she couldn’t afford to leave her job. When layoffs came, she viewed it as the opportunity she needed. The severance pay helped her to start a local CPA firm oriented toward small businesses in her community. Haley built a strong book of small business clients by keeping her expenses low–– working from home and working solo. Today, with a comfortable income, Haley has developed both a life style and work style that fit her well.
Convert Your Passion Into A Paying Enterprise
CHARLES is a passionate golfer. He loved to say that when he wasn’t at work, he wanted to play golf, and when he wasn’t playing golf, he wanted to talk golf. Charles was more fortunate than most in that he was a salesperson for a large manufacturer that produced control panels for utilities. Often, he would go on golf outings with prospects or clients who liked to golf, but there was all the other time he spent in meetings, or in the home office, where he dreamed of the greens. One day, opportunity literally showed up at his door when the regional VP of his company asked him to organize a day-long golf outing for a large party of clients. “I don’t want the club to do it, Charlie, they always screw things up. This is a job that I know you can do better than anyone.” And Charlie did do it better, because he knew and loved the entire golf experience. When it was over, one of the company’s clients said to Charlie, “This was one of the best golf outings I’ve ever attended, Charlie,” and then jokingly added, “You should do this for a living!” Those words resonated with Charlie when his company outsourced their sales to an independent contractor and Charles was let go. In less than two years, he was selling golf event management services for large corporate and non-profit organizations.
Two Important Ingredients
If you look at these examples closely, you should notice that all three successful transitions have two common elements:
- Find a need and fill it: This old axiom is as true as it ever was. All three of these folks determined there was a need for their product or services.
- Marry your core skills/experience to opportunity: All three of our enterprisers looked at their core skills and experience, stripped away the corporate layers to which they were accustomed, and fashioned enterprisers around these core skills.
So, whether you seek opportunity first and then merge it with your core skills, or the other way around, these two ingredients–– when present–– will be integral in making the successful transition from employed to self-employed.
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