Q. After a long successful marketing career, my position has been eliminated once again. I am too young to retire and (apparently) too old to be hired for another job. While I would love to spend all day playing with my grandkids, I am restless to start something new. I am beginning to explore my opportunities as an entrepreneur. There are so many opportunities and ideas out there. How do I discover which direction I should take as an entrepreneur?
– Lori K., Michigan
A. Lori, I am so glad you asked this question! It’s tough to be “experienced” and be looking for a job these days. According to the U. S. Labor Dept. there are 6.4 people unemployed for every job available, so the competition is fierce. You have hit on a subject I hear almost every day: feeling too old to be hired.
As you are discovering, there are many wonderful opportunities in the wonderful world of entrepreneurship! Do you start from scratch or purchase a franchise, or does a home-based business, consulting or freelance position appeal more to your needs?
The beauty of your question is that you already have the answer-it’s time to discover.
Discovery is serious work, but it can be fun! When we were children, every day was an adventure. Guided only by our dreams, we led expeditions into the vast, unknown territory of our futures! Undaunted and unprepared, we overcame dragons and goblins to live in the world of our dreams.
It seems like too few people have a dream these days. The financial meltdown a few years ago rippled through companies and then families, creating chaos and upending the futures we’d laid out for ourselves. By now it seems like too many people have either “done it all” or “lost it all.” Dreams have faded into wishful thinking as we scramble to find our place in this new world order.
It’s sad, but far too few of us “big kids” really remember how to dream anymore.
How do you discover which direction you should take as an entrepreneur? Here are three tips to help guide you on your discovery expedition:
1. Begin dreaming again. Write down your thoughts, ideas and feelings about what you want your future to look like. Ignore the temptation to put limitations on your dreams based on where you live or how much money something costs. The purpose is to dream, to feel good about what you desire and more importantly, to understand WHY this dream is important to you.
2. Research is the key component to the discovery phase. Meet with people who can offer you insight into what you want to do. Ask questions about what they like and don’t like about what they do. What are the advantages and disadvantages? Ask questions. The purpose isn’t to agree or disagree with what someone says, only to gather enough information to go on to the next step.
3. Decide. Having done all the research, knowing what you want to do and WHY you want to do it, you should be able to make a decision that best meets your dreams and desires.
Robin Riddell is the Vice-President of Strategic Development for GRAND Magazine and recently founded Next Stage Woman, a forum and network for women entrepreneurs. If you have a question about starting a new business, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.