10 Things to Consider Before You Take the Leap from Corporate to Solo

These days many professionals yearn for a lifestyle that offers greater flexibility on how they manage their work, energy + time. And as companies restructure, change shape + outsource their functions, a new economy of small business operators has filled the voids.

In their recent report Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy, McKinsey claimed that up to 162 million people in Europe + the United States – or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population, engage in some form of independent work.

Solopreneurship is now a word + is only a resignation or redundancy away. Although the idea of more autonomy + freedom is romantic, it’s not for everyone.

So what should you consider before you take that leap from a corporate role into self-employment?

  1. Review your marketable skills.

    You may be a highly valued employee + earn a healthy income, but does this translate into self-employment? Undertake an audit of your skills + expertise. Which of your strengths are readily transferable + in demand elsewhere? What sets your experience apart from others in the field? What industries, organisations or individuals might be a source of ad-hoc, short-term or project work tomorrow?

  2. Seek out relevant training + development now.

    If you’re planning to leave your job, is there any further training + development available within your current organisation that will help with your transition? Accreditation in specialist instruments + methodologies can be expensive when you’re starting out on your own. Take advantage of opportunities that bolster your credentials + expand your offerings to potential clients.

  3. Test the support of those around you.

    While a healthy dose of confidence + self-belief are pre-requisites for going solo, it’s important to get other people on board. How does your partner or family feel about the change? Are there expectations to manage or compromises to be made? Talk to coaches, mentors, sponsors + other networking contacts. What kind of feedback + support do they give you? All of this input will be useful as you consider your options + clarify if you’re cut out for it after all.

  4. Re-position yourself, if needed.

    Changing the perceptions of your reputation + what you offer, can take time. If you’d like to focus on something new + different, you might need a portfolio of case studies to share with your new client base. If you can’t do this after hours, explore the possibility of developing expertise via secondments or projects with your employer. It’s easier to make headway before you leave.

  5. Be prepared to do something you don’t enjoy.

    If you’re used to working for a large organisation, you may find the mundane tasks of self-employment daunting, time-consuming or just not ‘your area of genius’. Of course anything can be outsourced. But if you’re starting up on a tight budget, these costs add up. Research free + affordable user-friendly software + apps that help you to manage the admin + operational sides of the business.

  6.  Create a business plan.

    Solopreneurship is quite different from corporate life. When you work for yourself, you’re no longer protected by a well-established organisation or strong company brand. A business plan is a roadmap + a reality check about the costs of going solo. What services or products will you offer? Have these been market tested? Do you need to create systems + processes? What fees, rates + prices do you expect to charge? Will these cover your overheads + pay you a salary? If you need assistance, look for free or inexpensive small business courses, mentoring programs + grants in your community.

  7. Start a business savings account.

    As there are many incidental costs involved with establishing a business, savvy professionals often set aside six months salary before plunging into self-employment. To make the transition easier, build a financial buffer +/or find casual work to help with the inevitable ebb + flow of  your new income stream.

  8. Identify business partners.

    If you’re starting from scratch, it can take time to identify clients, win work + develop a track record for repeat business + referrals. The reality is that as a solo operator, you may not be considered to have the capacity to deliver the services you currently manage in corporate life. Seek collaborations with like-minded individuals + identify associate relationships with larger service providers + consulting firms. The variety, depth + volume of assignments will develop your reputation + expertise as you build your own client base.

  9. Create your intellectual property.

    Developing your own products +  IP will avoid copyright issues + help to differentiate you in the market. Review the resources you’ve already created which can be re-purposed + branded for a new client base eg models, templates, techniques, presentations, research papers etc.  All of these will become part of your tool-kit + can be incorporated into your marketing and communication activities.

  10. Establish your brand + thought leadership.

    If you’ve already thought about a business name, check to see if it can be registered in your state/country + if the website domain is available. Once you have a business name, you’re ready to share it with the world! It only takes 1-page to kick-start your on-line business presence – the rest of the website can be built later. Start sharing your ideas + professional expertise on a couple of social platforms eg LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

    Now you’re well on the way to taking the leap from corporate to solo!

Redundancy SOS is now LIVE!

Restructuring, down-sizing and redundancy have become business as usual. It can be planned or random, unexplained and brutal. And although it no longer has the stigma it once had, redundancy can trigger a range of emotions, leaving many professionals feeling disheartened, and bewildered about the next steps.

There are organisations which manage redundancies with grace, and ensure all departing employees are equipped to navigate the next chapter of their careers. And despite a range of career transition and outplacement options available to them, many companies still handle redundancies poorly or not at all, which can leave former employees vulnerable in a competitive job market.

And no matter how well prepared you think you are for a redundancy situation, it can overwhelm the best of people.

This is why I developed ‘Redundancy SOS: Kick-start Your Job Search in 5 Days’, which is now LIVE!

You can read more about Redundancy SOS here.

Redundancy SOS is an online course which is designed for professionals whose employers may not have included career assistance in their redundancy package, and want/need to get back into the job market with confidence.

I’ve distilled the best of my insights as a career transition coach into an accessible, mini bootcamp to help professionals (this includes team leaders, managers + executives) prepare for a return to the job market.

Redundancy SOS is hosted on a dedicated membership website, and I’m really pleased with the final result, which you can check out in the video here.

But this course isn’t perfect for everybody.

You can read more about Redundancy SOS + purchase the course here or click the button below.

 

 

 

 

What’s does your career look like in 2017?

A new year always fills me with optimism about the boundless possibilities and serendipitous moments ahead. Personally, I can’t wait until the never-ending festive hoopla (which is very protracted, given it’s summer down-under) is over, and everybody gets back to work!

But for others, a new year can fill them with dread.

Just before New Year’s Eve, my friend mentioned that she hates this time of year. Why? She already knew what had happened that year, but didn’t know what lay ahead in 2017. A lack of certainty or fear of the unknown, made her uncomfortable.

While I view a new year as an exciting clearway, the lack of planned pit-stops may stress others.

In a new economy where jobs for life are all but extinct, and redundancies are common, we all live with varying degrees of uncertainty. Some of us deal with it better than others.

My mission is to help professionals make career moves on their terms. And when they hit some unscheduled turbulence, I can point them in the right direction.

If you’d like to give your career a nudge, or know a professional who’s planning a job change, here’s a few ideas to jump-start some proactive career management in 2017.

REDUNDANCY SOS E-COURSE

My new e-course ‘Redundancy SOS: Kick-start Your Job Search in 5 Days’ launches soon. For more information see https://careerstylenotes.com/redundancysos.

30 DAY CAREER STYLE CHALLENGE

If you’re planning to a job change or just want to give your career a little TLC, this challenge will help you get job market ready. For more information see https://careerstylenotes.com/careerstylechallenge.

CAREER STUDIO

To join my closed Facebook group ‘Career Studio’ – where I share posts + articles related to career development + career change, please join my VIP list here .

 

My Imperfect Day

My day will take on a new meaning and shape soon. The past two years have involved bold decisions and gutsy lifestyle changes. But after the death of my mother and sale of the family home this year, I’m at another crossroad.

I’ve just returned from an indulgent winter escape. I soaked up the heat on my skin, dressed in over-sized pineapple-print shorts and just let the day evolve. I had no real decisions to make – other than a swim in the sea or the pool outside my bedroom window.  While meal-times didn’t bother me, the languid strolls in search of a coffee fix were always an early morning priority.

But I’m home now. There’s a wide open stretch of road ahead of me. The vision board that’s been curated in my head, is coming to life.

Although each day takes on a life of its own, one routine is never compromised. The early morning walk with my spoodle, Chica. And we have options for each season and weather forecast. That walk happens rain, hail or shine. Chica seems to know when it’s time for me to stop and smell the roses, and I’m always left inspired and energised for the day.

001

I love breakfast with blueberries and green tea. It’s another non-negotiable. After checking into my online world, I spend the morning planning, creating e-courses and developing my membership site. This is my best thinking time – and when I’m most productive. By noon I’m ready to leave the house and engage with the world, and this is always over coffee and sometimes, after an Xtend Barre class.

Afternoons are spent with private career coaching clients, meeting colleagues or e-course collaborators. There’s always flex built in for the well-timed interruption or something spontaneous! By 5pm I’m ready to wind down and settle into the evening. If it’s a lovely summer’s night, there’ll be another walk with Chica, some quiet reflection and discussion with my partner over dinner, followed by a good dose of British TV.

My day will be imperfect, just the way I like it.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 3

 

Is Your Career Insured?


While we insure our house, health and income without hesitation, are we future-proofing our careers in the same way?

Job loss can happen to the best of us. And even if you view redundancy as a positive life-changing experience, a little career insurance along the lines of the following, can make the transition so much easier.

Seize learning opportunities

Company subsidised training and development, whether skills-based, a leadership development program, executive coaching or conference attendance, are often undervalued fringe benefits. Leverage and learn from these opportunities, and update your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Do things differently

When you’ve been in the same job for a few years, it’s easy to slip into cruise control. If you take the lead in meetings, try listening for a change. And if you like to observe from the sidelines, offer to give a presentation. Secondments and projects can offer capability building and networking opportunities which can also give your personal brand and professional development a boost. Sitting a little too comfortably in your ivory tower? Take a walk around the shop floor or visit a few customers. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you learn about yourself and others – and can do differently.

Record feedback

Managers, peers, direct reports and customers share feedback with us on an ongoing basis. What should you keep doing, do more of, or perhaps avoid all together? Keep a record of the praise you receive, as this will indicate how you are valued, where you contribute, and highlight your strengths. This feedback will help you to write a compelling resume, and prepare for interviews and discussions with recruiters and prospective employers.

Get out of the weeds

Do you know what’s going on in your profession, industry or the organisations you admire? When we’re immersed in something we love, or are just plain under the pump, we become oblivious to what’s happening elsewhere. Make time to come up for air, and cultivate networks outside your organisation. The technology is at your finger tips – connecting with others is more accessible than ever.

Try incorporating a couple of these initiatives into your routine now, to ensure you’re in pole position when the career tides change.

Career Savvy After 50

In the five years I’ve been a career transition coach, redundancies have almost become ‘business as usual’ in corporate Australia. And as a 5o-something  woman working with professionals navigating change, I’m tuned-in to the needs of my tribe, for whom career and economic independence is everything. When faced with redundancy, their confidence levels are often undermined by anxiety about ongoing employment.

Research indicates that where Boomer-generation workers face discrimination, it isn’t widespread, but nuanced according to sector, income and gender. It’s a patchwork picture, and women are less likely to experience discrimination. However, although our knowledge and expertise are undisputed, the IT revolution has left many of us under-skilled, vulnerable and overlooked.

The evidence suggests that we need to embrace a multi-generational workplace, value and offer our lifetime skills, sharpen our mind-set, and bridge any skills gap.

1. Embrace a multi-generational workplace

In her book Retiring the Generation Gap, Jennifer Deal concluded that each generation has more in common with the other than they think: They have similar values – they just express them differently; everyone wants respect – they just don’t define it the same way; everyone wants to learn – more than just about anything else, and no one really likes change.

2. Value & offer lifetime skills

Wharton Business School research highlights the lifetime of skills older workers bring to their jobs. They are described as being highly motivated and productive, having fewer sick days on the whole than younger counterparts, less absenteeism, turnover and superior interpersonal skills.

In their 2012 paper ‘Attitudes to older workers’, Westfield Wright emphasised that older workers can be a valuable asset to a business and organisation. These workers scored well on attitudes such as motivation, skill levels and energy – at least as high scoring as their younger workers. They scored high for productivity. Where there were issues, such as physical deterioration or IT skills and gaps, these are seen as redeemable and resolvable.

3. Sharpen mindset & bridge gaps

A recurring theme is that while they are more reliable and have a stronger work ethic, the Over 50s don’t keep up with technology – and this is what makes it hard for them to find work. And where they’re seen to be lacking energy, IT illiterate and set in their ways – decisions may work against them.

So how can you sustain a career after 50?

  • Accept a ‘job for life’ is a thing of the past & consider flexible alternatives
  • Act like you want to be there, make a contribution & add value
  • Demonstrate ongoing learning, including professional & skill-based training
  • Embrace new technologies – including systems, software and social media
  • Engage with change, and look for the opportunities it offers you
  • Hone interpersonal skills & learn how to ‘sell’ yourself
  • Share knowledge & expertise through mentoring others
  • Avoid mentioning and using age as an excuse

Sometimes this means doing things differently, and creating your own career options.

And as with career decisions at any age, it’s worth scrutinising the people and place of employment. After all, cultural fit is the key to ongoing career fulfilment.

 

12 Gifts for Your Career this Xmas

While Christmas is about giving to others, it’s also a great time to do something meaningful for ourselves. The festive season provides forced down time for many of us. Perfect for relaxation, and reflection on our careers, in anticipation of the year ahead.

Here are 12 gifts to give your career this Christmas:

1. Personal brand

Identify what you do, how you do it, and why an organisation might want to have you on board. Once clarified, you have the ammunition you need for career conversations, your resume, and interviews. Refer to my earlier post What’s Your Brand? here.

2. Market intelligence

Keep an eye on what’s happening in your market. What are your competitors doing? Which companies do you admire? Are there any organisations you’d like to work for? Get to know them better by following them on LinkedIn and Twitter.

3. Sense of achievement

Buy a journal or download an app, and start recording your professional accomplishments. Not only is it good for the soul, the notes will be useful prompts for resume writing, performance review discussions, and planning a career move.

4. Current resume

While your memory is fresh with the details of projects you’ve been involved with during the year, update your resume. Focus on significant achievements rather than what’s listed in your PD. Potential employers what to understand how you differentiate yourself from sometimes very similar candidates, and the value you offer an organisation. You never know who may come calling in 2014! See my earlier post on Resumes here.

5. LinkedIn profile

If you’re a professional working in the private sector, you can’t afford not to be on LinkedIn. Given its exponential growth over the past few years, both corporate and agency recruiters rely on LinkedIn to source candidates and manage talent pools. If you already have a LinkedIn profile, set up a monthly reminder to edit and update your profile. New content gets you noticed. See my post Are You LinkedIn for Career Success? here.

6. Great recruiters

Although they’re only one source of potential job opportunities, get to know the best recruiters working in your sector, industry or field. Follow what they’re managing, and if appropriate, arrange an exploratory conversation in the new year or connect with them on LinkedIn. Check out my post Do You Know Your Recruiters? here.

7. New experiences

Even if you’re happy where you are, explore the options within your organisation. A secondment or project may provide an opportunity to learn a new skill, bridge a gap or give depth to your expertise. It will also offer exposure to different people and functions inside the company.

8. Development programs

Take advantage any management and leadership development programs provided by your employer, or enrol in an course offered by a professional association. There are also plenty of free and accessible courses available online, eg Coursera and Udemy.

9. Fresh ideas

Nudge the status quo, and subscribe to online industry and professional updates to keep abreast of new research and practise in your field. Buy a book to stimulate and challenge your thinking over the summer break.

10. Connections

The Christmas & New Year holidays connect you with family, friends, and acquaintances. Make the most of these these conversations to learn more about yourself, and career possibilities. Read my 2012 post Network Your Way Through the Festive Season here.

11. Career options

Sketch a one-page overview of where you’re heading, and what you need to do to get there. While it doesn’t have to be perfect nor sophisticated, give some thought to a few scenarios. To get you started, refer to my Visual Career Plan post here.

12. Navigation & support

In just a few sessions, a coach can help you to create a strategy, navigate career hurdles and share job search tactics. Life’s too short to be stuck in a position or organisation that makes you miserable. Make a commitment to take charge of your career in 2014.

Happy Christmas!


 

Silicon for Your Career

Has your career management paradigm shifted since the global financial crisis?

It’s five years since the GFC rocked our world. In the USA, Europe and then Australia, organisations made swift and brutal changes, resulting in the largest round of redundancies ever. Move forward to 2013, and another wave has reached these shores, impacting some of those earlier survivors.

In my experience, for every person brimming with optimism about what a redundancy offers them, there’s another anxious individual treading water. Absorbed by their work for so long, they’ve often overlooked their employability and career options, and face the change with great trepidation.

In his book The Start Up of You, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman encourages us to challenge common assumptions about career paths, and expand the reach of our networks to gain a competitive edge, and land better opportunities.

What we now know, but so many of us fail to embrace, is that traditional career paths, along with the professional development previous generations enjoyed, no longer exist.

Our job is to train and invest in ourselves.

Searching for a job only when you’re unemployed or unhappy at work has been replaced by the mandate to always be generating opportunities…if you want to seize the new opportunities and meet the challenges of today’s fractured career landscape, you need to think and act like you’re running a start-up: your career.

Just like Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs, who are self-reliant, resourceful, ambitious, adaptive and networked, Hoffman says we need to think of our careers being in permanent ‘beta’ mode — an ongoing work in progress. This involves a life-long commitment to continuous personal growth, where each day provides opportunities to learn and do more with our life and careers — in order to adapt and evolve. A zig-zag rather than a linear career path.

Hoffman’s refreshing approach is a long way from where most people are during career transition.

Here are some of my takeaways from the book, to get you primed for the next phase of your career — whatever that looks like:

Develop a competitive advantage

Understand and articulate what makes you special, and differentiates you from other professionals. What do you offer that is rare and valuable?

Assets, Aspirations & Market Realities are the components of a good career plan.

  • Assets are the things you have right now – both hard (tangible) and soft (intangible).
  • Aspirations are your deepest wishes, ideas, goals and vision, regardless of your assets and external environment.
  • Assets won’t give you an edge unless people want and are prepared to pay for them. Where are the industries, companies, places and people with momentum? These are your market realities. Make these work for you rather than against you.

Plan to adapt

Career plans should leverage your assets, set you in the direction of your aspirations, and account for the market realities. Just like entrepreneurs, we should know our options and be prepared to switch course when needed.

A,B,Z career planning is a more adaptive approach, and encourages trial and error.

  • Plan A is what you’re doing now with your competitive advantage, which may require minor changes, and re-iterations.
  • Plan B is what you ‘pivot’ to, when you need to change your goal or how to get there. Much the same as Plan A, Plan B eventually becomes Plan A.
  • Plan Z is the fall-back position. When all else fails this is the lifeboat, what keeps the home fires burning. And it allows you to take risk in Plans A & B.

There is no beginning, middle, or end to a career journey; no matter how old you are or at what stage, you will be always planning and adapting.

Prioritise learning: Ask yourself “Which plan will grow my soft assets faster?” “Which plan offers the most learning potential?”

Learn by doing: Practical knowledge is best developed by doing, not just thinking or planning. Actions, not plans, generate lessons that help you test your hypothesis against reality.

Make small reversible bets: Good Plan As can be stopped, reversed or morphed into a Plan B to minimise the cost of failure. Iterate bit by bit. Learn experience by experience.

Think 2 steps ahead: If unsure of the 1st or 2nd step, pick a first step with a high option value – one which will lead to a broad range of options eg management consulting. A good Plan A offers flexibility to pivot to a range of possible Plan Bs.

Maintain an identity separate from specific employers: Your LinkedIn headline should be personal brand or asset focused. Start a blog, develop a public reputation and portfolio of work. This creates a professional identity that you can take with you when you shift jobs. You own yourself.

It takes a network: Be interested in your professional network, and support others if you want to accelerate your career. Establish a diverse team of allies and advisors with whom you grow over time – people are the source of key resources, information and opportunities, and act as gatekeepers. Relationships matter – the people you spend time with shape who you are and who you become.

Build genuine relationships: Forget the transactional old-school one-way networking. Relationship builders help people first, and prioritise high quality relationships over large numbers of connections. They focus on collaborative long term relationships and search for common ground and shared interests. The best way to engage people is through the people you know. Good connections will influence you, change how you think and open and close certain career doors, sometimes without you knowing it.

Can a little Silicon help you build a more sustainable career? 

 

Career nurturing goes a long way

Another election, a new government, and some talented politicians have been relegated to the opposition benches. While many still have constituents to represent, ministers have been demoted. Their roles have been made redundant.

Job loss can happen to the best of us. And even if you view redundancy as a positive life-changing experience, a little career nurturing along the lines of the following, can make the transition so much easier.

Seize learning opportunities

Company subsidised training and development, whether skills-based, a leadership development program, executive coaching or conference attendance, are often undervalued fringe benefits. Leverage and learn from these opportunities, and update your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Do things differently

When you’ve been in the same job for a few years, it’s easy to slip into cruise control. If you take the lead in meetings, try listening for a change. And if you like to observe from the sidelines, offer to give a presentation. Sitting a little too comfortably in your ivory tower? Take a walk around the shop floor or visit a few customers. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you learn about yourself and others – and can do differently.

Record feedback

Managers, peers, direct reports and customers telegraph feedback to us on an ongoing basis. What should you keep doing, do more of, or perhaps avoid all together? Keep a record of the praise you receive, as this will indicate how you are valued, where you contribute, and highlight your strengths. This feedback will help you to write a compelling resume, and prepare for interviews.

Get out of the weeds

Do you know what’s going on in your profession, industry or the organisations you admire? When we’re immersed in something we love, or are just plain under the pump, we become oblivious to what’s happening elsewhere. Make time to come up for air, and cultivate networks outside your organisation. The technology is at your finger tips – connecting with others is more accessible than ever.

Try incorporating a couple of these initiatives into your routine now, to ensure you’re in pole position when the career tides change.

 

Mad About Mentoring

What ever happened to good old fashioned mentoring? Those men and women that made a difference to our lives? No fancy corporate programs – just trusted relationships that became valuable touchstones in our careers.

The concept originates in Greek mythology, when Odysseus entrusted his loyal advisor, Mentor (aka Athena, the female goddess of wisdom) with the care and education of his child, Telemachus. Move ahead to the 21st century, and a mentoring relationship is no longer this exclusive.

 Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction ~ John C. Crosby

As we navigate the twists and turns of our careers, mentors offer observations, tangible advice and emotional support. All of this, for as little as the cost of a latte. Yet when I ask the people I coach, Do you have a Mentor?, the reply is mostly a resounding No.

With corporate upheavals, flatter matrix-based organisations, hot-desking, new technologies and the explosion of social media, mentoring’s had a makeover. As no one individual can possibly address all aspects of our careers, a smorgasbord of mentors, with a diverse range of views and expertise is on offer.

Whether it’s forming a personal board of directors, or a developmental network, mentoring encompasses a range of people who have a genuine interest in our career, learning and growth. And while chemistry is still important, new-age mentoring is about mutually beneficial, and reciprocal relationships. It’s also gone 360 degrees, with peers, direct reports, customers, stakeholders, and senior managers in the mix.

Mentoring happens on the job and in cafes, and can be scheduled or opportunistic. Insights, information, guidance and new perspectives are available on career direction, leadership challenges and project issues. Conversations and contributions can be as varied as the mentors we engage.

Good mentors will challenge and stretch our thinking and help us to explore new options, opportunities and networks. They share their experiences, give feedback, and the tell us the things we don’t really want to hear. The partnership should be nurtured, and mutually energising, not depleting. These are positive relationships that generally make us feel good, and necessarily uneasy at times. And perhaps more importantly, mentoring can help us to get unstuck when we need it, and give us the confidence to make a well deserved career move.

Mentors are all around you. Are you ready for the smorgasbord?