I have a career in a large corporation. I’m paid well and my job is important . . . to everyone but me. I live for weekends. By Sunday morning, I’m already dreading Monday morning.
I want to start a new business but I’m too afraid to take the risk. I’ve investigated over a dozen possible businesses I could start. I have some capital set aside. I have good ideas, but I don’t know if they’re good enough to build a sustainable business.
I’d really like to do work that would make the world a better place, but analysis paralysis always triumphs over confidence, so I don’t act. Family and friends say to stick with what I’m doing because it’s such a sure thing I should be grateful to have. Every time I think about retiring with a big 401K after decades of torturing myself by doing work I hate, I wonder why I’d settle for that kind of life.
I’ve been wanting to make a change for years. Sometimes I’ve gotten closer to walking away from the security of a good job, steady paycheck and comfortable lifestyle. Then I remember most new businesses fail and I have a nightmare about having to live out of my car because I’m homeless. That makes me get up and go back to work.
I really want to work for myself and take control of my career and my time, but I have to be sensible. I’m self-disciplined and conscientious. I know how to set and stick with goals. I long to begin a new business, but I need to be responsible to the people who depend on me instead of endangering them with a start-up business.
Your fears and concerns are normal. The prospect of starting a new business almost always creates an uneasy dance between fear and excitement about a better future. That’s good because creating a thriving business requires a healthy blend of realistic skepticism and passionate optimism.
Fear is raw energy you can eventually channel into productivity and success if you become crystal clear that you really want to build a new business. There are many things you still need to look at before you can make that decision.
DO YOU HAVE AN ENTREPRENEURIAL PERSONALITY?
First, we need to see if you have an “entrepreneurial personality” or if you just want to work a different job or for a different company. Your question indicates you do have many entrepreneurial characteristics. Examples:
• You want to accomplish something meaningful with your life instead of only working for money.
• You are self-disciplined and responsible.
• You set and achieve goals.
• You want to control your work environment, hours and tasks.
• You stick with a project until it’s completed.
I don’t yet know where you stand with regard to other major characteristics proven to be essential for successfully starting and running a new business. We can assess those during one of your first coaching sessions, after you share more about your interests, strengths, experience and long-term goals. You’ll gain value from a well-tested “Entrepreneurial Quiz” that I’ll provide to you.
BECOME CLEAR WHAT YOU WANT AND WHY
Although you know you want to walk away from your current job, you’re not yet committed to a specific passion or mission that will sustain excitement about getting up in the morning to work on your dream career. When you have a compelling vision and a personal “why I do this”, your new business will pull you forward with joy. It’s critical that you become clear what you truly want and head toward that instead making a change to escape from drudgery or unhappiness at work.
Since you may never have experienced true job on the job, you may not yet know it’s possible for work to be so much fun that you’d do it even if you weren’t paid. Either way, your question indicates some negative thinking patterns we need to address. I’ll discuss that on the next page.
During your coaching sessions, as you tell me what you’ve explored so far, we’ll discuss many options to make sure you zero in on potential careers that are consistent with your:
• life purpose
• long-term goals
• other strengths
• ability to compensate for weaknesses
• preferred work style
• monetary needs
• energy level
• risk tolerance
• personal needs
• the needs of people who depend on you
• preferred work environment
• support system
IDENTIFY AND CHALLENGE LIMITING BELIEFS
You said a fear of risk and a need for security are blocking your progress. I applaud your honesty about your fears. Let’s explore them so you can feel in control of your work life, whether you do or don’t change careers.
Most of us have repetitive, automatic negative thoughts when we contemplate making a major life change. It sounds like you contacted me because you’re ready to become crystal clear about what you really want in your professional life and allow yourself to have it. This will require some self-discovery exercises in which you examine your limiting beliefs, including “I’ll have to give up security and a comfortable lifestyle if I make a career change.”
I’ll show you how to recognize your repetitive, automatic negative thoughts so you can change your response to them. Please note how I worded that last sentence, “change your response to repetitive, negative thoughts.” The approach I’ll share with you is much easier than battling the thoughts that are causing your anxiety. You already use self-discipline in other areas of your career, so I’m sure you will be able to consistently use the proven tools I’ll share with you. I’ll also show you the easiest, most efficient ways to override your negative thoughts with realistic, truthful, positive thoughts.
PLOT YOUR PATH FORWARD
You said you fear failure if you begin a new enterprise because most new businesses fail. The failure rate is high for many reasons. Most people don’t take the steps you’re considering. They launch into a new adventure without a clear vision, self-assessment, adequate resources or qualified business coach. They fail to conduct a thorough SWOT (analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). They lack a solid plan that addresses the factors you’re reading about in this article. In all of my years of coaching new business owners, when someone is capable, focuses on their true mission and vision and plans carefully, fear of failure disappears and new resources often appear in surprising ways.
So far, you’ve focused most on your understandable fear of potential failure. During your coaching sessions, we’ll also work with fear of change, including the fear of success. Most clients are unaware of this common fear. It lurks under the surface when clients have one foot on the gas pedal and one on the brake, and unconscious thoughts whirl around like, “Who will I be if I become a successful business owner? Will I disappoint myself or someone else?”
Since beginning a new business is a major life change, I’ll help you simultaneously enhance your change management skills and your risk management strategies. We’ll address any threads of “Do I really deserve to have what I say I want?” so you can truly enjoy your new work life.
There are many reasons you won’t have to “sleep in your car because you’re homeless” if you change careers. I always encourage clients to carefully explore options instead of lunging into the unknown without a fully-equipped toolkit. If you decide you want to leave your current position and begin a business, we’ll explore how you can take small incremental steps forward, testing the results of each step and making necessary adjustments before you “give up security.”
During your journey to joyful work, you’ll develop internal security with self-discovery, clarity about how this phase of your life relates to your life purpose and a solid action plan based on your unique needs and strengths. We’ll elevate your path to success by addressing any nagging thoughts like, “Is it really possible to enjoy the freedom and control over my life that I want?”
Whether you decide to create a new business, change positions where you are or change companies, I want to help you graduate yourself from the internal struggle that is holding you hostage.
If you decide you want to stay where you are, we can explore how to create a more meaningful and satisfying work environment. For example, since you said you want to gain control over your own life and time, to the degree possible, I can help you “manage up” the chain of command.
Are you ready to take a safe step toward your independence?
Just complete the short application form on this website so I can contact you for a complimentary 20-minute consultation. If we decide we’re a good fit as client and coach, we’ll discuss a coaching agreement. I look forward to helping you gain the clarity and career you really want.
© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D., MCC is a Certified Master Executive Leadership Coach and Mentor Coach and author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job.” She has been interviewed on CNN, “The Today Show” and NPR. Discover the resources you need now!