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Don’t quit your day job – just yet, until you’ve had some advice

Thinking of making a career pivot into an entirely new job, industry or even into your own business? Entrepreneurial business coach Debra Chantry talks us through how to do just that.

One day you wake up and you find yourself thinking about doing something different. Sound familiar?

I remember that day well. I had been back in a corporate job for around three-and-a-half years and whilst I could do the job easily, I had a great team and I earned good money, I realised that I didn’t want to be there anymore. That day I went into the office and I handed in my resignation.

Twelve years later and I am doing what I love every day and for close to 10 years, I made more money than I ever did in my ‘day job’ from following my passion and building a business.

Times have changed and I’ve taken on another start up so I knew that it will be two to three years before that starts to turn a profit but honestly, I wouldn’t trade what I do now for anything.

That was not the first time I’ve made a significant career change. I’m a trained biochemist and food scientist who now works as a business and leadership coach and runs a business club and events space called The Common, so this is the third time that I have made that leap.

For me, I have never looked back. However it hasn’t always been as easy as it appears on the outside. And the life of an entrepreneur and business owner is not for everyone.

I now work with clients who are looking to make a difference in their leadership roles as an employee, start-ups who want to take their business idea and make it happen and business owners who want to take their business to the next level. Through working with these people and through my own journey, I have learnt a lot about how you can make the transition easier.

I’ve seen many people make the decision, leave their current job and it hasn’t worked. Within months, they’ve lost their money and they’ve lost their confidence. They find themselves back in in another similar job and they probably won’t ever try again. For me this is heart breaking,  so I’d like to share what I have learnt so that if you are thinking of making a change, you can be prepared for what’s ahead.

So, before you quit your day job to embark on your passion, or make a significant change in your career, what should you do? These tips will help you whether you are seeking to transition into a new career or looking to leave the corporate world and go out on your own.

The first and most important reason is to be clear why you are wanting to make the change. For many people, they think it’s the job that they don’t like but it’s actually the environment or the people. So start with analysing what you hate about what you do and what you love about what you do. And, of course, what you are ambivalent about.

Then start to think about what excites you and what are you good at? Not just in your current role, but in life in general.

Is it a complete career change that you are looking for? Is it a move to a new environment and company, or do you want to make the leap to work for yourself?

The first time I made the big decision, it was a complete career change. I went from being a scientist in a laboratory to a sales rep on the road. I was ready to quit and move to another laboratory position. I was fortunate to have a boss that asked me all the right questions.

He asked me what I enjoyed and what I didn’t enjoy and together we came to the conclusion that I was not going to be happy working in a laboratory for much longer, so there was no point in moving to the same role in a different company. I loved the company I was in, I just didn’t enjoy the role that I was doing. He helped me to understand my strengths and weaknesses and looked for a role in the company that would better suit these.

So there’s my tip: seek some external advice. Find yourself a sounding board, or someone who can ask the right questions and help you to discover what is important for you.

And don’t think that your next move have to be in the same field. If you are in a company that you love but not enjoying the role, then working with a mentor or advocate in the company can help you to take on roles that you might not be considered ‘qualified’ for.

Once you get that new role, the imposter syndrome might kick in. “I’m not qualified to do this, I’m not good enough for this, I’m not as good as everyone else!”

We all get it, and it can be debilitating. But rest assured that you’re not alone. So, how do you tell the difference between irrational fears and real things you should be concerned about, when it comes to challenges?

First of all, try not to compare yourself to others. Everyone’s journey is different and you don’t see what is really going on behind the scenes. Focus on yourself and what you need.

Secondly, I recommend finding yourself a mentor – someone who has the experience in your new role or business. Ask for their help and advice. If between you, you identify real ‘gaps’ in your knowledge then seek ways to fill them. Ask to be given extra training or education. Or look at what others are doing. Perhaps ask to shadow someone who you admire or have respect for. And if all else fails, then Google it! And lastly, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. People love to help others – don’t deny them that opportunity to help you and feel good.

There’s a lot to consider when making big changes, however with the right prep work and the right support, there can be a huge upside to making the change and finding the thing that makes your heart sing.

The other reason people often make change is to go into your own business.

This is a minefield in itself. We leave paid employment with the promise of more money, more flexibility and more enjoyment.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

If you can’t imagine the ups & downs of income (being paid one week & not the next), fluctuating working hours, often long days, nights & weekends to get started, waking up in the middle of the night in a blind panic or with a mad, crazy idea that just has to get out of your head, then you’re probably going to struggle. Not to mention the fact that you will mostly be doing this all alone unless you get a good mentor or coach.

Three top tips to make a career pivot

  1. Get external help or a sounding board. Seek a mentor, advocate or cheerleader the throughout the transition.
  2. Do your homework before starting a new business.
  3. Look to work with people, rather than alone.

Debra specialises in business / leadership coaching and helping businesses and leaders get to their next stages of growth. Would a coach make a difference to your business? Get in touch through her website.

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