Can I make money following my passion?

Following your passion instead of maintaining a "safer" career may be in the cards for you. Get some pointers.

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Dear Liz,

I could use your advice. I go back and forth on whether to stay on my current career path (banking) or whether to step out and try something new, particularly something that I am more passionate about than banking.

I’m 32 and not married (I have a serious girlfriend) and don’t have kids, so on one hand I feel as though this is the perfect time to do something adventurous. I am interested in the outdoors, I’m curious about entrepreneurship and I don’t see how I can make it through to retirement if I stay in the corporate world.

Between the volatility of individual companies and industries and the level of politics I see around me every day, I don’t think I’ll ever be happy in a big company.

My resume has “Banker” written all over it. It’s ironic that I’m qualified to start nearly any kind of business I want, but in the full-time employment world I’m only qualified for banking jobs. I’m curious about entrepreneurship. I think I would be good at it.

At the same time, I don’t have any friends who are entrepreneurs. I don’t have a clue how to follow my passion and turn it into a career, and I know I can make six figures as a banker and squirrel away some money every month. Still, I hate the fact that I can’t sleep on Sunday nights because I hate getting up to work on Monday morning. What do you suggest I do next?

Thanks,
Art

 

Dear Art,

Congratulations to you on looking around to see what’s outside the box! Many if not most entrepreneurs went through the same struggles you’re experiencing now. I remember when my accountant asked me “Why did you reduce your compensation 75% from last year to this year?”

“I started a new business,” I said. “You are brave!” she said, but it wasn’t bravery that got me to jump. I was in the same state you are in right now. I knew I could do the stuff I’d been doing forever and keep a roof over my head, but I was miserable, the same way you are.

I had a bunch of little kids and worried about supporting all of them on an entrepreneurial income.

All of my concerns were unfounded, as it turned out, and yours will be too. If you hate the entrepreneurial life, you can always go back to the salaried world. Why not step out and try something new? As you say, you are the perfect age and at the perfect point in your life to take an entrepreneurial leap!

Back when my dad was working for the same company for 35 years, it was risky to get off the corporate conveyor belt. People like my dad looked at the future and saw more of what they already knew — regular promotions on the job in a great company that valued them, with a nice retirement package at the end of the road.

Who could fault anyone for taking that deal? That deal went away about twenty years ago. It’s gone, and it’s not coming back.

If you’re going to deal with corporate shake-ups anyway why not do it on your own terms? As an entrepreneur, you’ll grow new muscles.

You’ll figure out what you especially love to to do and what you’re particularly good at. You’ll learn a lot about yourself running your own company. If you go back to salaried employment at some point, you’ll know much more about your value than you do now. You won’t be stuck in a particular industry, the way you are now.

You can take a lot of steps toward launching your business while you’re still working at the bank, as long as you’re not starting something that competes with your day job. You can write a vision statement and a business plan, or start daydreaming about the kinds of work you want to try and the types of Business Pain you want to relieve for your clients.

You can come up with a name for your business and order your business cards. You can start networking like crazy.

It used to be risky to follow your passion. Now, it’s economically at least as sound as trying to stay employed until retirement — and you’ll notice I didn’t even say “happily employed”! You owe it to yourself and the people who love you to follow your nose and see where it leads you.

Whatever happens, you can only grow new muscles in the process of becoming a business owner. You may end up making a lot more money than you earn right now!

We’d love to hear how your business develops, Art — best of luck in your adventures!

Yours,
Liz

Topics:
  • Career Planning
  • Changing Jobs
  • Career Planning
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