What I Learned from Starting my Businesses

A recent LinkedIn post had me thinking about leaving my job and starting my business.  I left a good job that paid me well allowing for even more than I needed. Unsure of what I wanted to do next and questioning if I wanted to continue in the same career, I left, knowing it was time.

The uncertainty provided an opportunity to look at everything. Same work, different organization? I really wanted to change careers, but what? Something related or maybe not? Change geo-location? Born and raised in Chicago, I have not ventured vary far, so I targeted three locations, and I continued to think about what to do next. Maybe it’s time to revisit a plan developed 20 years ago with a colleague that just sat – start a training consulting business. Years later, as this plan sat languishing and while doing my masters work, my professors commented on how I should be in consulting, reinforcing this ambition. So I began to think about why this plan just sat idle, and was it time to dive in and get started, and Madeline Parisi & Associates LLC was born.

What have I learned? A LOT! But I’ll target my top 5 business-focused learning experiences. Personal ones may come later.

1. If you no longer like what you are doing or where you are, you can only hide it for so long. Eventually everyone will know regardless of how well you think you’re hiding it. So move – now. Complacency will settle in. Fight. Move. Go. NOW!

2. Don’t let people impact your decision. I have friends and family who just don’t get it. Leave the security of a job especially in today’s market? They don’t get it and never will. Even the well intentioned who think they are neutral will ask everything negatively phrased. Make sure you surround yourself with people who support you. Negativity has no place in your life. This includes your self-talk.

3. Initially put all options out there. Don’t limit yourself. You never know when a contact will click or when an informational interview will lead to an opportunity. Looking at a new industry? Shadow someone. Let your network know you are open to all ideas. Let the universe know you are receptive to all it has to bring forward.

4. Once you consider all options you can then start to narrow your focus. Is it time to relocate? Start a business? What business, and solo or with a partner? Maybe start your business and once flourishing look at relocating. Just don’t start too narrow or you may miss a great opportunity. Be like a funnel – the top is wider to accept everything you pour into it and it does not narrow until the end.

5. Now you have decided what to do and to start your business. Don’t wait until you have all the details figured out and all the paperwork in place. Do not anguish over the business plan. The plan unfolds as you narrow the scope. If you think you need to start with a business plan and then build, you will miss many possibilities. (Yes, I now have a business plan and a marketing plan.)

Fear is often disguised as information gathering. Colin Powell coined the phrase “analysis paralysis” – don’t let fear cause you to remain stuck.

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