But midway through life, you may realize that you want to take a new career path and start your own business — perhaps in an entirely different field.
Ulstad spent decades as a physician in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and in 1996, at 40, oversaw the merger of a group of cardiologists, becoming its interim chief. Yet despite her successful medical career, Ulstad felt she’d be happier doing something else after the merger went through.
Do you want to move into a new career or run your own business (even if you’ve never held a paying job before)? Here's what worked for Ulstad and Ogle:
- Figure out how best to use your skills. Don’t just leap at the first opportunity for change that comes along, Ulstad warns. Instead, take an inventory of your skills and determine how to use them in a way that will bring you joy.
- Educate yourself. You don’t need to snag a fellowship or two, the way Ulstad did. Local and community colleges often have a wealth of programs for would-be entrepreneurs, usually for a nominal cost. Your regional Small Business Development Center, run by the U.S. Small Business Administration, may offer classes or one-on-one coaching to help you turn your skills into a business.
- Moonlight. To keep income flowing in while launching her business, Ulstad worked part-time at a hospital, devoting the remainder of her hours to the consultancy. Ogle, too, kept practicing medicine while ramping up Partners at Cascade Bluffs.
- Cultivate your network. Since the consultancy relied mostly on networking to bring in business at the outset, the doctors’ hospital work was invaluable. Their “real jobs” kept them connected with hundreds of colleagues who could become prospects for their business. Today, referrals remain the main source of new clients for the firm.
- Stay true to your holistic vision. Even when they were practicing medicine, both doctors knew that, whatever they did in the future, it needed to include plenty of time for volunteering to make the world a better place. Before starting your business, devise a clear vision of how the work will fit into your life. Then stick to it.
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