Thinking through a Career Transition – Pilot and Framework

A question that I am frequently asked is “How did you take the plunge and ultimately decide to start your own business?” This wasn’t something that I impulsively decided to do – I didn’t wake up one morning and decide, “hey I’m gonna quit my job!” It was well thought out and something that went  through a number of different iterations and frameworks to land where I am today. I hope my experience and some of the resources I can share will be helpful for you, too.

A question that I am frequently asked is “How did you take the plunge and ultimately decide to start your own business?” This wasn’t something that I impulsively decided to do – I didn’t wake up one morning and decide, “hey I’m gonna quit my job!” It was well thought out and something that went  through a number of different iterations and frameworks to land where I am today. I hope my experience and some of the resources I can share will be helpful for you, too.


A Workshop


Although I started my own business just a few short months ago, I first thought of the idea more than a year ago at women’s leadership workshop sponsored by the NASDAQ entrepreneur center in San Francisco (a wonderful, free resource, btw).  During the workshop, we were doing silly communication-connection exercises and we were asked to tell our partner what we really wanted to be when he grew up. A moment of panic overcame me, but after talking it out – to this complete stranger – I realized that starting my own business was something that I had always wanted to do. By the end of the session, we were asked to speak in front of the group and and announce to everyone what we wanted to do. And that’s the first time I said I wanted to be a business owner outloud.

 

A Book


Flash forward to a few months later, and I found myself pretty unhappy with the current state of my then-job. It wasn’t anything in particular, more of a looming sense that everything I was putting in wasn’t being recognized in the way that I wanted it to be.I decided to do something about it. I read one of my former colleague’s books, Pivot by Jenny Blake, which I really can’t recommend enough. She emphasizes a few different steps about how to make your own career pivot and gives you a really good structure to do this. One of the pieces that she recommends is a pilot –  a small test of a future job that you actually want to do in the future, tested in a less-scary chunk. I decided to pilot a marketing consultancy business for a few friends of mine who were starting their own businesses, and I realized I loved being able to help them add value to their businesses.

 

Talking it Out


After the pilot I hadn’t figured everything out, but I knew that I wanted to make a change.  I talked to my husband, who has been an amazing partner through all of this, and talked through some of the things that I wanted in my next career move: flexibility, more time to explore other projects, and the ability to spend time with our (future) kiddos.

 

Building a Framework


I ended up developing a framework where I could have different options for my future career, mapped back to the things that mattered most to me.  Have a look at my framework here , You can see that I was all over the place – some of the things I explored were being a ski bum, traveling for a few months, going part time, going to another corporate job and starting my own company. When I looked at all of my options and took emotion out of it, I was able to rank these choices and see what my best option was depending on my priorities. For me, that ended up to be starting my own business.

Can everything be decided through a framework in a spreadsheet? No! But it certainly helped me make informed decisions, and took some of the chaos out of what seemed like an overwhelming level of information. I hope this is something that helps you and gets you on the right path. Please leave a comment and let us know what else you have done to help plot your next move.

Mary Sheehan is a co-founder of Bad Ass Lady Bosses and the founder of The Go-To Marketer.

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