This post is written by Jen Havice, a forty-something blogger, writer, and social media consultant. When not helping small businesses navigate the social networking jungle or writing commentary for her humor blog, she chases after two large dogs and rides an even larger horse. She and her husband call Minneapolis home.
When I turned 40, something unexpected happened. I freaked out.
It happens to most of us at some point in our lives. We reach a milestone and suddenly find ourselves suffering from a bad case of existential angst. Something needs to change and it can no longer wait.
In my case, that something was a career (or lack thereof.) I had moved from city to city with my husband over the years for his job. I worked a bit here, volunteered there but, all in all, I never found my own path. Four years ago on my birthday, that all changed.
1. Stop Being Scared
I know that’s easier said than done. Believe me, I’ve spent the last 44 years being scared of something. I’ve been afraid of failure, success, offending someone, not being liked.
You name it, I feared it. The worst part, I allowed those fears to keep me from pursuing work I really wanted to do.
2. Just Do Something
I started writing and developed a blog. At first, there wasn’t much of a plan. This was good and bad. I needed some time at the beginning to figure out where I wanted to go.
I was not prepared to jump into a full fledged business. I knew I wanted to write online and create some sort of personal brand.
I also knew that getting bogged down in too many details before I had dipped my toes in the shallow end might have spelled the end before I had begun.
3. Get the Facts, Get Focused…
…and then worry about quitting your day job.
I spent well over two years writing social commentary, building up a following on my website and learning just about every possible way to use social media to get myself noticed.
That was all well and good but I wasn’t able to monetize it. I realized that I was tired of working for free.
At the same time, I had people coming out of the woodwork asking me for social media advice and help. “Why not integrate this budding social media consulting into my existing website,” I thought. I did and it was a bad idea.
For all intents and purposes, I had developed a personal brand with my social commentary blog. The people who came to it along with my Facebook page had certain expectations.
Getting social media tips were not part of them. My readers were confused. Engagement suffered. I was frustrated.
4. Find a Mentor and Make a Plan
I dawdled for more than a year, doing a bit of social media work while further muddling my brand. I finally understood that if I was going to make a successful go of my business, I had to brand it separately and take it seriously.
Part of taking a business seriously is investing in it and yourself. Coaches are not just for high school football teams.
There are plenty of people out there who can help you frame your business and get you moving down the right track. Hire one. It’s money well spent.
5. Work Within Your Skill Set
When I first started out, I let myself get overwhelmed. People would ask me to help them with certain projects and without delving enough into the nitty gritty, some of the time I would find myself working on things that were just beyond my skill set.
I would spend too much time on a task and then not bill for all of it. I was doing a disservice to both myself and my clients.
These days, I only take on work that I know I can do well and makes sense for my business. When I’m faced with something I need to get done, I ask myself if I have the time and skills to do it efficiently. If not, I outsource it.
Remember to take into account how much you charge for your time. If it takes you three hours to do something that will only take someone else 20 minutes, it probably makes sense to pay that person to do it. The frustration factor alone may be enough to tip the scales.
What is getting in the way of your business goals? Let us know what sparked you to start down a new path.