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3 Ridiculously Easy Steps to Creating an Unstoppable Business Idea

3 Ridiculously Easy Steps to Creating an Unstoppable Business Idea

If I had a dime for every time I heard someone say “I want to start my own business…but I just don’t have a good idea”, I’d be so rich that I’d spend my days sipping overpriced cognac and smoking pre-embargo Cuban Cigars and making stodgy, incomprehensible jokes that only rich people find funny (“…and he took $5 million out of the QTIP trust and bought puts on gold! Ha!”), and as such probably not writing this article.

So consider yourself lucky I don’t get paid when I hear that, lest you be unable to bask in the wisdom that I am about to impart.

    My cigar-smoking fantasies aside, it’s actually a bit concerning how many people think it’s really hard to come up with a good business idea.  Veteran entrepreneurs all know that coming up with an idea is basically the easiest part; but you do need to start with an idea.

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    And starting with an idea I shall help you do.

    One of the big reasons you have trouble coming up with a good idea is because “you don’t know if it will work”, right?

    Luckily, in 3 ridiculously simple steps, you can see how good your idea is, and make it stronger.  Here it goes:

    Step 1: Start with a broad idea

    Let’s say you want “a kick ass social network for cereal box collectors”.  I’d say “that’s really weird”, but this is your company, not mine.

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    And by the way, no “I can’t come up with one!” BS.  This is just a broad idea.  Think…think…there you go.

    Step 2: Write down 3 specific reasons your idea might not work

    Not a whine, not “because 90% of business fail!”; be intellectually honest, think about it for more than 7 seconds.  Relate them to your own abilities and relevant externalities.  For example:

    – “I don’t know how to code”

    – “I don’t know if there’s actually other cereal box collectors out there”

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    – “Even if there are other collectors, I don’t know if they need a social network”

    Step 3: Test your reasons

    I don’t want to steal any of Bill Nye’s thunder, but what we’re doing here is bringing you back to 7th grade biology and using the scientific method.  We’re turning your worries into testable hypotheses, and doing some ol’ fashion exploring to see if your worries hold true.

    You go out there and see if there’s a way to make a social network without coding.

    You mercilessly scour the far corners of the internet looking for cereal box collector communities.

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    You identify the “thought leaders” in the community, befriend them, and ask what they need.

    I spent about 12 seconds doing these tests, and here’s what I came up with:

    • You can make a social network without knowing how to code.  There’s quite a few ways to do it, but BuddyPress seems to be the most popular.
    • There are communities out there for cereal box collectors like you (just Google “cereal box collector”).
    • The community seems to be gathered around a few active forums.  Finding the community leaders would likely be very easy.  Just shoot them a quick e-mail with your idea, and ask “what do you think?”

    And voila, your idea awaits!

    What we did here was get specific about your idea.  Whereas most people worry that “their idea would never work”, you actually went out there and did something about it.  You’re now ready to move onto the next step: figuring how to execute.

    Or maybe you figured out your idea sucked.  That’s okay too.  But at least you made an informed decision, and unlike 80% of people, you actually tried to do something about it.

    Your idea’s probably more complicated than something like this, and that’s fine.  But the point stays the same: stop worrying, start testing, and repeat.  Watch your idea develop before your eyes.

    Featured photo credit: five travel about locomotive costing on rail via Shutterstock and inline photo by Tsahi Levent-Levi via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Last Updated on April 6, 2020

    How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

    How to Make a Career Change at 50 for Great Opportunities

    Turning 50 is a milestone in anyone’s life, after all you are half way to 100! But seriously, turning 50 is often a time in life when people can sit back and take a look at where they’ve been and contemplate what the future holds.

    Can you change careers at 50? It’s not uncommon for people in their 50’s to consider a career change, after all if you’ve spent 20 to 30 years in a career, chances are that some of the bloom is off the rose.

    Often, when we are starting out in our 20’s, we choose a career path based on factors that are no longer relevant to us in our 50’s. Things like our parents’ expectations, a fast paced exciting lifestyle or the lure of making a lot of money can all be motivating factors in our 20’s.

    But in our 50’s, those have given way to other priorities. Things like the desire to spend more time with family and friends, a slower paced less stressful lifestyle, the need to care for a sick spouse or elderly parents can all contribute to wanting a career change in your 50’s.

    Just like any big life changing event, changing careers is scary. The good news is that just like most things we are scared of, the fear is mostly in our own head.

    Understanding how to go about a career change at 50 and what you can expect should help reduce the anxiety and fear of the unknown.

    What are Your Goals for a Career Change?

    As in any endeavor, having properly defined goals will help you to determine the best path to take.

    What are you looking for in a new career? Choosing a slower less stressful position that gives you more time with family and friends may sound ideal, but you’ll often find that you’re giving up some income and job satisfaction in the process.

    Conversely, if your goal is to quit a job that is sucking the life from your soul to pursue a lifelong passion. You might be trading quality time with family and friends for job satisfaction.

    Neither decision is wrong or bad, you just need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of any decision you make.

    Types of Career Changes at 50+

    There are four main types of career changes that people make in their 50’s. Each type has it’s unique set of challenges and will very in the degree of preparation required to make the change.

    Industry Career Change

    In this career change, a person remains in the same field but switches industries.

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    With an industry change, a person takes their set of skills and applies them to an industry that they have no previous experience in.

    An example would be a salesperson in the oil and gas industry becoming a salesperson for a media (advertising) company. They are taking their skill set (selling) and applying it to a different industry (media).

    This type of career change is best accomplished by doing a lot of homework on the industry you want to get into as well as networking within the industry.

    Functional Career Change

    A functional career change would be a change of careers within the same industry.

    For example, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company who changes careers to become a human resources manager. It may or may not be with the same company, but they remain within the pharmaceutical industry. In this case, they are leaving one set of skills behind (accounting) to develop a new set (human resource) within the same industry.

    In a functional career change, new or additional training as well as certifications may be required in order to make the switch. If you are considering a functional career change, you can start by getting any training or certifications needed either online, through trade associations or at your local community college.

    Double Career Change

    This is the most challenging career change of all. A person doing a double career change is switching both a career and an industry.

    An example of a double change would be an airline pilot quitting to pursue their dream of producing rock music. In that case, they are leaving both the aviation industry and a specific skill set (piloting) for a completely unrelated industry and career.

    When considering a double career change, start preparing by getting any needed training or certifications first. Then you can get your foot in the door by taking an apprenticeship or part time job.

    With a double change, it’s not uncommon to have to start out at the bottom as you are asking an employer to take a chance on someone without any experience or work history in the industry.

    Entrepreneurial Career Change

    Probably one of the most common career changes made by people in their 50’s is the entrepreneurial career change.

    After 20 to 30 years of working for “Corporate America”, a lot of people become disillusioned with the monotony, politics and inefficiency of the corporate world. Many of us dream of having our own business and being our own boss.

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    By this time in our life, we have saved some money and the financial pressures we had with young children have passed; so it’s a perfect time to spread our entrepreneurial wings.

    Entrepreneurial career changes can be within the same industry and using your existing knowledge and contacts to start a similar business competing within the same industry. Or it can be completely unrelated to your former industry and based on personal interests, passions or hobbies.

    A good example would be someone who played golf as a hobby starting an affiliate marketing website selling golf clubs. If you are considering an entrepreneurial career change, there are a lot of very good free resources available on the internet. Just be sure to do your homework.

    Practical Tips on Making a Career Change at 50+

    So you’ve decided to take the plunge and make a career switch in your 50’s. No matter what your reasons or what type of a career change you are embarking on, here are some helpful hints to make the transition easier:

    1. Deal with the Fear

    As stated earlier, any big life change comes with both fear and anxiety. Things never seem to go as smoothly as planned, you will always have bumps and roadblocks along the way. By recognizing this and even planning for it, you are less likely to let these issues derail your progress.

    If you find yourself becoming discouraged by all of the stumbling blocks, there are always resources to help. Contacting a career coach is a good place to start, they can help you with an overall strategy for your career change as well as the interview and hiring process, resume writing / updating and more. Just Google “Career Coach” for your options.

    I also recommend using the services of a professional counselor or therapist to help deal with the stress and anxiety of this major life event.

    It’s always good to have an unbiased third party to help you work through the problems that inevitably arise.

    2. Know Your “Why”

    It’s important that you have a clear understanding of the “why” you are making this career change. Is it to have more free time, reduce stress, follow a passion or be your own boss?

    Having a clear understanding of you personal “why” will influence every decision in this process. Knowing your “why” and keeping it in mind also serves as a motivator to help you reach your goals.

    3. Be Realistic

    Take an inventory of both your strengths and weaknesses. Are your organizational skills less than stellar? Then, becoming a wedding planner is probably not a good idea.

    This is an area where having honest outside input can be really helpful. Most of us are not very good at accurately assessing our abilities. It’s a universal human trait to exaggerate our abilities while diminishing our weaknesses.

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    Requesting honest feedback from friends and co-workers is a good place to start, but this is another area where a career coach can come in handy.

    4. Consider an Ad-Vocation

    Sometimes, making a career change all at once is just too big of a change. Issues like a severely reduced income, geography and lack of benefits can all be impediments to your career change. In those cases, you may want to start your new career as an ad-vocation.

    An ad-vocation is a second or ad-on vocation in addition to your primary vocation. Things like a part-time job, consulting or even a side business can all be ad-vocations.

    The benefit of having an ad-vocation is being able to build experience a reputation and contacts in the new field while maintaining all the benefits of your current job.

    5. Update Your Skills

    Whether it means acquiring new certifications or going back to school to get your cosmetology licence, having the right training is the foundation for a successful career change.

    The great thing about changing careers now is that almost any training or certifications needed can be free or at very little cost online. Check with trade associations, industry websites and discussion groups for any requirements you may need.

    Learn How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive.

    6. Start Re-Branding Yourself Now

    Use the internet and social media to change the way you present yourself online.

    Changing your LinkedIn profile is a good way to show prospective employers that you are serious about a career change.

    Joining Facebook groups, trade associations and discussion boards as well as attending conventions is a great way to start building a network while you learn.

    Here’re some Personal Branding Basics You Need to Know for Career Success.

    7. Overhaul Your Resume

    Most of us have heard the advice to update our resume every six months, and most of us promptly ignore that advice and only update our resume when we need it.

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    When making a career change, updating is not enough; this calls for a complete overhaul of your resume. Chances are that your current resume was designed around your old career which may or may not apply to your new goals.

    Crafting a new resume emphasizing your strengths for the new position your looking for is key. There are many places that will help you craft a resume online and it is a service included with most career coaching services.

    8. Know Your Timeline

    There are a lot of factors when it comes to how long it will take to make the career change.

    Industry and Functional career changes tend to be the easiest to do and therefore can be accomplished in the shortest period of time. While the Double Career Change and the Entrepreneurial Career Change both require more effort and thus time.

    There are also personal factors involved in the time it will take to switch careers.

    Generally speaking the more you are willing to be flexible with both compensation and geography, the shorter time it will take to make the switch.

    Final Thoughts

    Changing careers at anytime can be stressful, but for those of us who are 50 or above, it can seem to be an overwhelming task fraught with pitfalls and self doubt.

    Prospective employers know the benefits that come with more mature employees. Things like a wealth of experience, a proven work history and deeper understanding of corporate culture are all things that older workers bring to the table.

    And while the younger generation may possess better computer or technical skills than us, if you’re willing to learn, there are a ton of free or nearly free resources available to you.

    Deciding on a career change at 50 is a great way to experience life on your own terms.

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    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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