How to Use Your Current Job to Start Your Next Business
By: Solange Lopes
Many tend to believe that our regular jobs and careers are at diametrical opposites from our existing or potential businesses. Many, if not most, will draw a strict line between their 9-to-5 and their side hustles or businesses, as if the former has nothing to do with the latter.
Don’t get me wrong, there are instances when you must keep your day job and business, if you happen to have both, separate. Some companies are not keen on having their employees grow side hustles that may be in conflict with their main job responsibilities. Others just fear that their employees will not be as committed to their day jobs if they have a business on the side.
However, your job is not as diametrically opposed to your potential business as you may think. Your current job may actually help you start and grow your next business. That was the case for me, as the mission for The Corporate Sister was born out of my experience as a career woman and the needs for mentorship, guidance, and resources that I experienced as a working woman.
If you’re wondering how you can use your job to start and grow your next business, here are five steps you can take.
1) Make an inventory of all the skills you’ve acquired at your job.
Whether you like your job or absolutely dread going to work in the morning, the fact is that you are acquiring invaluable skills on a daily basis. For some, it may be dealing with customers, or managing a team. For others, it may be developing analytical skills or public speaking abilities. Whatever these may be, the added talents you’re gaining through your job on a daily basis are opening unlimited opportunities for you.
Take some time to periodically sit down and make lists of all these skills. This will require you to analyze your job activities so you can really understand what and how much you’re learning. This regular practice will also allow you to update your resume on a regular basis, and present yourself in a more comprehensive way professionally.
[Related: Time to Pivot: Taking Steps to a New Career]
2) Make an inventory of all your natural skills and talents.
There are also those natural talents and abilities that you’ve always had. You may not even fully realize you have them, since they come to you so naturally. For some of you, it may be a writing skill or unique communication abilities. For others, it may be an ease with public speaking or an unusual acumen for numbers.
In this case, as well, you may want to take some time to analyze your natural talents and abilities. Think of what people come to you most often for. What are you most known for? What do you do with such a natural ease and pleasure that you don’t even have to think about it? Most often, this is also what you wouldn’t mind doing even if you weren’t paid for it. Another good indicator is your hobbies and those pleasure activities you excel at.
Write them down as completely and in-detail as you can. If need be, you may take a few days to complete your list. Don’t hesitate to probe the people around you, from your management team and co-workers to your family and friends.
3) Assess the market for any needs that your skills can fill.
The next step is less introspective, as it will require you to take a look outside of yourself into the market that surrounds you. What do you think people around you need the most? What would you like to see implemented and acted upon? Remember that many businesses start out of a personal need.
Make a list of the market needs you’re identifying around you and connect these with your skills and talents, whether they’re natural or acquired through your job.
4) Proceed by elimination.
As you go over the various lists you’ve now created, start picking and choosing the opportunities that are most attractive to you. You may undergo a process of elimination involving your highest priorities, as well as your likes, dislikes, and general preferences.
As you go through this process, remember to keep in touch with your own internal compass. What stirs your soul the most? What appeals to your intuition? What would bring you the most joy and fulfillment?
5) Rinse and repeat.
This is not a one-and-done type of process. It may actually require many iterations over time to come up with the right business or side hustle for you. Don’t hesitate to rinse and repeat as much as you deem necessary.
A great side effect of this is that you tend to stay in touch with your growth and experience, which in turn helps you update your resume and elevator pitch more often and accurately.