‘Great opportunities brilliantly disguised as difficult problems’ – (Setting up a business in your 40’s)

‘Great opportunities brilliantly disguised as difficult problems’ – (Setting up a business in your 40’s)

For the first time in a while I heard this expression today – I’d forgotten how much I liked it!

Four of us were out for lunch, catching up, discussing our latest ‘horrors and highlights’ when one of the gang said she was changing job. A cheer came from the rest of us and Susie chipped in ‘toast, toast, get a round of drinks in!’

H wasn’t so sure if drinks were in order. It hadn’t quite been her choice, in fact it hadn’t been her choice at all. The business was restructuring, change of emphasis, blah, blah, but she’d decided to look at this as an opportunity to get out of what she’d been doing for 20 years, take the bull by the horns and set up her own business, nothing like what she’d done in the past, not finance, not analytics, she wanted to set up a fashion outlet online!

She has oodles of experience, bags of energy and as she said ‘I’m 46 but if we’re all living until at least 90 I’ve a lot of working life in me yet and I really feel I’ve a lot to accomplish in the next 20 or so years. I feel I’ve been working for everyone else up until now, proving I can do things and paying the bills, now I’d like to do something for me”.

‘Does that make me selfish’ she asked?

‘No’ we replied in unison ‘it makes you refreshingly honest!’

For isn’t it true there comes a moment when we all ask what are we doing this for and who are we doing this for? And if we’re going to do it every day for the rest of our lives we’d better enjoy it and start doing it for the right reasons.

And that’s when Susie said ‘it looks like a great opportunity to me brilliantly disguised as a difficult problem’. She’d already got the waitress’ attention and we did indeed toast to that.

Now whilst this isn’t going to be easy for H, she has got resilience, good friends and a real passion to deliver this and I know for sure she will. She also has friends who’ve been through sudden career changes too, like me!

I completely changed my career last year. Nothing like an election to change your fortunes! But change them it did.

At the time it’s difficult to explain how you cope or deal with it, but a year later it’s much easier to reflect and see what were the key things that contributed to your new direction and success.

My first bit of advice is  – don’t jump into anything.

I had people ringing me offering me jobs, some I couldn’t take – having been a Government Minister there are certain things you aren’t allowed to do and you also need clearance for what jobs you will be accepting – some I just didn’t want to do.

And that’s when taking time to choose and not jumping headlong into something is vital.

And if it’s a big change you’re about to undertake then you need to research the change, see how it will affect your life. If it’s a new business you want to start, research the demand for such a product, know who your customers will be, how much will your product cost, are your customers prepared to pay that? What are the set up costs, how long before you’re making money rather than just paying out? Sounds obvious but most people don’t do this homework before they start a business and then have to reshape it when they’re up and running. Remember most businesses go bust in the first year, so you don’t want that to be you.

Anyway over the course of the lunch, we had wished H well, toasted her several times and gave plenty of advice and I’m on standby by the phone.

We’re all out together in a few weeks time so we can see what’s happening and how it’s going. Ups, downs, warts and all.


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