Are you at the crossroads of your career or considering jumping into the entrepreneurial arena? Join me in an enriching conversation with David Shriner-Kahn, a successful community builder and podcast host who knows a thing or two about managing career transitions and entrepreneurship challenges. Together, we unpack the importance of having a Plan B, managing fear during career shifts, and navigating the solopreneur business landscape. From our personal experiences, we provide actionable advice that can help you sail through your professional journey, especially if you're contemplating leaving your corporate job or are a budding entrepreneur seeking to hone your selling skills.
We start by exploring Plan B for mid-career professionals and share strategies on managing fear during career transitions. We also delve into why finding riches in the niches is a game-changer and the importance of reflection during career shifts. We then shift gears and discuss essential strategies for entrepreneurs, the current professional landscape's impact on mid-career professionals, and how to smoothly transition from being an employee to becoming an entrepreneur. Finally, we walk you through the ins and outs of running a successful solopreneur business, from mastering the art of selling to creating efficient systems and automating tasks. So, are you ready to break those career plateaus? Join us in this insightful conversation, and let's do this together!
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If you're gearing up to make a career transition or a job change, I know you don't want to make a mistake. It's why I created my free guide called Five Mistakes Mid-Career Professionals Make and Need to Stop Doing. You can check the show notes or visit my website, https://johnneral. com, to download your free copy today and let me help you start laying the foundation of those early building blocks as you build your mid-career GPS to whatever is next for you and your career. Do you have a plan B? There are many factors outside of your control that could change your career trajectory and livelihood. Case in point this year, we've seen layoffs in the tech industry. Many didn't think what happened. If you've ever been laid off or terminated, found yourself unhappy in your career, having a plan B is necessary before any of this happens. In this episode, I welcome back David Shriner-Cahn, who was on Episode 64. Today, we talk about how to create your plan B for your career, how to manage any fear you may have in the job market and why, when it comes to your career, there are riches in the niches. Let's get started. Today's conversation is particularly relevant as we begin the final quarter of 2023, but admittedly, this episode is relevant whenever you are trying to figure out whatever is next for you and your career. This whole idea about having a plan B is vital to you figuring out what's going to be next. My guest, David Shriner-Cahn, has a refreshing and unique perspective on how to protect yourself in your career. He's done it for himself and he helps people today do the same thing in his work. It is my pleasure to share my conversation with Smashing the Plateaus, David Shriner-Cahn.David Shriner-Cahn:
I can't believe it's a year since we had that conversation. John, thank you for having me back. I'm a podcast host and community builder, and the essence of what we have created is behind Smashing the Plateaus, which includes an online platform that offers resources and, in particular, accountability and camaraderie to high-performing professionals, specifically those that are making the leap from the corporate career track to entrepreneurial business ownership. So, whether you're working full-time in corporate and would like your future to be entrepreneurial you're in the process of that transition or you're out and you've been an entrepreneur for some time with a robust history of corporate work we have various kinds of resources that can support your journey.John Neral:
Well, David, this is one of the reasons why I wanted to have you back, because, being in the last quarter of the year, we know this is a time when many mid-career professionals start thinking about what's happened in the year, what they want the next year to look like professionally. Maybe some are thinking that, well, they didn't achieve all their professional goals this year. From your experience, what are some reasons why mid-career professionals are currently looking to leave their corporate jobs?David Shriner-Cahn:
Fear is a big reason. If you're over the age of 50 and you work full-time in the US, you have more than a 50% likelihood that you're going to experience involuntary job loss at some point in your future, and along with that can be some pretty significant financial consequences. So let's be honest, that ageism is a big part of this.John Neral:
Without question. It absolutely goes without question and, to your point, it is one of those things that leaves a lot of people fearful about what's going to be next for them, right?David Shriner-Cahn:
Now, in addition to that, John, there are things like I would like to have more control over my career destiny. I would like to have more control over how I spend my time. I'd like to have more control over who I work with, who I serve, who my colleagues are, how I spend my time every single day. That's a big part of it, but I think one of the things that keeps a lot of people awake is reality that the power dynamic between the employer and the employees. It's not an even playing field. The employer has the lion's share of the power.John Neral:
Yeah, yeah, that's a good point for us to always remember. And so when we think about that mid-career professional who is, let's say, holding that title of somewhere between manager, senior director they may be at the VP level, depending upon their industry and they're thinking about what's going to be next, right? So they're thinking about are they going to move into that quote unquote legacy position where they're hopefully going to retire from, or they're moving in to do something where they it lights them up a little bit more, they're more excited to go about doing that. What are some things that you can offer or suggest that these mid-career professionals should consider when thinking about what's next for them professionally?David Shriner-Cahn:
Well, john, the first one you already touched on, which is take some time to reflect, right? So if it's normal for you, towards the end of the calendar year, to do some reflection and soul searching as you prepare for the beginning of the new calendar year, that's great. For some people, summer is a time when there's a shift in what you do and how you do it and how much time you're actually spending in the day-to-day grind. So you could you know it's the most common timeframe when people take vacations so you could spend time part of your vacation perhaps thinking about. You're not focused on the kinds of things that happen every single day, so you have time to sort of sit and reflect, and maybe you start to read things that you don't read other times of the year, or you're in conversation with people that you're not in conversation with other times of the year. Whatever it is, the time for reflection and strategic thinking is. I would say that's like the number one.John Neral:
Yeah and I, as we're talking, david, you've got me thinking about my own journey and what that has looked like, and I remember when I started even entertaining the idea about what was going to be next, the notion of starting a side hustle for me was something which gosh. If I had known you eight years ago, right, we'd be having a completely different conversation in that regard. But for any mid-career professional that's thinking about starting a side hustle, what should they be considering?David Shriner-Cahn:
Okay. So first thing is, if you're considering a side hustle, you're already thinking about having a plan B, and I think one of the things that is critical when you're contemplating I think it's critical period, whether you're contemplating making any kind of change or not I think you always need to have a plan B, because plan A doesn't always work out the way we want it to work out. If you have a plan B, it can enhance your negotiation around plan A. So if you're, for example, you're negotiating for a raise with an employer, if you have a solid plan B that you could step away and step into, you'll be in a stronger position to negotiate, just like if you're looking for a new job. If you have two job offers on the table, whichever one is your first choice, you have a much stronger negotiating position if you have something else that you're also negotiating. So that's just plain and simple. Plan B helps you negotiate better terms what you're doing now, okay. So secondly, if you do want to go from being an employee to an entrepreneur, starting something concurrently with employment can be great, because it gives you a lot of flexibility to test the waters and what I would say, in particular for professionals that are leaving corporate to do something entrepreneurial. The most common path is to do something in the same discipline. It's not the only path and we have members of our community that have made professional pivots when they've gone from being an employee to being an entrepreneur. But I would say most of the people I see that do this mid-career and later tend to leverage the expertise that they've built up over 20 to 40 years as an employee, and that's sort of the starting point. So what is it so you can think about just in terms of entrepreneur is very broad. There are a lot of different ways to make money as an entrepreneur, but if you start off with your discipline assuming that you're good at it and you like doing it if you start off focusing on ways you can make money as an entrepreneur in your discipline versus as an employee, that's a great way to start.John Neral:
For anybody who works for an organization that is beholden to an outside working agreement. What advice do you have for them in terms of navigating that relationship, about handling the OWA where they're not going to get themselves in trouble with an organization when they start building that side hustle?David Shriner-Cahn:
Look at the terms of that agreement. Where are you excluded from working? And I would say you can do a deep dive on your skills and look at. There are two things that are important to look at in terms of your skills. One is what is it that you are most competent at doing? Second is what do you most love doing and spending your time doing? See where there's some points of overlap. And if you have an agreement that excludes you from serving certain kinds of clients or particularly kind of work, then you're going to, like when you draw a Venn diagram, you have the circle of the things that you love doing the most, you have the circle of what it is you're most competent at doing and then you have the circle of what you're not allowed to touch. You got to see where there is overlap of what you are allowed to do and just avoid what you're not allowed to do, and I think you'll find some points of intersection.John Neral:
Yeah, that's a really good point, because there's always a path in terms of what that side hustle could look like. What advice do you have for people who perhaps have to navigate a non-compete let's say, where they've left the organization and they're not allowed to compete or go against or go after certain clients they may have been working with, but that realm of work falls into exactly what it is that they love doing. What advice might you have for somebody there?David Shriner-Cahn:
You could start to look at your own personal history and work history and maybe see are there areas that are not related to my job and what I was paid for and where there is a non-compete, where I might be able to apply the same skills? So, for example, let's say you're in the financial services industry and you're excluded from working with certain kinds of financial service clients. Maybe you have done something as a volunteer with religious organization or a cause-based organization or multiple kinds of organizations with the same kinds of skills, for example, if you're really good at something related to finances. Those organizations in the nonprofit sector often lack the kinds of resources that can be helpful when they're struggling to try to raise money and use financial resources very effectively. So perhaps there's a way that you could do some consulting or coaching for pay in the nonprofit sector. The nonprofit sector is a big sector in the US and it is outside the US as well, and there are lots of ways that you can actually get paid doing things in the nonprofit sector. It's not just doing things as a volunteer. So that's just one example. So you need to maybe be a little bit creative in terms of your thinking about who you can serve. So maybe if you have a two-year non-compete, maybe for the first two years you look to three areas that fall outside that non-compete.John Neral:
That's very helpful and when we think about things that have happened this year in terms of what the professional landscape looks like. So we've heard things about quiet quitting. At the time of this recording, which is at the end of August, there was an article posted in the Wall Street Journal today about companies quietly cutting talent and getting rid of people. There's a lot of quiet stuff going on, david right, who knows what 2024 is going to bring? You talked earlier about fear, and so, for the mid-career professional that is considering building a side hustle, going out on their own, pursuing an entrepreneurial route, being a consultant, how good, in your opinion and your research, how good is the market right now for people to go out on their own and, additionally, what are some considerations they should have when building their business as an entrepreneur?David Shriner-Cahn:
Okay. So some people may not like to hear this, but if you go from a place where you're a high achiever, you're working in an organization, whatever size the organization is. You're there, you have a full calendar, overflowing inbox. There's this team of people that are responsible for all the things that you're not responsible for. There's a built-in social structure, and you're going to go out on your own where you start out with an empty calendar, empty inbox, no team, no social structure. You're spending all your time alone worrying about this new thing that you're trying to get off the ground. It can be daunting, and then you have to get up and market and sell something you've never had to sell before, namely yourself. And even if you're professionally in a marketing and sales role in a company, it's very different selling a company that gives you a paycheck versus selling yourself. So I would say the number one thing that you could get better at doing, or maybe learn how to do if you've never had to do it before, is to sell, because if you are really busy providing great value and impact for individuals or organizations and you're not getting paid, you have a hobby, not a business. And when I look at people that have made this transition. There are people that have really superb skills as employees and they have superb skills as entrepreneurs, but they can't sell. They have a real hard time making a living as an entrepreneur. When you're an employee, if you are not in the sales role, the company is feeding you the business. That's why they're giving you a paycheck, so you just have to do the work. As an entrepreneur, you've got to know how to sell, and when I see people that are mediocre in terms of the stuff that they deliver to clients, but they're really good at selling, they do better than that first category. I mentioned that people who deliver high quality results but can't sell. So the number one thing you need to learn how to do is to sell.John Neral:
All right. So for everybody who's listening, because you don't get the video with this, I pumped both of my fists in the air when David started giving his answer, because it's exactly my story in so many ways and I was so appreciate you going there, david, because that was exactly it. I did not know how to sell what I was offering when I started my business. I went from being a salaried employee who was making a little over $100,000 a year and by a little over I mean like $108,000. And my first year in my business I made $22,000. Because I didn't know how to sell. Now I knew how to coach, I knew what I was doing there, but where was I meeting people? Where was I? You know, how was I getting them to actually buy into my services? That was the hardest lift, I would say in the first 24 months of my business was exactly figuring out how the heck I was gonna sell what I was offering.David Shriner-Cahn:
I so appreciate you saying that. Yeah, and John, I was the same way. I went from being an employee, you know, long time employee, and first year I opened my business I had no idea how I was gonna sell and I didn't know how to sell. I was lucky in that I there was happenstance. I happened to sort of encounter people who made some referrals that turned into good business. It was also. I started my business in 2006. The economy was in really good shape. There was a lot of need for what I was offering and then, in 2008 came, the economy changed and all of a sudden, I was writing a lot of proposals and not getting much in the way of sales. So I started to look at what do I need to do differently so that, a marketing people became aware of what I was offering and, b I was then able to price things effectively and close some business and, in particular, close the kind of business that would lead to long-term success. So, yeah, selling is really critical. It's probably the most critical thing.John Neral:
Yeah, and it's. If there's a pet peeve that I have with the coaching business not the industry, but the coaching business itself is it's very easy to get wrapped up into this fantasy world of, oh, you're gonna offer coaching and everybody's gonna come to you and put a post out there on Instagram and have a reel that goes viral and stuff like that. I remember when the light bulb went off for me, david, because I remember getting an unsolicited message from somebody on LinkedIn and they were like would you like to have 250 extra leads in your inbox every month? And I remember looking at that and going no, I just need to increase my closing rate. I don't need more leads, I need to be better at selling. And so what happened at that point was I remember going oh, so if I could, even if I close at 50%, okay, if I close at 50% and I get 10 consults scheduled in a month, I've got more than a full coaching practice, because I was learning how to sell. I was learning how to offer more strategically what I was selling than in the past. So anybody listening that's like gonna send me an unsolicited message on LinkedIn. Please do it more mindfully, john. two out of seven figure business, not right now. No, yeah, yeah. So, david, so we think about all of this, right, and so we're saying, okay, so if we're gonna go on your business on your own, you need to learn how to sell. Can you talk with us a little bit about this whole idea of how important either we can call it self-image or self-concept is of the entrepreneur in terms of where their confidence and their competence lie in terms of building their business?David Shriner-Cahn:
Well, the competence. There's two different skill sets when it comes to competence. The first skill set is what you do in your discipline. So, whatever if you're a consultant or a coach or some other kind of offering some other kind of professional service, whatever solution you deliver to your clients, that's one set of competence. The other is how you actually build and run a business, which is a very different skill set. And yes, we just talked a lot about selling. So selling is one aspect of what it takes to build and run a business right. It is also administration. There's if you're running a business like John's or like mine, which is a very small business, it's primarily one person, and I use the term solopreneur, but solopreneur doesn't mean that we're actually doing everything solo, John and I haven't talked about this recently. But like I have a team, I'm sure John has a team, but you can build a great business. That's primarily one person, with various kinds of fractional people who are part of your team. So there's the whole issue of delegation. How do you run an efficient and profitable one person business with some kind of fractional support? How do you automate? How do you create systems? Because if you want your business to be profitable. Having solid processes and systems is really important. Another thing that's really important that especially professionals don't necessarily think about it you get paid well as an employee to solve complex, non-repeatable problems. As an entrepreneur, you get paid well to solve problems that are simple for you to solve, very repeatable, and you might, on the surface, think that it's boring, but that is a sign of a profitable business. So there's an expression the riches are in the niches. So finding something that's really narrow like I know somebody who runs a business that's all about making quick books easy to manage for nonprofit financial professionals Right, that's pretty narrow, yeah, Right, but it's a great business idea because A there's going to be less competition and it's the kind of thing that if you develop great processes for it and you need to keep teaching people how to get better at using quick books for nonprofits, there's a lot of stuff that's very repeatable for you as the business owner.John Neral:
Yeah, that's really good.David Shriner-Cahn:
Right. So these two different competencies is what you do in your discipline and there's what you do in running a solopreneur business.John Neral:
It's really helpful, david, and it's super clear for people who are listening to sit there and go okay, I need to be thinking about both of these things, right? So there's the business side, there's the selling side, and it's not just hey, I can throw up a website and throw up a shingle and wham, here we go. We know there's so much more to that, but sometimes what we see or consume content-wise, as you well know gets watered down a whole lot from the reality of what it truly is. For sure, yeah, yeah, Thank you for that. So, david, as always, time seems to fly by with you, and so we need to start wrapping up. But I'm going to change this question around for you a little bit, only because, just based on what we've talked about. So, david, for you, when you think about people who are looking to move up in an organization, or they're considering moving out by their own choice, or they have been moved out by their employer's choice, what advice would you give for someone to help them build their mid-career GPS at this stage in their career?David Shriner-Cahn:
So there are a few things. One is think about and actually create a plan for what you need financially Right. Financially, the financial circumstances are probably the most important component. Most of us don't have the luxury of never having to work to pay the bills. So, assuming that you need income in order to support your lifestyle, what does that income actually look like? And maybe you can come up with three scenarios, like what's bare bones, what would be comfortable and what would be a home run. Think also about how long it may take to get through a transition where you're going from an employee to entrepreneur until you think your business is going to be really sustainable, and I would say what I see as pretty common is about two years. So what kind of capital can you have access to whether it's savings or, if you do need to access credit for some reason, that you have access to it and think about ways that you can access the capital for a lot longer than you think it's going to take, because it often takes way longer than we think. So the financial piece is one and I would say the time plan is another one. So if money weren't an issue, how would you spend your time? What do you feel like the need that you have to control against, develop several scenarios with the use of your time and keep in mind you may not be able to achieve all of your ideal time goals in one step. So maybe think about this in phases like what would be great if I could do, if I could achieve the following within two years, what would it look like? And then how would I be using my time differently? And then the last thing that I think is really important and we sort of touched on this but really didn't go all that deep in this area, john which is think about who you need to spend your time with so that you can learn the business piece better, because if you've been in your profession for 10, 20, 30 years, you probably know it pretty well. If you've never run a business before, you probably don't know how to run a business all that well. So who can you spend time with that will help you learn what you need to learn as quickly as possible so that your business will be financially successful as quickly as possible. So think about who in your immediate circle can be supportive, and you may find, like I did, that many people that I knew really well or were part of my family, were kind of clueless and thought I was nuts to start a business in my 50s. If you have a significant other, he or she may or may not be on board with this. If that person is really supportive and on board, consider that a huge blessing, because if it isn't the case, then your significant other is going to be great for lots of things in your life, but maybe not for business discussions. Think about who you may be able to tap into to be a mentor, a coach, maybe a therapist, a faith or spiritual leader, because there are a lot of different aspects to what it takes in terms of our own mindset and our psyche and our confidence to be able to run a business. So there are a lot of different people that can be supportive. And the last one, which I think is one of the most critical ones, is who your peers are going to be that you can learn from. Also, you have skills where you can be helpful to them and you have experiences that could be helpful. Who are your peers where you can spend some time, who really understand what it's like to be an entrepreneur, and many people when they go from being an employee to an entrepreneur realize that they're professional colleagues that are part of their network or the wrong network to support them when they become an entrepreneur, and that's okay. You can seek out entrepreneurial colleagues. There are lots of ways you can tap into these communities. I run one, but I'm not the only one. There are business networking communities that focus on just filling your marketing and sales pipeline. There are masterminds and other kinds of communities that focus on business building and learning how to actually run a business. Some of them are very niche focused, some of them are not, but you really need to spend time with the right people. That's going to be critical.John Neral:
Yeah, so good, so good. David, I appreciate you so much and thanks for spending some time with us today. If people want to connect with you, they want to learn more about you, especially your work and your community. I'm going to turn the microphone over to you and please share with us all the details about how people can connect and find you.David Shriner-Cahn:
Thank you, john. So smashingtheplattocom is the repository of everything that we offer, which includes a weekly podcast, and I've been podcasting since 2014, so there are a lot of episodes on the website. Pretty much any topic related to being a corporate refugee going from employee to entrepreneur is in some episodes somewhere including an episode with John, yes, so the podcast is there. I send out a newsletter every weekday morning. One is focused on the podcast of the week and the others are business building tips, so it's meant to be a helpful resource that's also free. We run occasional workshops, and then we have the ongoing community with membership, and all the information about that is at smashingtheplattocom.John Neral:
Great, david. I will make sure all of that is in the show notes. My friend, thank you again for spending time with us today on the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Thank you, john. All right, my friends, as we wrap up today, here's the big, or here's the key takeaway for my conversation with David you need a plan B, whatever that is. Whether you are thinking about staying in your organization, have a plan B. If you're thinking about exiting your organization, have a plan B. Agism is real. Agism can affect us at no matter where we are in our career journey, but the important thing is that you are 100% responsible for your career. I hope today's conversation with David opened up for you the possibilities of what going into business may be for you and going out on your own, but to do it very strategically and intentionally, with some clear thought, research and savvy, to know exactly what it is you need to do to build the business you want once you decide to leave or if you decide to leave your corporate job. So until next time, my friends, remember this we build our Mid-Career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how we show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple podcasts. Visit JohnNarrowcom for more information about how I can help you build your Mid-Career GPS or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at John Narrow Coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters. You.