Thursday, January 29, 2009

Making Your Career Passion A Reality While Working 9 to 5

This week’s “Business Question Of The Week” comes from Jasmine Johnson, Los Angeles, CA.

Question - Many times people have to take a job because they have families to support or bills to pay. When they finally make the decision to follow their passion, but still have to keep their job to pay the bills, how should they go about this process?

Omar Tyree Answers:

That is an excellent question and indeed a tough situation to be in. Let me begin to answer the question by saying this; when I was a senior undergrad at Howard University, I often heard my peers discuss entrepreneurship as a ten-year goal. They all had this idea that they would work for the system for ten years, learn everything they needed to learn through their experiences there, and then break away and start their own company within the same field. And although the ten-year plan seemed to make perfect sense to them, it didn’t make as much sense to me. The reason being was that it takes money, time, sacrifice and plenty of active effort to start your own company, which I did at age 22. But far too many of my peers had the idea that entrepreneurship would somehow be easier once they had put in ten years for a parallel company.

On the contrary, I believed that, since we are all humans with needs and greeds, in ten years, you would most likely be married, with kids, a home, cars, and bills up the wazoo that would inhibit you from saving the money, having the time, being able to make the sacrifices, or having the leftover energy that is needed to make the effort to create your own successful company. My idea was to go right at your career goals much earlier, if not from day one. Why? Because you’re a broke college grad, who hopefully has no kids or family to provide for yet, no big bills to pay (outside of your workable college loans), and you have tons of energy, tons of optimism, older professionals, who are willing to teach you added skills on the fly, and your sacrifices are much smaller because you don’t have anything to lose yet.

As the saying goes, “Youth is wasted on the young.” And while you’re still young, you want to take full advantage of having nothing to lose. So please, start your Love goal, EARLY, and with plenty of internships in your given field for 1-3 years instead of working there for ten.

Now let me answer your question. If it is now too late for you to drive toward your career goal early, and you have all kinds of responsibilities as on your shoulders, then you must now make the extra time to keep your bill-paying job while VOLUNTEERING to help out in a field of your passion whenever you can. And you do that until you can find an in to make money from that passion, while still holding onto your bill-paying job. Most companies won’t pay you to learn. And if you can’t find the time to make that grown-up internship happen, then get ready to go Kamikaze and live or die to succeed on your own merit away from the company experience.

But the reality is this; you will still need time to sharpen your skills in your field of passion to create the valuable Art that people will see as a product or service worth paying for. And there is no short regarding the time that will be necessary.

Then you would have to receive the Support of your family members to allow you to do it. Your wife or husband and kids will all need their time. So now they are forced to sacrifice with you. In some cases, like with many immigrants who relocate to new countries, their whole family gets involved. So you put the wife and husband and kids to work with you. But that sacrifice; to acquire real skills through time, must happen to become serious about making a career change. You are essentially starting back over from the bottom, which again is much easier to do when you’re young and unattached. You also have to build the Support of customers who are unfamiliar with you. Just because you worked for the company for ten years doesn’t mean that you’ve earned any trust in your own name. So you now have to earn public Support for your individual skills and company.

Lastly, we need to talk about income and investment. And unless you have an able or willing relative or friend, or you can talk someone into investing in your passion, or acquire a small business loan, money must be built, invested and multiplied for your passionate career to become an ongoing reality. Otherwise, your goal can become a very time consuming hobby at the expense of everyone around you. Therefore, tough Business decisions will need to be made to survive, which is actually a good thing. You will learn to be in Business by not having a choice. But do you and your family have the courage to try?

With the state of the present world economy going sour, we are all under the gun. But those who will best survive these times of hardship are those who learn what it means to get started, acquire the needed skills, make the necessary partnerships and sacrifice. You must tighten up your living expenses, ride it out, and make sure you find folks who are willing to pay for the products and services that you have to offer them.

The Equation does not change just because you have more responsibilities that are holding you back from starting your career goals. You simply have to make the adjustments now, with a solid plan that you can stick to. And if nothing you do works, then keep that bill-paying job until you can find another opportunity to attempt your career passion successfully.

If you have any questions you would like me to answer, please email them to

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