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Starting a Business After a Career Setback

Guest post by Marissa Perez at

Career setbacks – job losses, industry downturns, promotions falling through, and you just get stuck –can be stressful, painful, and occasionally devastating. It may feel like the rug has been pulled out from under your feet, and all your well-thought-out plans have been tossed out the window.

Keep your chin up and try to find the silver lining amidst all the negativity. If life is giving you lemons, why not make some lemonade? Having a career setback means you likely now have extra time and energy on your hands. You’ve learned a lot along the way – put your experience and knowledge to use and launch your very own business.

In this mini-guide, Arche walks you through the process of starting a new business after a career setback, including tips on processing your setback, considerations to make when starting a business, and avoiding previous mistakes.

Heal your disappointment or grief

You may be feeling disappointment or even grief about the lost chance, opportunity, or career pathway. You may have put a lot of time and energy into it, for example, but it didn’t work out. It’s perfectly natural to feel this way. Give yourself some space to process the emotion (it will stay and hold you back, otherwise). Focus on healing.

Are you ready to be a business owner?

Being a business owner can be a wonderful, liberating experience. You can set your own goals, work your own hours, and create your own success. It can also be financially rewarding. Keep in mind, though, that it will also involve a lot of work – success very rarely happens overnight. It can be stressful and challenging. Moreover, setbacks and failures happen (and you will have to navigate through them). Are you ready for it all? We share some ideas on how to prepare yourself.

What is your attitude about failure?

As the University of Maryland can tell you, failure is a part of business success. You may end up failing with one or more aspects of your new venture. The way you deal with failure will determine your success. You could use it as a lesson and an opportunity for growth - or you could let it stop you in your tracks. Your outlook will drastically influence your eventual success.

Do you know about the different types of business ventures?

There are many different kinds of businesses you could launch. Researching your options is a good way to find one that best suits you. Some types of startup examples are lifestyle businesses, small businesses, scalable businesses, buyable businesses, and more. Lifestyle businesses are the ones that involve monetizing your lifestyle (more for the sake of living it than earning a profit). Small businesses are usually the easiest to start and require the least investment. The other business types require big budgets and, typically, expertise.

Brainstorm business ideas based on your interests

You likely have a slew of interests. You also probably have things you’re good at. When starting a business, you should preferably do something you’re interested in, have experience with, and are talented at. Some suggestions on thinking up ideas are taking an aptitude test, figuring out businesses you admire, and asking yourself what you’d do if you had unlimited time and money.

Do your market research

You may already have an idea of what you want to do – but it’s important you research market conditions before you proceed. Supply-demand, the competition, the economy, local conditions, and the future outlook all matter. Is your customer local or global? You might not sell much fishing gear in a big city so think about how you can market your new venture.

Create a business plan

How do you tell if your business is going to be profitable? You write a business plan. It will involve research, but it will help you nail down important details – the logistics, the funding, your business goals, processes, employees, and more. Having a solid business plan is often the difference between success and failure, so plan ahead.

Test and launch

If you have a product or service, it’s a good idea to test it next. Give it to a few people to try out, gather their feedback, and see if improvements are in order. If everything looks good, you’re ready to launch. Set up an online presence, market yourself (both online and offline), and focus on getting some good momentum going.

Make self-care a priority to relieve stress

Self-care will serve you well on your entrepreneurial journey. It can help you manage stress – being a business owner can be stressful – and also stay healthy, long-term. Some suggestions are meditating, eating a nutritious diet, exercising, and having a stress-busting hobby. A clean, organized, and a decluttered home can also help you to remain at peace and energized. If there exist any neatness or similar issues, address them to create a more positive, healing, and healthy atmosphere at home.

Learn from previous mistakes

Has the career setback in your life been caused by something in your control? If it was a mistake, you can learn from it and do better in the future. Don’t beat yourself up about it, though. When you start a business, make sure you avoid similar mistakes (or mistakes other entrepreneurs make, for that matter).

For example:

Doing what you love: Everybody tells you to do what you love, but that may not be practical or possible. You may be a great portrait painter, for instance, but it’s not going to work if there isn’t enough demand. Try to do something you’re good at (and you like or can tolerate) and that also makes money.

Failing to address your weaknesses: Everyone has weaknesses. It’s a good idea to figure out

yours and make sure they don’t hurt your business. A couple of ways to correct them are

educating yourself (like gaining appropriate skills) and delegating a specific task or responsibility to someone else. Arche can assist you with engaging, motivating, and inspiring employees.

Not researching enough: Finally, research is every entrepreneur’s best friend. Too many people start businesses and invest their hard-earned savings without ever considering this step – and invariably end up failing because of it, as Knox News can confirm. Research helps you identify opportunities, areas of focus, and – most importantly – the viability of your venture.

Being a business owner can be a very rewarding experience. But it also requires a lot of you (if you’re serious about making it a viable long-term initiative). Make sure you start your business with the right frame of mind. Research thoroughly, learn to think like an entrepreneur and keep moving forward.

Arche helps people architect, navigate and advance their career path with expert advice and tools to support your job search, interview preparation, professional branding, salary negotiations, and career advancement.

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