I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy who likes to think about stuff.
I gave a speech yesterday at the San Diego County Fair. I talked about my life from two years ago up until now. Two years ago, I was working at a job that I didn’t like and eventually quit. For the next eight months, I was unemployed, visiting my local library every day to pass the time. After eight months, I landed a contract job in a neighboring county. It was the first job I was offered. I was supposed to work there for a year but was only there for five months. The owners of the company decided that they didn’t need my services anymore and cut the contract short. Unemployed again, I was facing two options: look for another job at a company or strike out on my own.
The first option seemed like the safer one. In fact, after leaving the contract job, I started looking for full time employee opportunities. But something interesting happened. During job interviews, I noticed the unequal power dynamic between the interviewer and myself. Interviewers were the kings, lofting a job with benefits just out of my reach, and I was a peon, coming with my hat in hand begging for the job. I didn’t like it. That’s when I really embraced the second option.
I had to figure out what services I’d provide if I worked for myself. Being a patent agent was an obvious choice, as I had become one a few years prior. People always had invention ideas and I could help them turn those ideas into patent applications. I reached out to independent patent agents on LinkedIn to find out their experiences. I spoke to a few of them, and one even offered to pass along her client load to me. I was a bit apprehensive about it at first, but eventually came around. The old me would have never contacted anyone. I felt my confidence growing by the month.
What else could I do? I always enjoyed writing, so I thought I could be a medical writer. I also enjoyed attending conferences when I worked as an engineer, so I thought I could marry both interests. I now attend conferences in the area and write about them for a local blog.
I recently became a notary public because…why not? It’s something I can do between writing patent applications and conference articles. It was important to me to have multiple streams of income so I wasn’t relying on just one. If diversification works for stocks, it’s bound to work for jobs!
If you’re thinking about quitting your job and starting your own business, give it a shot. I suggest aligning yourself with those who have done it before. Join trade associations and the local chamber of commerce for networking opportunities. For instance, I joined my local chamber of commerce and the National Association of Patent Practitioners. Talk to anyone and everyone and never enter into a conversation with the goal of getting. Always give. Givers get back. I offer a monthly newsletter to my patent practitioner and writer connections. By doing that, I don’t feel as awkward asking them for help later on. And what if your business doesn’t pan out? Just look for another employer. No harm no foul.
I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I set my schedule and go after projects that interest me. I’m living a life I didn’t know was possible. You can, too.