Corporate


In this down-turned economy, I get a lot of prospective clients telling me, with almost an apology, “You know Brian, what I REALLY want to do with my life is become a Travel Writer.”  And then they follow with a chuckle, “But, come on, how does one do that?  It’s not feasible, is it?”

My reply:  You won’t know unless you try it out.  But, yes, it can be done!

Now, granted, it goes without saying that travel writing is a competitive business.  Who doesn’t want to travel to cool places and write about them and give one’s suggestions and recommendations to others, right?  Sign me up!   The reality is, however, that the world of magazine, newspaper and book publishing is in a paradigm shift.  Dollars are fewer.  Advances are nearly gone.  And the hours to make the dollars are longer.  And, yet, people DO succeed as writers — and, yes, you Rick Steves wannabes, even travel writers.

Why?  Because many of us still love to travel, fantasize and plan where we will visit some day or because some of us still place importance of travel and exploration high on our list of things to do in life and budget accordingly each year.  Also, corporations and organizations are still sending their employees out on business trips — and the employees want to combine some fun exploration along with their business meetings.  People are not staying at home, folks.  The “staycation” thing only goes so far to feed one’s soul.  Hence, it’s Economics 101:  Supply and demand.  There is still demand for travel writing.  There are still readers.  And as long as there are still readers, there are advertisers and sponsors….and, hence, travel writers will be employed.  Yes, the Great Recession has made the field even more competitive.  The cream rises to the top.  Yes, the ad dollars are down.  No, you might not become a fairly wealthy travel writer like Rick Steves but, YES, you CAN make a decent living at it.

How?

AOL just wrote about one of our former clients, Craig Zabaransky, this past week.  He went from working the corporate life as a consultant in the finance sector in Manhattan…to getting laid off…to having his office become his laptop and mobile phone.  Yep.  Craig has become a full-time travel writer this past year!  He offered up some great advice on how to become a travel writer on AOL…..

http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2010/03/11/management-consultant-to-travel-writer/

I need to put in a little plug for Craig’s amazing travel writer mentor, Ron Stern.  Craig’s transition was made easier due to Ron’s advice, expertise and hands-on mentorship while on Craig’s Travel Writer VocationVacation (which was a gift from Craig’s fiance, how cool is that?) in March, 2009.  He has helped Craig and many other aspiring travel writers create their tangible, common-sensible, realistic action plans for their part-time or full-time (as is the case with Craig) career transition.

So, if you want to become a travel writer — part-time or full-time — you CAN do it.  Even in this economy.  Craig is proof in the pudding.  Congratulations, Craig!

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Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love: www.amazon.com

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I am a corporate refugee.  I got laid off from a corporate job in September, 2001.  I decided to take some time off to decide what my game plan was.  I flew to the Canadian Rockies from Chicago to relax a bit.  That was on Sept 10, 2001.  Luckily, I was in no way directly impacted by 9/11….but the horrible events DID confirm my desire to be an entrepreneur.  Life is indeed short, I thought.  Now was my time to really explore my passions.

Amazingly, almost eight years have passed.  I did become an entrepreneur.  And, on the most part, I truly love it.  When I get asked the question by either my VocationVacations or Brian Kurth + Company career consulting clients if I think they should become an entrepreneur, I always “answer” them with a set of questions.  I will share them with you now.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Becoming An Entrepreneur

1.  Can I live like a student again?

Seriously.  I’m not talking about downgrading one’s car from a Mercedes to a Suburu.  We’re talking about driving your existing car into the ground.  I’m talking about a night out on the town is a $10 Thai dinner with a $4 beer versus a high-end restaurant and an evening at the symphony or going to an NFL game.  Vacation?  Your business is now your vacation.  Rather than booking a trip to Hawaii in January, you’re going to need to simply take a day off from your business and find a wonderfully, relaxing thing to do much closer to your hometown.  The bottom line is that you need to cut back ALL expenses if you are going to become an entrepreneur.  Regardless of how much money you have in the bank.  Because you know what?  Being an entrepreneur takes a minimum of TWICE as long and TWICE as much money/savings as you will ever plan.  Trust me on that.  I know first hand.

2.  How strong is my relationship with my spouse, family and friends?

You need support.  On the days where you can feel your hair falling out, turning gray, or both, you need your cheerleading team.  If your spouse is not on board with you, you have a HUGE problem on hand (one that may require a relationship therapist versus my dime-store, non-professional assessment here).  That’s a show-stopper, in my opinion.  I don’t know a successful entrepreneur who has a nay-saying spouse.  So, get your cheerleading squad together.  I have mine.  They come and go as to who’s cheering the loudest at any given time but I know I can count on not only my partner, Wade, but also my 85-year old Dad, my siblings and friends such as Gwen, Carolyn, Glenn, Anne, Heidi and Curtis.  They have been there for me since Day One.  They don’t pretend to have the answers or solutions along the way.  They simply LISTEN and tell me that no matter what, I will succeed.  It works.

3.  Is “resiliency” my middle name?

Get ready to get slapped down.  And I mean SLAPPED in the face.  Hard.  Like when Cher slapped Nicholas Cage in “Moonstruck’.  You might be slapped down by a banker saying “no” to your loan request.  You might be told by a prospective angel investor that your ideas suck beyond belief and that you might as well go back to your Dilbert cubicle now.   You may be slapped down and rejected by a potential business partnership that could have really grown your business despite your kick-ass proposal to them.  You might be turned away from the biggest media appearance ever that could have driven a ton of business your way because there was a communications snafu (true story on my end — I’ll share with you if you buy me a beer sometime).  The point is that you MUST be resilient beyond belief to be a successful entrepreneur.  Soak in the rejection.  Take it.  Acknowledge it.  Learn any key take-aways….but MOVE ON.  I invite you to find a successful entrepreneur who hasn’t struggled through rejection.  Resiliency is key.

4.  Can I hold positions in the following “departments”?  IT.  Legal.  Accounting.  Operations.  Marketing.  Sales.  Business Development.

This is near and dear to my heart.  Almost every day I want to pick up the phone and call the IT department.  Or general counsel.  Or accounting.  But, I then realize.  Damn!  I (!) am all of those.  I am my own IT on the most part with the able assistance of Melissa Townsend.  If it weren’t for Melissa over the years, this technophobe clearly would have somehow mistakenly clicked on some wrong button and would have dropped a bomb on North Korea or something.  Meanwhile, although we don’t have accounting and legal in-house at my companies, I must make phone calls to those INCREDIBLY important people in my life on a regular basis.  Honestly, I love my accountant and attorney.  As I should.  They’re expensive people to call.  Since you have to spend the big bucks on these two people to make your business run, you have to respect them and feel their advice is sound.  You do NOT want to cut corners when it comes to your accountant and attorney.  Now, it just so happens I really like both of mine.  That matters too.  You want them to be on your cheerleading team even though you are paying them to be on it.  Meanwhile, operations is something I want done and I want it done right.  But don’t make me cut payroll and vendor checks.  Well, guess what, at ANY time in the process, an entrepreneur needs to know how to cut checks, for example.  It may be the responsibility of your (future) operations manager but you too need to know how to pay your people.  They depend upon you.  My personal strengths generally lie in sales and marketing so I’ve been able to take on those on the most part.  But you get my point.  An entrepreneur wears ALL of these hats.  You need to be prepared to manage it ALL at the beginning.

5.  Is my business my child?

Yes, it is.  If you answered “no”, you’re getting your first slap as an entrepreneur.  From me.  Starting, growing and managing a business runs much like the growth of a child.  At one year, it still needs constant nurturing.  At three years old, it runs….but falls down and scrapes a knee or two and comes crying back to you.  VocationVacations, for example, is a very precocious five-year old.  It’s gaining independence but in doing so, it will at times surprise me with a need for a “time out”.  For example, this week we have been battling with our web hosting company (which will remain nameless) regarding some serious email server issues.  I want a break.  I don’t want to be dealing with it.  But, I must.  The five-year old demands it of me.  You get my point.  You MUST think of your entrepreneurial endeavor as a child and how you will raise it or, in my opinion, it won’t grow up.  But the good news here is that it DOES grow up.  And when it does, you will have earned financial security, time flexibility and overall independence.  And it’s worth it.

After asking myself these questions, would I still become an entrepreneur or does the fluorescent-lit cubicle look better to me now?  Oh, I’m still the entrepreneur.  For sure.  But I’ve had to work really hard along the way.  Entrepreneurialism is not for the faint of heart.

So, if you’re thinking about opening a bakery…becoming a free-lance writer…starting a dog-daycare center…starting your own marketing firm or whatever your passion is, I am a huge proponent and cheerleader for you.  But DO ask yourself those 5 questions before you forge down the WONDERFUL journey of entrepreneurialism!

GOOD LUCK!

Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

I’ve been chatting with a lot of HR directors over the past few months.  They’re gearing up for the economic recovery.  Yes, you read that right.  They’re gearing up for the economic recovery!  For real.

JUST last night on the airport shuttle to my hotel, I was chatting with three HR managers who work for a large corporation and the manager who heads up the recruiting side of things said that she has had an open position every single day through this recession AND she’s gearing up to hire more people.  But it’s not just new hires that I’m finding exciting.

Additionally, companies are looking to expand their in-house mentorship programs.  And what I’m most excited about is the incredible interest in not only setting up a standard mentorship program where a more senior manager mentors a junior manager, etc.  but what I’m most excited about is the interest from HR managers in “shaking things up” with their employees and provide them short-term, small-group mentorship experiences OUT of the office.  What I call Mentorship 3.0.

The Brian Kurth + Company team is ready to assist.  We have mentors in nearly 100 vocations who offer the HR managers’ in-house clients the opportunity to gain key team-building, leadership, project management and communications.  The small corporate teams (4-10) getting the mentorship will then be able to use the 80/20 rule back at the office.  In other words, 80% of the mentorship experience that the Chocolatier (or Animation Producer, Dog Daycare Owner, Wine Maker, and the list goes on) mentor provides regarding business leadership, projection management, communications, etc. can be applied to an IT department at a healthcare provider or to the marketing team at an ad agency, and so on, and so on.

So, I’m here at the SHRM (Society of HR Management) conference in New Orleans.  And I’m really excited to chat a lot about Mentorship 3.0.  Let the paradigm shift begin!

Are you here too?  Let’s meet up!  Email me at brian@briankurth.com

Cheers,
Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step By Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love (Hachette, 2008)