Thursday, November 29, 2012

Maryl pitches: 4 tips to restart your work life

I attended a panel discussion last month titled “Own Your Future – Where to Start When STARTING OVER”. Love the title. It was hosted by The Thypin Oltchick Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship (TOI) and every seat was taken by women of all ages and backgrounds. Some of them (1) knew what they wanted to start up and were doing it; others just (2)had an idea they were tossing around in their head; the rest (3) hadn’t much of a clue. These types of gatherings can guide women in all three of these stages and are not only enlightening but also empowering. And they are ubiquitous too, offered by such organizations as Ladies Who Launch, Springboard, Golden Seeds and Women 2.0 to name a few that run similar workshops, seminars, conferences and training courses every week. (Just Google “women entrepreneur organizations” to find more and check a list from one of my earlier posts.)

But back to the four panelists, who are all TOI clients and recipients of their loan fund, and their four tips to restart your work life: 

1) Dare to Dream; Bow to Be Humble 

Denise Bogan is CEO of Custom Clean NYC, a company she started eight years ago. Hers is a typical story; she was downsized from her former company and couldn’t find regular employment. Denise wanted to take her economic and financial future into her own hands so she dared to dream, something not encouraged in her first job or life. She took her severance package and started a commercial and residential cleaning service with six employees. It was touch and go for a while but she learned to humble herself, cut her personal expenses and came up with a new business strategy. She decided to differentiate herself a bit by catering to her clients’ specific cleaning needs and that move has paid off for her.

2) Volunteer First; Spend Money Later 

Debbie Brilliant is the Founder of Brilliant Senior Voices 55+, a home business where she teaches diction and elocution to Boomers and Seniors who want to better themselves or try auditioning for voice over commercials. After a career as a voice over artist herself, she went back to college and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa at the age of 50. She took the cautious approach to starting her company through volunteering. It was an inexpensive way to test what new career path she would like and be good at. She also recommends making some money first before spending it to set up a formal business. 

3) Experience + Passion = Second Career

Barbara Feldman’s expertise was in selling technology to financial institutions but she was
an expert in relocation too since her 20+ year career required her moving over 20 times. She also volunteered a lot, and helping others made her tick. Barbara took that experience and her passion and started A NU START NY INC, a company that assists clients who want to downsize, transition or need to relocate for work. She did her research and learned that empty nester boomers would be a perfect and large target audience for her too. Barbara became a Certified Relocation and Transition Specialist, and is a Circle of Service Member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. 

4) Find a Niche and Maybe Some Luck

Gingie McLeod is a clothing designer who only ever wanted to work for herself. She founded Dindi Design LLC where she’s on contract with several international clothing manufacturers. She also has her own private label, SAINTCHIC. Gingie’s startup funding was both fortuitous and opportunistic and not your typical VC, Angel or Kickstarter models. It came from the insurance settlement from an unfortunate but not too serious taxi cab accident….a way to turn your luck around. Her niche is eco-friendly and sustainable design and that plus her skill in selling her ideas has made her company successful in a very short period of time. 

But setting out on your own is a BIG step and not for everyone. TOI offers a self evaluation tool and an assessment Q&A that can help with your decision making. Apparently an awful lot of women are making this leap with an estimated 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States today, up 54% over the past 15 years. These businesses generate nearly $1.3 trillion in revenue, up 58%, and employ over 7.7 million people, according to the second annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN. This exceeds the growth rates of all but the largest, publicly-traded firms.

I have a fifth tip: be willing to make some mistakes. I have a few aborted projects and a smaller bank account as a result BUT I learned from each of them and make better decisions now as a result. Share some of your tips, mistakes and success stories in the Comments area below or on our Facebook page. Let’s support each other as we restart our work lives.


  1. Inspiring and great tips! Thanks!!

    1. Thanks Ronnie. It helps that we can learn from each other.

  2. It's always great to hear from other women who have been where you are. Like a lot of writers, I am currently trying to figure out how to make an income in today's non-paying writing environment.

    One thing that has been very helpful to me is a business group I meet with every month. The group is made up of women who are all working to create their own niche as 'solopreneurs.' In addition to sharing our individual challenges and successes each month, we also have a formal discussion at each meeting. For example, we might watch a TED talk and discuss it, or have someone within or outside of the group give a presentation on a topic we all want to learn more about. For example, this month, we got some tips on planning and another time we had an outside speaker demonstrate the value of and how to make effective videos to promote our work.

    This interview I did last January with business guru, Margaret Heffernan, might also be helpful:

    1. Hi Judith, I have a similar entrepreneur group that meets once a month. We are not as structured as yours in that we don't have a different topic each time or outside speakers. Although I like the sound of that; there's always something new to learn. We go around the table to get an update of each member's business and where they might need some help. We then brainstorm and offer ideas and suggestions. It's all very supportive and I've become friends with several of these women. Yes, it's mostly women although a few men attend on occasion. I look forward to this meetup each month.

      Thanks for the Margaret Heffernan link. I like the idea that we shouldn't think about trying to return to the business world we left because it's all different now and some reinvention is in order. So much more to think about in this area.

  3. Thank you. I was pointed to this site with great timing. I recently started a snack bar company, raw/vegan bars. Similar to many of the "new lives" I was downsized and gained the courage to follow my dream when friends and neighbors raved about bars are made as a snack. I began receiving orders and decided to launch a campaign with bars as a perk to raise funds that would allow me turn out product more efficiently. I'm really proud of my campaign and I've received a lot of support. O allowed negative comments, from those in the cheap seats, to get to me a little yesterday. Great to read these stories of hope, struggle and ultimately perseverance.

    Thanks again. -Essie,

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