Laid off? Tired of age discrimination? The answer may be … your side hustle.

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Linda had been growing tired of her job. She’d been moving up the ladder, from one challenging position to another. Now she was stalled. She had a strong suspicion she was on the wrong end of age discrimination, but couldn’t see a way out.

Mark had plateaued. He didn’t see a path that excited him. His company had no opportunities. Besides, he had always wanted to do something with his love of music and spend more time in the outdoors.

Both Linda and Mark are looking at online businesses. I often work with clients like them because I have experience with career change as well as business. And I’ve seen many people transition from corporate jobs to successful online businesses, working on their own terms. Those who succeed are willing to work. They also get a strong sense of what their audience wants and they understand the need to share their stories.

An online business is not for everyone.

It’s not for everyone. If you are a totally outgoing person, you may go nuts sitting in front of a computer screen all day. You may need a face to face office and human contact.

On the plus side, you skip all the messy office politics. No more dressing up. No parking. No sales calls or boring networking meetings. You run your own schedule. You’re home with the kids and dogs.

Of course, being an online business owner doesn’t mean saying good-bye to face-to-face interactions. Depending on your business model, you may base all your marketing on live networking, live events or live speaking.

So where do you start?

Many career changers think the first step is to get a business idea and then find a web designer. In fact, what you need first is an awareness that you can deliver something that a sizeable number of people fervently desire. That’s the most difficult part — or the easiest. Once you’ve nailed this, the rest is downhill.

When I work with clients, we often discover they have something to offer that didn’t seem important to them. For instance, I worked with a senior sales representative who had always marketed large systems. He had considered developing a tech service to sell to small businesses. As we talked, he realized he could coach other business owners in sales skills. It hadn’t occurred to him that these skills were valuable because he’d done this for so long.

On the other hand, you may realize you don’t want to work with your most obvious choice. This senior sales rep had to decide if he wanted to coach business owners or draw on other skills he could offer.

Follow Your Intuition (Not woo-woo: This is solid business advice.)

When I interviewed a dozen successful career changers who took their side hustle online, they all shared one step: Follow your intuition.

These career changers all hired coaches and mentors. They were insistent on the need for hiring support. But they also emphasized, “Listen to your own intuition. If something seems off, don’t do it, even if some famous guru is recommending it for you.”

Closely allied to intuition, they said, was the need to change their mindset. The corporate mindset differs substantially from the entrepreneurial mindset. This adjustment turns out to be more difficult than growing your business by networking, attracting traffic, and developing projects.

Research your options before you start.

Where many people go astray (and I did too) is by focusing on just one business model. That business model may not be right for them. For instance, I learned about coaching and decided to work as a career coach for midlife career changers. I loved doing it.

I learned marketing for online business, so now I mostly work with online business owners who want to grow their business. You can learn more at my story-centered marketing website.

But I still work with career changers. Many times they draw on my expertise in business marketing to discuss aside hustle.

It’s not the only business model.

That model has worked for me. But after I opened my doors for business, over the years I’ve discovered dozens of other business models.

For instance, you can enjoy a successful business by writing and selling ebooks. You can sell through your site or on Amazon. You just have to learn the steps.

You could be a freelance writer or designer. That’s a very different model from building an online business, at least in the beginning. Some people love freelancing so much they never move on.

Here’s how to get started.

I interviewed a dozen people who talked about how they made the transition from corporate to self-employment. Click here:

And if you’d like to work with me to plan your escape, let’s start with a career strategy session. This is not designed for business owners seeking marketing info: it’s for corporate managers seeking a career change. Click here to learn more and set up your own session.

Originally published at on November 2, 2019.

Helping entrepreneurs and independent professionals grow their businesses one story at a time.

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