Every month, we’ll be featuring a leader who has successfully made the leap from corporate life into entrepreneurship. They will be sharing their lessons learned, experience, and expertise. 

This month, we welcome Lisa Gustafson, owner of The Entrepreneur’s Source.

Leaving corporate employment for the self-sufficiency of entrepreneurship requires a shift.

A shift from the outward to the inward.

When clients in career transition first come to me, they are looking for things outside themselves – the perfect job, the right company, a better opportunity. Many also want a guarantee that their choice will be perfect.

A guarantee doesn’t exist. And it certainly doesn’t exist in corporate America. I worked for 12 years at the #17 company on the Fortune 500 list. My husband worked for the same company for 30 years. In a blink of an eye, our divisions were sold to raise capital for new technology. My husband received his notice the month of his 30-year anniversary. Not exactly a gold watch.

However, the company took the capital from the sale and invested in something new to create better results, growth, and revenue.

Perhaps we need to think the same way! Instead of looking outward for our income, lifestyle, wealth, and equity potential, we look inward. To the capital that is inside of us and holds the potential to attain growth and income potential. I call this your Career Capital.

It was never the position, title, project, or company giving you an opportunity to excel. It was always you investing your valuable experience, skills, talents, and individual make-up that created success. And you can achieve the same success for yourself by using your Career Capital.

To access your Career Capital, you’ll need to identify it, own it, and then invest it.

What makes up your Career Capital? In short, it’s what you’re considered good at: talents, capabilities, and skills. It includes the easy-to-define things like project management, leading remote teams, ability to use XYZ software. I challenge you to go deeper – into your unique make-up and outlook on life:

  • All the success you have had in your current and previous jobs
  • Your good health, energy, and vitality
  • Your large circle of influence and strong community of peers
  • Your ability to make sound decisions
  • Your impeccable work ethic
  • Your numerous transferrable skills
  • Your long record of accomplishments
  • Your high degree of integrity
  • Your possibilities mindset
  • Your positive attitude
  • Your collaborative approach
  • Your resiliency: your ability to adapt and to embrace change
  • Your positive sense of humor
  • Your ability to turn confrontation into a positive

Start by asking yourself what you believe you do well. Review your resume. Use the above suggestions to include the unique value you’ve brought to organizations and companies. Engage your large circle of influence and strong community of peers – what do they think are your top three skills?

You’ve identified your Career Capital, now it’s time to own it.

This is where so many get stuck and fail to move forward.

There are too many terrible bosses, managers or even clueless family members who may have diminished your self-confidence. You may have worked in a miserable working environment. Some have become so divorced from their skills and strengths they actually see them as unimportant. They say “Anyone can do that” or “It’s not such a big deal.”

The only lasting way to disempower the past is to own your Career Capital and the value that you assign to it.

By taking ownership of your skills and strengths, you empower yourself to step beyond past boundaries. By taking ownership of your skills and strengths, you take responsibility for improving them. You are no longer dependent on someone else or their definition of your overall rating. You are in control now.

Roll this over and over in your mind:

My potential is defined by me. I assign the value and worth to my skills, talents, and unique individual make-up – not anybody else or any past corporate assessment.

Are you ready to invest?

Now strategize how you can specifically apply your Career Capital to become an entrepreneur. How will these skills, talents, and individual make-up help you write your success story? You used each one of them to increase the profit, performance, and potential for companies. Let’s switch it to your potential.

To help you out, here are two suggestions:

Example #1
Career Capital – I have a strong record of accomplishments.

Strategy – To create my own business, I will replicate the success I achieved for “XYZ Company” when I created, implemented and expanded the 2010 manager training initiative.

  • Create strategic vision and ultimate desired results.
  • How will the results be measured to determine achievement?
  • Work backwards from measurement specifics to create a purposeful and thoughtful business plan:
  • Problem Solved
  • Competitive Advantage
  • Market Analysis
  • Organization and Structure
  • Range of Services and Products
  • Research and Development
  • Intellectual Property
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Funding Options
  • Financial Projections
  • Add deadlines for each piece of the plan.
  • Begin to implement with the first item.

Example #2
Career Capital – I have an impeccable work ethic.

Strategy – Apply my work ethic to marketing and sales of my business as I did when I recruited and mentored a record number of teams for “2015 XYZ Charity Event” that resulted in the highest amount ever raised.

  • Determine sales goals.
  • Create strategic plan:
    • Break out estimated revenue by product.
    • Determine average sale by customer for each product.
    • Using my business psychographics, have County Economic Development Geographic Information System map out the best areas to market.
    • Determine most-appropriate lead generating vehicle (s).
    • What must be in person and what can be automated.
  • Become the brand of my business.
    • Create 30-second elevator pitch and speaking points including responding to objections.
  • In order to launch my business, I will work days, evenings, and Saturdays until I have achieved XXX units of sales and have XX of repeat clients.
  • Set weekly business development goals.
  • Review goals and status each morning to prioritize efforts.
  • Fearlessly execute.

Now repeat this exercise for each of the valuable items you identified and owned. Use this investment as a springboard to launch your business. You can start in a general manner or very specific. The main thing is to start!

The change is remarkable. When I guide clients through this exercise, you can see, hear, and experience the shift in them. The haphazardness of seeking and waiting for something outside of themselves slowly diminishes. Energy, purposefulness, and focus radiates from them – from the inside. They have identified, owned, and invested their Career Capital in themselves. And they are taking confident steps toward their dream of entrepreneurship.

It can still be scary to leave corporate employment for being your own boss. My clients still may want a guarantee of success. After we’ve gathered all the facts, analyzed the numbers, laid out the plans, we can usually get to about 85%. The remaining 15% – the guarantee – lies within you. It’s your Career Capital.

Lisa K. Gustafson is the owner of The Entrepreneur’s Source and works with clients across North America. Open-minded, self-driven, professionals ready to leave the uncertainty of corporate employment work with Lisa to take ownership of their income, lifestyle, wealth, and equity potential. Because they want control of their future. Through her pro-bono, proprietary coaching experience – backed by 36-years of success – clients crystalize goals; explore alternative options like franchising; and achieve clarity to take confident steps towards self-sufficiency. To learn more about Lisa, visit her at https://lgustafson.esourcecoach.com and on LinkedIn.