I uploaded my professionally written and approved resume so many times to online job boards that even my faithful golden retriever could have confidently clicked SEND.
But that didn’t land me a job in Columbus, Ohio during the fall of 2008 when I tried desperately to re-enter the job market after my divorce attorney finally gave me the green light to start applying for work. When it came to bad timing, I couldn’t have chosen a worst time to try to find a job.
To prepare myself for the work world after many years away due to relocating for my husband’s frequent corporate job transfers and staying home with our 3 kids for years due to his weekly business travel requirements, I knew that I needed to learn new skills and get more education.
Before marriage, I had worked as a TV news reporter which I knew was incredibly competitive and not a practical career to revive. And I remembered how often I’d had to work late nights, holidays and weekends so preparing for a Monday-Friday job with regular office hours was my new goal.
After thinking over my options, I decided to become a paralegal and enrolled in a very rigorous one year law school program which I was assured would lead me to a full time paralegal position with benefits. And it probably would have, if I had graduated even one year sooner than the fall of 2008.
Realizing how much I needed some work experience, I asked for and was given a part-time internship with my own divorce attorney, but she did not have a permanent position to offer to me. I checked with my paralegal program classmates who were also looking for jobs and found out that none of them had landed a legal job either. We soon discovered that our job market was completely inundated with young attorneys who were let go en masse from the larger law firms in our city and they applied for every legal office position they saw online.
Now that I was a divorced mom at age 45 living in an expensive suburban school district, I felt completely overwhelmed at the thought of not being able to support myself and keep my children enrolled in their current public schools.
I tried many different ways to reach out to prospective employers, joined a weekly job networking group and hired 3 different job coaches during the next 3 years. Without any legal work experience other than my internship and short term positions on my resume, I frequently interviewed back-to-back with hundreds of other job applicants to get whatever temporary part-time positions became available, no matter how low-paying and tedious these jobs turned out to be.
Unemployment insurance was not available to me due to the fact that I had not held a long-term full time position prior to when the job market crashed. I was not allowed to relocate with my children to live with relatives in the city I grew up in because of my state’s custody laws. And the spousal support that I finally received went to pay for my extensive legal bills and the law school paralegal program tuition.
I ended up working in a series of temporary positions in bankruptcy law with micro-managing attorneys who were verbally abusive and weighed me down with an excessive amount of complicated legal work to finish on strict deadlines with zero mistakes permitted. When they compared me frequently to my childless, tech-savvy 22 year old co-workers, I decided I was done.
Following my divorce from a narcissistic and emotionally abusive husband, the last thing I wanted was to deal with was job after job working for abusive attorneys who sent my migraines into high gear.
I never had envisioned myself as a woman who would start a business from the ground up at mid-life. But continuing to wish that the job market would improve was getting me nowhere.
Right then I made up my mind to become an entrepreneur and started my own divorce and co-parenting strategies business, Moving Forward Through Divorce. I cashed out what remained of my savings and during the next several years, I stretched myself out of my comfort zone more times than I ever knew were possible for me. Determined to break through the chaos ahead and become financially successful, I trained in coaching skills and attended business networking events at night while putting together marketing plans and designing my website content during the day.
What possibilities could open up if failure was not an option for you? As a divorced mom on a quest to build a successful business as soon as possible, I was on a very tight learning curve. I sought out other women in business and absorbed what they shared with me like a thirsty sponge. After trying many new things and failing many times, I learned some amazing strategies that have empowered me and made a significant difference in my business.
Here are 3 Business Strategies for Success that I can recommend:
1. Fully focus on what your natural strengths are and develop a business plan that maximizes the use of your natural strengths, skills and abilities. If you are not sure what your natural strengths are, there are assessments available that can help you discover where your abilities and interests align. In the areas you struggle with most, do not hesitate to hire someone to help you or trade with another business owner for what you need to get done.
2. Figure out ways to create passive income through your business. Although working with clients one-to-one is often enjoyable and rewarding, it really pays to develop other streams of income to supplement your hours- for- dollars earnings. Affiliate marketing, creating a downloadable product you can sell online, creating group programs and pursuing joint ventures with strategic business alliances are all ways to enhance your bottom line.
3. Reach out to other women business owners and ask them to become your mentors. There is no need to go it alone when there are many smart and courageous women with well-established businesses who are eager to lend a listening ear or brainstorm with you about various ways that you can grow your business. I’ve attended several Mastermind Groups, women’s business conferences and online women’s business groups for support, encouragement and help with reframing my mistakes.
Starting your own business can empower you in more ways than you ever thought was possible. As someone who kept their life jacket on and stayed in a leaky boat way too long in both my marriage and then treading water in the over- crowded job market, I encourage you to take some time to reflect and write about how you want your life to look five years from now.
Five years from now will your life still be dependent on other people’s plans? Or will you take the time to listen to what your gut is telling you, summon your inner courage and begin to take charge of where you are going?