4 Steps Will Take You From Employee to Entrepreneur

4 stepsI give full credit for this blog post and its title to J. Kelly Hoey, who has now re-branded herself as an Innovator. Her Innovator Insights Blog is a must read for the rezooming attorney. She has successfully reinvented herself so many times I have lost count.

A little history about her impact on my process of rezooming my legal career is in order. When I rezoomed my career in 2010 I met Kelly at a course presentation on commercial litigation by the law firm White and Case. Kelly was there with her Jimmy Choo shoes I longed for, and her words of wisdom for the rezooming attorneys in the Pace University Law School’s New Direction Program. She encouraged our quest and the do-ability of what we were embarking upon.

Over the following four years I have followed Kelly. I welcome her advice and vivid description of her own exploration of where her career choices were taking her. Her exploits have often caused me to reflect on whether I was too complacent on my journey and needed more adventure in my life, or if my awareness of the adventure I was embarking upon was spot on. Kelly wrote a blog post about me in 2011 and called me a masterful net worker (yes she used those words). I had reached out to her for some advice on practice choices. I identified not only where I met her but what she was wearing, what I was wearing and the comment she made about my blue glasses. She said, “I may not have remembered this woman if it hadn’t been for the two or three clues she provided that sparked my recall.”

In her new blog and web presence she speaks about her recent keynote speech at the Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs event in Dallas Texas. Please note this advice is not exclusive for women solo practice rezoomers. It is relevant for everyone thinking about rezooming, currently navigating their rezooming process, or sustaining their solo practice begun as a rezoomer.

The title of her keynote in Dallas was Employee to Entrepreneur. Just perfect for many of us who were working for a firm or the public sector and are now challenging the norms by going out on our own and giving people what they want, which is our very best!

Kelly summed up her keynote advice into three bullet points, each of which rings true to the solo rezoomer.

Build Your Expertise.

Nothing is more valuable in your rezooming process than being the expert in your field. No matter how broad or narrow your choice of expertise, be the “go to” person in that matter. I decided to mediate disagreements and misunderstandings between people over animals. People know what I do. They refer clients and friends to me because they know my expertise, have heard me speak and have heard from those who have used my services that I was professional and invaluable to their success in achieving resolution on this one niche point.

Invest in yourself and your business.

As Kelly aptly says, “stay curious and invest in yourself.” If you think you’ve done it all and are perfect, you will become stagnate and less likely to remain pertinent. If you always debrief what you have done and how it may have been better for you, your client or audience, you will continue to grow and take your clients and followers with you.

I am always learning. I held an event in Dallas Texas, at the Irving Animal Care Campus, in which I helped administrators, support staff and volunteers have a conversation about what was working and what needed fixing. The take away for them was that it was a safe space and they now have processes and language to use with each other that will nip conflict in the bud. The take away for me was that I needed to make it longer. It is easy to stay in the moment for 3 hours. However, it really hits home and becomes part of your lexicon if you can practice for a day or two so you really have it.

Build your network.

Kelly’s third point is one I have written about often but it is good to see someone as accomplished as Kelly going back to the basics and reminding us that “ideas without a network are just….ideas.” Kelly confirms what I preach to my rezooming buddies, every month it seems, “build a strong, diverse network and build it before you need it.” You never know where your next break will come from or who will step up to help you. This means making the most of your connections. It is not the number of connections you make but rather the authenticity of the connection and the repetitive (not to the point of annoyance but to the point of top of mind-a delicate balance) touches you can make to keep connected. There is no tried and true formula, however, finding an article that a colleagues might enjoy or asking them, impromptu or scheduled, to have coffee with you if you are in their area may keep the connection alive while not being annoying.

“Yes-me” fund.

Kelly’s last and most important point is to build your “yes-me” fund. Kelly describes it as the “fund that enables you to say yes…[so] you [can] leap at an opportunity regardless of the compensation level or… pursue a venture whether or not [others] believe in it.” Clearly as rezooming attorneys we may stumble upon opportunities we would like to take advantage of, but because we are starting out and we are solo, we may not think spending the money on ourselves is an opportunity worth taking. Kelly implores us to make the time and set aside the funds in the ‘yes-me’ account to care of ourselves and our future needs.

I hope all of you check out J.Kelly Hoey’s new website and read her Blog. No, I don’t get anything for endorsing Kelly. However, sharing her positive impact in my rezooming life seems intuitive. I have been blessed by her influence on my path as I began my rezooming process. She has helped me navigate to the success I am experiencing right now. I don’t think keeping her to myself is fair. What’s keeping you from rezooming your career? Go out and rezoom today!

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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