I recently read Tomorrow’s Lawyers by Richard Susskind. The Author quotes Alan Kay who states “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. This has a lot of meaning to me as someone who has recently started a small business. I am now an entrepreneur, the founder of a legal career consulting business.The reason I have chosen to start a business so late in my career is, to be honest, I had no idea what I loved until I got my feet wet in the corporate world. I think this is a problem that does not only affect me, but many people in their career. I didn’t recognize I was good at advising others on their careers, nor was I aware I had such a strong passion for this job until after many career-shaping decisions had already made (aka law school). Fortunately, as I have now learned, at any point in life, you can change your mind and veer off in a different direction. All you need is one thing. Drive.If you have drive coupled with motivation, you will succeed, end of story.
I decided well into my career as an attorney that wanted to be an entrepreneur. I looked around at all the twenty something’s with start-ups and thought to myself, I am not too old to be that successful. After all, I have one chance at a life and I want to do something extraordinary. It’s interesting though, as these are things I never thought about until after I had kids, and after I had been working for several years. All it took was a bit of initiative. Once I had a website built and saw my ideas come to life, my mind was fluttering with long-term goals. At first, I didn’t think a website was necessary, but as I came up with more ideas, I grew passionate about the business I created. Due to finances, I chose to do this in addition to my full time job. Although not easy, if you prioritize, it is possible.
The hardest, yet one of the most amazing parts of this journey is the combination of hats I had to start wearing (at once).
I feel much like the man in the children’s book “caps for sale” wearing a stack of hats on my head at all times. I had no idea how much I needed to know, and absolutely no idea I was capable of learning so many different aspects of a business this far in my career as a lawyer.
After starting a business I am now a writer, a sales and marketing department, a client relations expert and the sole person in charge of branding a business. When I started this venture a bit over a year ago, I knew nothing about building websites or the importance of social media. After all, these things were not particularly important for my career as an attorney. How did I learn all of this you ask? The answer is simple. Trial and error. I used my existing networking strengths to make contacts and expand my network into my new niche. I began writing to help my website become visible and to market myself online. When I needed help, I asked. I hired a website consultant to help me with the technology I didn’t understand, as well as consultant to help me further structure my business. As I had always given career advice for free, it was hard to begin charging for this service and I had to learn how to create effective pricing. Throughout the last year, I have been truly surprised at the amount of people who have been willing to help me, and it’s inspiring.
This story has several morals. First, drive and motivation are powerful tools not to be underestimated. Second, many of the skills learned in a career are transferable. If you don’t have the skills you need, ask. Third and most important, if you want to try something new, don’t dream about it. Did Ben Franklin dream about electricity? If anyone tells you that you can’t do it, tell them to go fly a kite. Your future is waiting to be invented.
Lainee Beigel, Lawyer and founder of Career Esquire, is a hard Working Mom of two and major multi-tasker. Lainee assists legal professionals in perfecting networking, interviewing and negotiation skills, and provides career path guidance. Lainee also creates and provides professional development workshops to law schools and law firms.