Dear Dr. Christina,
I am 40 years old and I have found myself in the position of having to become the breadwinner of my family, meaning me and my 2 beautiful children ages 7 and 10. My husband was killed in a motorcycle accident this past year. You see, we were childhood sweethearts and lived together for the past 10 years. My husband did not want me to work so I was a stay-at-home mom who never finished high school. Now I find myself having to find a job, but no one will hire me because I have no experience and I do not have a high school diploma. I am getting some assistance for health insurance, food stamps and social security, but I do not want to use those as excuses to supplement our needs—for they are just not enough. My only opportunity for getting a job so far has been working at a fast food restaurants.
I feel I am too old for school, but I thought maybe I could start my own business. I have always dreamed of having my own business. I am at a loss as to how to take care of my family, and I would like some advice as to what I can do.
I totally respect and honor you for wanting to provide for yourself and your family. I know how hard this must be for you.
I know there are many books out there about how to start your own business and the need for a good business plan, which you can obtain for free from your local library; but there is more to the story. You may have seen some of these books and perhaps thought to yourself that it just can’t be that hard.
Starting a business is something you can strive for, but first you must really think about what you are passionate about, what kind of business you think you want to open, and then make a plan of action.
You are never too old to learn, nor does going to school mean you have to go back to high school. Many colleges help students like you get their GED in order to get a high school diploma. Once you have obtained your GED, you can take courses you may be interested in (vocational, career, or college) so you can learn more about building the business you would like to open and own.
In order for you to complete your own business plan, you will have to learn about business first and how to structure it and conduct it so you can run your own business. If you don’t take the time to learn about owning a business and all it entails, there is a good chance that you may fail.
Passion and wanting to be an entrepreneur is one thing; but surviving and knowing all the rules to be successful is another.
Things to consider:
1) Sometimes it takes a lot to make the decision to go back to school. Do not let your fears intimidate you. You may find that it is not that hard to do. I am sure that this would also be a good example to your children—to learn to stay in school, graduate, and use their diplomas to get the jobs they want. It is wonderful for them to see how you are securing yourself for a new career and how you are developing and building your own business.
There are many people who are older than you who have the same vision and who are forced to make the same types of decisions. Heck, even I went back to school at the age of 55 in order to learn a new career!
2) There are many career guidance counselors available at your local community colleges, colleges or even high schools who can help you with advice and suggestions so you can discuss your plan with them. They can also help you find the money you will need to go back to school for your courses through financial aid, grants and scholarships (meaning money you do not have to pay back).
3) I would also advise that if you have had to work at a fast food place, perhaps you can see this as a starting point for you to build on, in order to build a small nest egg of money. It may also help to teach you about how a business is run, provide possible advancement to a management position, and, perhaps most importantly, help you learn about customer service. It can teach you how to be a business owner, how to treat employees, and other valuable lessons.
4) If you do decide to go back to school or work, you will need to also think about your children. Do you have the resources to help you take care of them when you are not at home so you can fulfill your goals?
I know this may seem very overwhelming. One must see both sides regarding your pros and cons as to what will be best for you and your family.
Again remember the following:
1) You must find out what your passion is.
2) Do you have a particular talent or something specific you enjoy doing?
3) Perhaps take some time and find a role model, a person who is doing what you love to do, so you do not have to start from scratch.
4) Ask questions, find the shortcuts for the type of business you would love to build, and learn from other people’s mistakes. You do not have to reinvent the wheel.
Your question about what to do and what to choose is a very important one, for this is a pivotal move that affects you and your family, and you do not want to jump into it without knowing all the facts.
1) What is your passion? Discover it and build your business around it.
2) Do real planning. Don’t just jump into it.
3) Find someone who has the same passion and learn from him/her.
4) Consider whether you need to go to a trade school or another type of school to learn your new vocation.
5) Cover all of your bases and think about not only what will satisfy you, but also your family.
6) Determine what you can do: part-time/full-time school or job.
Most importantly, find a balance between work/school and playtime/family/alone time. Once you feel you have all of your questions answered, then you will know what your best first step is.
El, I am so proud of you for opening up and broadening your mindset to write this important letter to me. The first step to success is always when one is willing to look inside oneself and not be afraid to ask others for ideas and advice. Just remember who you are doing this for, and do not be afraid to face the various crossroads you will face as you find a new life and a new career, not only your yourself but your family too.
You do not have to settle for second best. You have been given an opportunity to learn and grow, and for a new beginning.
I wish you the best of luck. My thoughts will be with you, your passion, and with your children.
- Posted By: DRC Editor
- Comments: 0