Fairfield County Edition

Acting on Your Passion

Women Transitioning to Own Pet-Related Businesses

Reassessing a career choice later in life is not unusual. Needs and options may have changed since initial career decisions were made. Life requirements may bear little resemblance to the essentials of five, 10, 20 or even 30 years ago.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ~ Mark Twain

An informal survey done with the Women in the Pet Industry Network (WIPIN) found that women moving into a second career within the pet industry know no age boundaries. The poll found it was evenly split along age groups between 25 and over 50. The message seems to be that it’s never too early or too late to change careers.

Another WIPIN poll found those first careers had quite a range, from being a stay-at-home mother, lawyer, marketer, “cubicle dweller”, upper management, lower management, military, software developer to being involved in the health and medical fields.

The one thing the women polled had in common was that they were looking to substitute a job for a career they were passionate about.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ~ Harriet Tubman

How to Get Started

Talk to area professionals but keep in mind that they may be busy. An option is to offer a financial incentive to spend the day with them to get a feel for what they do. A busy professional taking the time to allow shadowing will lose money. They cannot schedule the same number of clients, as they will be slowed down by your presence. If, after surviving the first day, inquire about mentoring or apprenticeships as well as suggested necessary structured education. If they cannot help, they may be able to recommend someone who can or at least point you in the right direction.

Online

Search sites such as Facebook for specific industry professional groups and groups geared towards women professionals. They can be a wealth of information.

Networking

Consider traveling to professional educational conferences. Most trade publication will list upcoming events. For the pet industry, check out Petage.com, GroomerToGroomer.com, PetProductNews.com, PetBusiness.com, GroomingBusiness.com and PetBoardingandDaycare.com. These are all free subscriptions. Many professional conferences are restricted to those already in the industry. However, an email or phone call explaining an interest in changing careers will usually result in allowed access.

Other options include local chambers of commerce and meetups. MeetUp.com is an online social portal that allows members to set up local meetings with those of like interests and professions.

Financial

Next is thinking about how to transition from a job to a career. Can you continue working at your current employer while taking the time to start or learn a new profession? Is there a nest egg to rely on if you quit or take an apprenticeship position that will most likely be a cut in pay? We need to also take into consideration a potential lapse in health insurance.

And for those setting up a business, the Connecticut chapter of the Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC.com) and the Connecticut office of the Small Business Administration (SBA.gov/Offices/District/CT/Hartford) can help with advisors, small business loans and grants, as well as offering online and on-site educational seminars.

Support

Making life-changing decisions can be tough even with the full support of family and friends. But what if we do not have someone cheering us from the sidelines?

Searching the terms “career transitions” or “career changes” on sites such as MeetUp.com and LinkedIn.com can help us find local or online groups specific to our needs.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” ~ Maya Angelou

To avoid common missteps, take a look at a Forbes list of the five biggest mistakes that career changers make.

Waiting until you are totally burned out at your current job. This is more of a mindset. Starting a new career requires a positive, upbeat attitude.

• Not creating a financial plan to oversee the transition. The danger is in quitting your passion too soon because of money concerns.

• Choosing an incompatible with our talents career change. This is why shadowing and apprenticing can help narrow the focus before investing time and money.

• Not taking the time to research your career change and business setups. Money and time spent on education will pay for itself in the long term.

• Giving up too quickly. Overnight successes are a thing for the movies.

Making a life altering career change can be scary. However, taking the time to plan it out can result in a rewarding profession. It’s never too late to follow our dreams.

Mary Oquendo is a Reiki master, advanced crystal master and certified master tech pet first aid instructor. She is the owner of Hands and Paws Reiki for All. She can be reached at HandsAndPawsReiki.com. See ad, page 58.

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