Take a chance and turn your passion into profits
Denise Medved says figure it out. Tap into your passions. Find a way to make a living doing what you love to do. "If the recession's taught us anything, it's that quality of life is more important than ever."
Medved started her career on Wall Street, working for nearly five years as a banker at Morgan Stanley. She then moved into the tradeshow business where she worked for some 20 years.
In her off time, she cooked. Had parties. Entertained. "I love feeding friends, having good conversations and creating memories," she says. "I wanted to marry my passion for entertaining and with my business experience and people skills."
Several years ago, Medved did, with the launch of The Tiny Kitchen, an integrated media company which, among other things, produces bi-annual, two-day long tradeshows for those who share her passions. Cooking demonstrations have been provided by several Food Network stars, including Paula Deen and Giada De Laurentiis. "I'm all about removing the fear and stress out of cooking and motivating others to have fun and learn."
Today, The Tiny Kitchen is a $3 million dollar company growing at 40% a year. And while it's been a nerve-wracking ride to profitability -- Medved still works tirelessly to turn every challenge into a revenue-making proposition -- she acknowledges that in today's economy, one of the biggest challenges for others may simply be mustering up the courage to leave a job.
Here's how to do it:
Do a self-assessment
Name three things you want in a job; three things you don't. What are you good at? Bad at? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? What quality of life do you want? "If you're jumping ship, make sure you're jumping ship for something you're really going to enjoy doing for at least the next five years years," Medved said.
Everyone has transferable skills
One of the biggest misconceptions women have -- particularly if they've been out of the workforce for a while -- is that they don't have transferable skills. Everyone does, says Medved -- even a stay-at-home mom. "If you raised money for your child's PTA, you could be a project manager because you have organizational and analytical skills." Leverage those skills and hype them heavily on the resume.
Acquire new skills
If you're trying to stay current in your field, or are planning to switch industries altogether, you need to update your skills in order to stay competitive. That may require your going back to school. To fine-tune her entrepreneurial skills, Medved enrolled in a specialized program for like-minded individuals. "The program helped changed my mindset; made me realize the value I was bringing to the company and see myself as an asset rather than an expense," she said.
Calculated risks only
"I knew I was good at sales, marketing, working with people, and I was bringing years of experience launching tradeshows to the table so I knew what I was doing," says Medved. Nevetherless, she set parameters. "If the first tradeshow didn't go well, I was willing to call it quits."
Never mind the naysayers
"People are going to say, 'You're crazy to leave a high paying stable job'; ignore those people," says Medved. "If you've done your homework, and you're going into this with confidence, passion, belief and vision, you just need to give your yourself permission to do whatever it is you want to do."