Going where several have gone before… (But hey, it’s new to me!)
As evident from my prolonged absence from the blog, I am still hard at work fighting the good fight in the great state of Washington. Over the course of the past week, I attended the Washington State Prevention Summit, and then the voters of the state voted to legalize marijuana for those over the age of 21. Needless to say, it’s been a busy week for prevention here in The Great Northwest. Both of those events have inspired me to jot down notes for blog entries, but those will all come later. Today, I wanted to sit down and write about the new adventure that is on the horizon for 2013–creating my own consulting business.
Almost weekly, I browse my “Inspiration” board on Pinterest, allowing the quotes I’ve pinned to continue to motivate me to do something that equally terrifies and exhilarates me. My go-to quote is “Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” One day not long ago, and I honestly can’t even pinpoint the exact day, I decided to to do just that. I’m a preventionist, but more important than my profession, I am a mother and a wife–a military wife. My husband’s MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) requires us to move approximately every 2 years. My career in prevention spans 8 years but includes 3 employers and a 4 year gap, when I was more of an “independent preventionist.” Every time we move, I find myself starting over and telling every potential employer in every job interview that I won’t be around long, but if they’ll give me a chance, I’ll work as hard as I can for them while I’m there. So far, this has worked out well for me. In the short amounts of time I’ve been in various jobs, I’ve managed to obtain CPS certification, acquire training and technology skills that can carry over into any profession, participate in advocacy initiatives that changed our state, and come to the realization that my heart is in trying to make the world a better place, regardless of the pay. And amidst it all, I was also named “Preventionist of the Year” in the state of Oklahoma (my proudest professional moment to date and probably forever!). On the other hand, it’s tough starting over every time our zip code changes. Community work is often dependent on building trust over time and enduring both hardships and celebrations along the way. Because our family chose to make my husband’s service to the country the number-one priority in our lives, one of the sacrifices has been losing the stability that so often goes hand-in-hand with coalition work.
However, through a series of very fortunate events, I have the opportunity to venture out on my own and give this whole consulting thing a go. If it works, then my career will no longer be so reliant on where I live but instead on how hard I’ve worked. Like I said–both terrifying and exhilarating! I’m finding that one of the most difficult parts is just getting started. How will I handle my finances? How will I find clients? How will I market my services? What if my business cards aren’t cool enough and the business name I choose is awful? Okay, maybe the last one is silly, but this is my pot of worry stew!
I happened upon a quick yet informative blog entry “Starting a Consulting Business? 15 Things to Do Right Now.” First of all, I love lists, so it naturally caught my attention. Most of all, it contains a checklist of really simple tasks that not only give me direction, but these are the tasks that will get the ball rolling and make it all seem real. Part of the how-to covers those financial considerations such as separate checking accounts and credit cards for the business (advice that my brother, the CPA, had already talked to me about). The article also points out logistical considerations like office space, phone lines, and mailing addresses, which is even more important to someone like myself whose phone number area code, home address, and permanent address don’t match! The resources the author provides cover topics ranging from in-person networking to marketing to social media presence. Oh yes, and she also mentions business cards.
Today, I’m taking a shot at #11: Tell everyone you know that you are starting a consulting practice, and that you are looking for projects. I’m sure that a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend blog isn’t necessarily the best time to put myself out there, but I have the day off, so here I am! Beginning in January of 2013, I plan to dive into the pool of self-employment with PreventionGeek Consulting. My focus will be on providing technology and training services to nonprofit agencies, most likely those focused on the concept of Wellness (including substance abuse prevention, mental health promotion, community coalition development, etc.). I also hold a couple of secret ambitions that center around app development and writing projects.
I have a long way to go. After all, this is a beginning. When I started this blog, my intent was to connect with those just starting out in the world of prevention or those attempting to learn how to merge prevention and technology. As always with my blog, you’ll see not so much a how-to resource manual but more like a diary that will hopefully allow for linking with others through shared experiences and for providing some ideas about how to integrate technology in our work. It would be impossible to explain my gratitude for those who have inspired me to take on this challenge (namely LaDonna Coy and my ever-supportive circle of best friends). Your belief in my abilities will keep me going even more than a Pinterest board could. Full speed ahead!