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Skill Bill

Changing fields? Your industrial evolution still relies on your old skill sets.

This story appears in the February 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

You've spent your whole life working in one field--you majored in it in college, you've worked at it for a number of years, and guess what? You're ready for a change. Perhaps you worked in PR and now you want to run a motorcycle shop. Or you used to be in the food services industry, but you've always dreamed of running an antiques store. The good news is that it's never too late to make a drastic industry change and start a business that's completely different from the work you did before. The bad news? It'll take some serious self-evaluation and some even more serious prep work.

Your first step is to take inventory of your skills to see which ones can be applied to your new endeavor, says marketing consultant and strategist Lois Carter Fay, founder of the Marketing Idea Shop in Massanutten, Virginia. "If, for instance, you worked in a company as an account executive in sales, [knowing how to sell] would be a helpful skill," says Carter Fay. A PR job would have taught you how to be creative in designing the full-scale launch of a product, and such ingenuity would serve you well as a handbag designer. Or you may have gotten your degree in chemistry where you learned how to mix compounds to create something new--you may apply those skills to your newfound gig as owner of a specialty cake bakery.

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