{Careers} No experience? No degree? No problem!

These 5 FOFs started profitable second-act careers without going back to school or working their way up the ladder. Our FOF career gurus say you can, too…

B&B Proprietor

“My client Melanie, 54, was an executive with a major airline for over 20 years, but she always had a passion for cooking–especially breakfast pastries,” says FOF Career Guru Jane Angelich. “Her dream was to open a small B&B where she could live, earn an income, and enjoy baking for her guests.”

How she made it work: “Before Melanie made the leap, she spent a few days shadowing a B&B owner using this site: www.vocationvacations.com. Then, confident she’d enjoy B&B ownership, she sold her home (she was in the middle of a divorce), and rented while looking for an existing B&B for sale. By purchasing a property that was already active, she could build upon the prior owner’s customer base. She also didn’t have to worry about getting the zoning permits from scratch because that work was already done. Melanie is now making a comfortable living and having a blast creating new and exciting recipes for her guests.”

How you can, too: First, find a B&B you like and ask to shadow the proprietor for a few days. Even consider offering to work there a few weekends doing odd jobs. Then, salivate over all the fab inns for sale at www.bnb4sale.com. You’re on your way….


“Workshopper” in a Retirement Community

“Anna, another client, was a bank executive who spent several years visiting her elderly aunt in a retirement community. She also hobbied as an actress in community theater. She loved listening to her aunt’s stories and decided she wanted to create a documentary to capture them. She created a series of workshops, using the documentary as a tool to help residents tell their stories. Since then she’s booked her workshops across the country and is paid as a workshop leader.”

How she made it work: “Anna landed her first ‘gig’ by trying out her material for free at her aunt’s retirement community to refine her delivery and material. She asked for testimonials and used them to build her marketing material. She attended a trade show geared for retirement community/assisted living providers and networked like crazy so she could follow-up after the show.”

How you can, too: What knowledge would you love to share? Consider your passions–history, gardening, art, shopping(!)–and offer to teach a seminar or run a workshop at your local assisted-living facility. Search for one in your community, here: http://www.alfa.org/

FOF Career Guru Jane Angelich is a serial entrepreneur. She’s been a business coach for over 30 years, helping women find their career zen. Today she is the CEO of Bright IP Concepts, manufacturer of the supercollar® and the author of two books about in laws, http://www.inlawexpert.com.

Professional Downsizer

“My client Susan was a stay at home mom for many years before her kids left for school and her marriage fell apart,” says FOF Guru Kathi Elster. “She found her calling when she artfully downsized from a 4,000-square-foot home to a 1,000-square-foot apartment, sanity intact. Today, Susan helps families downsize when their kids move out, when someone moves to a retirement home or when divorce comes late in life.”

How she made it work: “Susan got her first client by visiting the newest Adult Living Facility in her community, describing her services, and offering a finder’s fee for any clients they recommended. She did the same with several local moving companies and quickly got clients. Then she started getting referrals.”

How you can, too: If you’re willing to pay a few hundred dollars, you can take organizing courses and get certified by NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers (classes average $40 for members and $140 for non-members). Alternately, offer to help a friend downsize for free, and learn while you do.

FOF Guru Kathi Elster, founder of k2 Enterprises, is an executive coach and nationally recognized business strategist.

Home “Redecorator”

“An over-50 attorney I know loved home decorating and had a natural eye for it,” says Lauri Ward, president and founder of Use What You Have Interiors. “She watched HGTV and read decorating magazines religiously. Her friends always oohed and ahhed when they came to her home and begged her to help them with theirs. She knew this is what she wanted to do as her second-act career.”

How she did it: “She took a week off from her practice and completed my Redecorator Training in New York City. By the end of the week she had learned everything she needed to help clients re-do their rooms using what they already had on hand. This allowed her to jump right in, without having to create relationships with suppliers and designer showrooms. In addition to the practical redecorating skills, she learned best-business practices, pricing, marketing and even got some hands-on experience shadowing a re-decorator on the job. Plus, she was able to start off slow. She accepted clients on nights and weekends and only closed down her practice when she felt financially comfortable.”

How you can, too: Lauri Ward’s New York City Redesign training programs are offered 3-4 times per year. The $3,500 cost includes your tuition and lunch for the week. If you can’t make it to New York, Lauri offers an online training program (which provides the same certification as the live class) that you can complete at your own pace (typically 2-4 weeks) for $2,000. Once you get your business off the ground you can expect to earn a minimum of $250 per room (each room typically takes a couple of hours to complete).

Lauri Ward, president and founder of Use What You Have Interiors, an interior design business that helps people use what they already have in their home as the foundation to create a fresher, updated, more elegant look, without spending a lot of money.

Dessert Caterer

“Andrea, a music industry exec was burnt out from her high-stress job and baking was the only thing that relaxed her,” says FOF career image specialist Lisa Johnson Mandell. “She recently started a dessert catering business. She makes treats for showers, teas, engagement parties and sets up dessert tables for kids parties. She plans to quit her day job when she can make enough from the business to keep up with her payments.”

How she made it work: “Andrea rents out a local kitchen for just $15 per hour and bakes on the weekends and by moonlight.  So far, it’s been a  minimum financial investment but it takes a toll on her, it’s physically draining and an enormous sacrifice of time. But, she thinks eventually she’ll be able to profit doing what she loves. She hopes to have her cake and eat it too.”

How you can, too: Many bakeries offer reasonable “cupcake camps” or workshops in cake decorating and baking. See if your local sweet shop has a class schedule. If not, ask if you can “stodge” (work in exchange for experience) at your local patisserie or shadow a pastry chef in your area. If your baking style is more homestyle than haute, market yourself that way! ‘Mrs. Fields’ never attended LeCourdon Bleu, and you needn’t either. When you’ve built up enough cooking confidence, check out this directory of commercial kitchens for rent and get baking!

FOF Lisa Johnson Mandell is a Career Image Specialist, an award-winning multimedia journalist, host and author of Career Comeback—Repackage yourself to get the job you want.