Are you reading this and thinking that you’d love to work for yourself? Well, read on. I am going to share with you three of the ways that I leveraged something that I love—writing—into a successful second career.

Be clear about your skill set, goods, or product

If you are serious about being an entrepreneur then you need to have a realistic understanding about what you plan to sell. The desire to work for yourself is not enough. You have to have something that is consumable, or that people are willing to pay for.

The best way to determine if there is a market is to conduct research. Have a clear understanding of the demand for your service. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for creativity and ingenuity—perhaps you cannot find products/goods/services similar to yours because no one else has thought of it.

Don’t let that stop you from launching your business, just be realistic. After you have conducted your research, think about your targeted audience.

Point blank, ask yourself: Who wants what I am selling? Remember, in many instances, your locality does not determine the viability of your product.

I am located in the Midwest, but almost all of my clients are in California, the New York City area, Atlanta, Detroit, or Chicago. Had I solely focused on where I am located, I probably would still be working for someone else.

Master your craft

I used to play basketball, and my coach, Mr. Furcron, used to say, “What you do in practice, you will do in the game.”

I take that seriously as a business owner. I want to be the best writer and editor that I can be. So, guess what? I write every day and I read every day. Yes, every day. Why? To practice.

I don’t want to get so comfortable or complacent that I don’t strive to get better. I tell my clients that I am a player/coach. Many of the techniques and strategies that I recommend to them, I also use.

I want to be that coach who is running layups with her team and not just blowing the whistle and telling others to do it.

Stand out

No matter what the enterprise, you want to be the best at it. There may be 100,000 other vendors who sell t-shirts, so think in terms of what sets you apart from the crowd.

Is it the quality of your product, the craftsmanship, the style, the ingenuity, the pricing?

For me, I knew that I wanted my customer service and the quality of our services to be cornerstones of our success. Because I had experience working for publishing companies and education systems, I thought in terms of how I could replicate the best parts of those industries’ non-proprietary systems and scale them down so that it worked for a company of my size. I added several steps to ensure that we had great quality assurance.

But that wasn’t enough. I wanted my clients to feel connected to our brand, so I think of them as members of the Seldon Writing Group village. I jokingly tell them that they are villagers for life unless they decide to run away. This simply means that after the sale, I still try to support them by sharing information about their books, attending their book signings, and staying in touch.

I am not a fan of building a plane while you are flying it. The more you can do to be proactive, the less reactionary you will have to be. There are many of us who have successfully made the transition and here’s hoping that you will too!