18 Tips for Getting Started When Switching Industries

Switching industries sometimes can be overwhelming.

Whether you’ve been in a specific career your whole life and you’re ready to make a change, or you want to set up a new business in another industry, it can be a scary thing to do because you’re unfamiliar with it. 

This is the reason why people hesitate to take that jump. Whether you are doing what I’d like to call a basic or critical switch of industries, this piece should guide you on how to seamlessly change industries without the bridge collapsing underneath your feet.  

A basic switch entails switching your niche within the same industry. Take, for instance, you could be an actor/actress trying to switch to music. You are changing your niche but you are still in the entertainment industry.

This is also a switch, but it is a basic switch compared to changing from acting to real estate management which is a critical switch. If such is not managed properly, it could lead to stunted career growth.

There are definitely hurdles you will encounter when trying to switch industries. In fact, it might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life.

Nonetheless, it is not impossible and that is why this article was written for you to make switching easy whether basic or critical possible.

No matter where you’re coming from and where you’re going, everyone has the ability to learn something new and to succeed at it. With that in mind, let’s look at some tips you can use if you’re switching industries or careers for the first time.

1. Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible. If you’ve been hired somewhere new, your employer will be happy to know that you’re taking a genuine interest in what you do and want to perform your job well. 

If you’re starting a new business and aren’t sure about something, ask someone who might know or who have been in the operations behind business!

There is no shame in asking questions and trying to soak up more knowledge, especially in an industry you don’t know much about.

Asking questions is how you’ll learn and grow, but it’s important to ask the right people. 

2. Try the Gradual Switch Strategy

When a fish is about to be transferred from one aquarium to the other, it is not just picked from one water and thrown into the other. It is first put in a bag with some of the new water and old water so that they can get used to the new water.

Frankly, if you try out a swift transition, you might just come back to meet a dead fish. This is also the case when it comes to switching industries. You cannot transit swiftly, this strategy fails 90% of the time.

You have to try your hand in the water first before you jump in. Let us say you are an actor and you want to try out music, why not start by acting a script that permits you to sing or write a theme song for the movie. See how fans receive it.

If you want to do a more critical industry switch like a magazine company to a real estate firm, then try incorporating some real estate contents in your magazine to see how your readers take it.

If you got some positive reviews from fans and readers respectively, then this should serve as a foundation for my next step.

3. Network, Network, Network

Once you start to get more familiar with your industry, it’s important to grow within it. One of the best ways to do that is still with good, old-fashioned networking.

Chances are, you’re switching industries because you have a passion for the latter. 

Get out there and share that passion with others as much as possible. For many people, it can be refreshing to see someone so invested and captivated by the work they’re doing. It can help you to become successful much quicker.

Networking will also allow you to meet people in similar industries that can help you and guide you along the way. 

Don’t let the fear of trying something new scare you away from following your passion or a new dream.

A career change (at any point in your life) doesn’t have to be within the same industry you’ve been in before.

Yes, a major switch can take time, effort, and a lot of patience. But, the rewards can be well worth it if you’re truly committed to trying something new with your career or business for the first time.

4. Conduct Proper Research

The good thing about the internet and our generation is that you no longer have to put your hand into the water to know how hot it is.

What I imply is, you no longer have to use the trial and error method. Trial and error method when it comes to switching industries or career is a no-no my list.

Clearly, you are dealing with money if not a chunk of it. If you cannot afford a second chance, why act on theory rather than facts. Conduct deep research on the new industry, try to find out as much as you can about how the system works on that side. If, for example, you’re switching to a tech career, gaining information from resources like this Coursera review is crucial for your path.

This is so that you are not blindsided by people who may want to capitalize on your assumed lack of experience or information. Trust me, the look on the face of people who try to cheat you when they find out you actually know the game is priceless.

5. Know Your Personal Strengths in Your Current Industry

You have to know your strengths before you switch industries. I will use the entertainment industry as an example again. If you are an actor and you are trying to switch niche to music, you have to know your strengths as an actor so that you can successfully transfer it to music.

It could be your charm, attitude, charisma or even something as little as your smile you will also need in your switch. It might also apply to the other industry.

The two industries may have nothing in common but you can transfer what distinguishes you in the previous industry to your next industry.

I will explain what I mean to you later on. You, however, have to know your strengths as a magazine company in order to transfer it successfully to the real estate.

6. Capitalize On Your Strengths

Once you know your strengths, it is time to capitalize on it effectively. If you had a well-received charisma amongst your fans while you were acting, keep that charisma and try to up it a notch if you can.

If you publish authentic contents on your magazine, don’t let that die because of your industry switch. Keep the authenticity of using unique words when marketing your real estate business.

Choose the strength that you are most known for and make that your motto when switching industries.

If you are known for authenticity, then your motto should be about original and quality service. This way you can be sure to drag some fans along with you to the other side.

7. Consider Bridging

There is no law that says you can’t be an actor and a musician. There is also no law that says you can’t be a magazine company and start a real estate firm. In fact, bridging two industries can be the perfect blend if played properly.

Imagine a magazine company that not only gives their readers information on the latest real estate but also offer real estate sales to readers.

This is a goldmine, a free avenue for adverts to reach a large audience without paying a dime. You can also run adverts for non-real estate brands or companies. It is a win-win scenario for you.

You get to keep your magazine, however, you might have to tweak it a little bit to become a magazine that talks only about real estate or get some professional writers to do that for you.

Be careful so that you are not tagged as the jack of all trade. You still need to maintain your niche. This is why the previous tip is quite important. You have to ease into the new industry.

You clearly cannot jump on a moving train but you’ll have to slow it down before you join it.

8. Immerse Yourself In The New Culture

You need to engross yourself with the doctrine and culture of the new industry. This includes understanding how the industry works, who started it and who you should give due respect to.

This is very important especially when it comes to acceptance. You want to be accepted and not ostracized. You want to be accepted when you finally switch.

Let’s say you used to be a pop singer and you now want to do rap music, the last thing you want to do is talk bad about 2pac or Naz. That is career suicide in the Hip-Hop industry.

You need to immerse yourself in the norms so that you don’t kill your new career before it even starts.

9. Link Up With Legends

You remember what I said about not wanting to put your hands into a bowl to see if it is hot or not, well this is also very important if you don’t want to have a firsthand experience of how daunting it can be when switching industries.

You can link up with people who may have tried the kind of switch you are attempting. It doesn’t matter if they succeeded or not, in fact, I will advise you to look out for people who failed before they succeeded.

This way you will learn about what to avoid so that you don’t end up on the wrong side of history.

10. Understand the Industry’s Concept of Consumer

The concept of consumer or customer in your former industry might not necessarily apply in your new industry. Firstly, it is clear that you might no longer have the same customers from the former industry patronizing your services or product. Therefore, you will have to understand and restructure your brand or CV for new consumers/customers.

There is a sort of plot twist for people who claim to be their own boss because they own the business. The truth is, yes you run your own company, brand or business, but you must be providing a solution to a problem through a product or service to customers.

Therefore, the customer is your target. You have to find out who your target is immediately you start working in your new job. This also applies to switching industries. You have to find out who your customers are, what they want & what they do not know they need but you can provide.

11. Make Sure You Have The Right Qualification

First of all, before you begin to make any commitments, you have to make sure you truly have the talent or the qualifications. You don’t want to deceive yourself into thinking you have talent when you don’t.

You really don’t want to switch industries and discover you don’t have what it takes to succeed in it.

It is said that your opinion about yourself and your own validation should matter more than anyone else’s. However, sometimes we tell ourselves we can do a particular thing when, in reality, we really can’t.

Imagine a high school teacher, who is used to the confines of schools, taking up the big step to start a real estate business without any form of skill acquisition or knowledge of the industry.

Do not allow your case to be similar, make sure you have the talent even if it is a drop of genuine interest that can be developed.

12. Set Achievable Goals

Once you start making progress with your transition, it is time to make achievable goals. What do you want to achieve in this new industry? This can serve as business or personal goals.

They will serve as a map to know where you are currently and where you are going. The thing about goals is that they will guide until you get to where you need to be.

Most industry switch crash, not at the beginning, but in the long run because they simply have no long term goals.

13. Find Your IVI

IVI is the acronym for Identity, Vision and Intention. It is an acronym that is popularly used in the music industry as AVI (Artist Identity, Vision, Intention).

Your identity as a brand is very important if you want to really stand out in the new market. What is your story? These are questions that will assist you in answering the identity question which is most important for any industry newcomer.

Such questions aren’t as simple as they seem. Some people have amazing stories to support their brand identity. Your identity is also what makes you unique. What is it about you that makes you different from the others?

Another important thing you need to know is your vision. 

Your intentions also need to be decided from the onset. Why are you taking this step? What are you bringing to the table? These are great questions to help you figure out your intentions.

14. Monitor The Legal Side Of Things

Most times while we chase our dream career or try to switch industries, it is easy to overlook the legal side of things.

When immersing yourself in the culture of the business, make sure you also immerse yourself in the legalities of the new industry.

Sometimes, it tends to get a little messy if no one is paying attention to it. 

15. Set Up a Team

A wise man once said you cannot truly reach that place you should be without a team around you. A team is very necessary if you want to truly attain a significant level of success in your career.

No man is an island and there is only so little one man can do. So get you a diligent and hardworking team that will make your business successful.

If you’re an employee, carefully choose the kind of close associates you will have. 

16. Save up

Switching industries can come with a very significant drop in pay. Therefore, before embarking on this journey, make sure you already have the financial backing to chase your new dream.

Financial constraints can cause small start-ups to close down before anybody even knows their name. 

You don’t want to go down with history as the man or woman who attempted a big switch in industries and ended up broke with no pay from either side of the bridge.

Just make sure you have something in your savings for rough times during the switch.

17. Brace up

I don’t think any writer, blogger or YouTuber has the right to tell you that switching industries is a simple task, because frankly, it’s not.

I used to know a guy that wanted to switch over from stage playwriting to proper screenwriting. He was good with playwriting and people loved his work.

The problem was that he wasn’t taken seriously. Even after displaying his exceptional stories, production companies were still hesitant to give him opportunities.

The truth is that once you are an established name in a particular field, people want to see more of that and not a sudden change. It takes confidence and immense strong-will to be able to keep going despite discouragements from people.

18. Find a Mentor to Help You

An average person switches their career anywhere from 5-7 times in their lifetime. So, if you feel like you’re starting over, don’t worry! You’re not alone. However, asking the right people will make your transition easy.

When you’re stepping into a new industry for the first time, it can be a good idea to find a mentor. Find someone who can guide you through the ins and outs of what to expect.

It’s also a good idea to do your research. But, sometimes getting information directly from another person can make it easier.

You’ll be able to retain the knowledge and put it to good use. Working underneath someone to learn more about an industry is a great way to get started.

I hope the information above guides you through your career switch. Good luck! 

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Post Author: Chibuike Nwogbo

Nwogbo Chibuike is a student of Electronics and Computer engineering at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He started writing at the age of 10 by learning new things and writing about what he has learnt. Specifically, he likes the feeling of creating another world through writing. He is also a dedicated Christian.

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