Here’s a piece that recently was featured on http://www.crainsdetroit.com/
By: Shawn Wright
Name: Linda Yellin, 59
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Wayne State University.
Last career: Mental health therapist and consultant in private practice, specializing in pre- and post-adoption services.
New career: Founder of Detroit-based Feet on the Street Tours, which offers bus, walking and bike tours centered on food, art, architecture, history, music and unique neighborhoods.
Why she decided to change careers: While continuing her day job as a social worker, Yellin began taking people on informal tours to places such as Eastern Market.
She said the draws were similar to her profession in the field of social work — doing something she believed in, wanting to make a difference and reaching out to the community.
“It evolved over time from a personal interest,” Yellin said.
Yellin was spending more time offering tours and outings for groups, seniors and various organizations to assist in their fundraising efforts.
“It was growing by word of mouth, so I decided to formalize it and make it a business four years ago.”
How she made the transition:
Two years ago, Yellin decided to take a business development class through TechTown, Wayne State’s technology park and business incubator.
“The yearlong class was helpful in providing assistance and instruction on the key elements needed in a business,” Yellin said.
“Mentoring to better form our business plan and being in a class with other entrepreneurs was especially helpful. They were supportive, kind and willing to reach out, since my background was not in the traditional business sense.”
From starting as the sole employee, Yellin now has an administrative assistant and tour guides.
“We just hired two more assistant guides, as this coming year will see the most growth,” Yellin said. “We already have some customized tours planned.”
For example, Feet on the Street Tours will launch art tours in Detroit called “First Wednesdays,” partnering with the Arts League of Michigan and the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center in Paradise Valley.
Obstacles overcome: “I was very weak when it came to understanding the growth of the … Web, using social media, and feeling behind in my understanding of all the ways the computer works,” Yellin said.
“This is still one of my main weaknesses, so I have staff that assists with these things.”
Advice for others: “Do something you believe in,” Yellin said. “(But) seek the advice and skills of others sometimes. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know until I was in the middle of a mess. It helps to brainstorm, identify weaknesses (and) strengths and plan ways to be more focused.”
If you have made a similar change in your career or know someone who has made an interesting career transition, contact Jennette Smith, deputy managing editor at Crain’s Detroit Business, at firstname.lastname@example.org.