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Try an unconventional career path

By Kaitlin Madden,
If the desk job is boring you, take a risk a try something new.
If the desk job is boring you, take a risk a try something new.
  • M*A*S*H star Wayne Rogers gives advice on how to find success by working for yourself
  • Bigger is not better: Fight the urge to make growth and size the overarching goals
  • "Pick partners and associates you trust and have them trust you," Rogers says

( -- Some people just aren't hardwired for the traditional workplace. If you get bored easily, have many interests, like to take risks and prefer to make your own rules, then you may be one of them.

So what's an unconventional worker like you to do? Well, you can either suffer through decades of being someone's employee, unfulfilled and bored, or you can take a risk and create your own path to success by working for yourself.

Wayne Rogers, an entrepreneur, businessman and actor (famous for his roles on television series like "M*A*S*H" and "House Calls") did just that. In a career that epitomizes the word "unconventional," Rogers has been involved in everything from the wine-making and bridal businesses, to acting on stage and owning a film-distribution company.

In his new book "Make Your Own Rules: A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success," Rogers details how he was able to triumph in such a wide variety of business endeavors, all of which were independent pursuits. Here are some of his top tips for finding success through working independently, as discussed in his book:

1. Don't limit yourself: Many people believe that because their educational background or work experience lends itself to a particular field, that their career choices must lay within that field.

Not so, says Rogers. "This will surprise you, but the common thread to the various businesses in which I have been involved is that I had never previously been in them."

While many would see a lack of experience as a deterrent to entering a particular business, Rogers saw it as a benefit.

"It was an advantage that I had no rules to follow, no premade decisions, no 'books' to tell me how to find success. This allowed me to take a creative approach rather than an administrative approach," he says. "It is my belief that the best results in business come from a creative process, from the ability to see things differently from everyone else, and from finding answers to problems that are not bound by the phrase 'we have always done it this way.'"

2. Get comfortable with "red tape:" These days, even small businesses are subject to a variety of federal, state and local regulations, so if you want to start your own, these regulations should be learned and lived by.

"Your ability to comply with the blizzard of paperwork and reports required by various rules that come down from Washington, D.C., your state capital or your local zoning board may mean the difference between success and failure," Rogers says.

Meals on wheels

3. Remember that bigger is not better: Fight the urge to make growth and size the overarching goals of your business. "Size is not efficient," Rogers says.

"Not that long ago, there were several automobile manufacturers, including Nash, Kaiser, Hudson, Studebaker and Packard. They had to compete with one another. Was it difficult? Yes, but it led to innovation."

By contrast, he says, today's Big Three automakers -- Ford, General Motors and Chrysler -- have become complacent with their products; so much so that they were overtaken by foreign competitors and forced into their respective financial crises. Keep your business small, and you keep your business innovative, he says.

4. Work with good people: Choose the people you bring into your business wisely, Rogers says. "Pick partners and associates you trust and have them trust you. Both of these processes will almost certainly affect the outcome of what you are doing," he says. "Picking whom to trust ... is based on using your instinct, observing people's behavior and judging the consequences of their actions."

In addition to being trustworthy, your business partners and employees should also share your mindset. "I have found that it is always easier for me to understand someone who operates outside the mainstream and who looks at things differently from others in his field," Rogers says.

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