Is your job leaving you perpetually exhausted? Do you long for the freedom that comes from being your own boss? Have you always aspired to work for yourself?
Maybe you want to build an empire, or maybe you just want to create a life where you have more ownership over your time, work around your family, work from anywhere in the world, or just work in your PJ’s on the sofa. Maybe the job you do drains you, and you long to do something that makes your soul sing.
If you’re considering quitting the 9-5 and branching out on your own, grab a cuppa and read on to find out how I quit the 9-5 and branched out on my own.
So what did I do before working for myself?
After graduating with a Business Degree in 2003, I joined a Graduate Scheme with a large corporate IT Recruitment agency in Leeds. I worked my way up from a Trainee to a Principal Consultant, where I led a team of Consultants. I left in 2008 and set up my first recruitment business in 2008, and sold up two years later when I started a family. I took some time out to raise my first two baby boys (now aged 6 & 7), before setting up on my own again in 2012. Since then I’ve welcomed a third baby boy into the world (now 3) and have juggled working for myself and parenting since.
What kind of business did I set up?
An IT recruitment agency, offering tailored recruitment solutions to meet the individual requirements of a multitude of clients in an ever-changing market. Based in Leeds, my company recruited IT Professionals across the UK, specialising in Digital, Design, Development, Testing, IT Support, Business and Systems Analysis, Project Management, Change Management, Service Delivery, IT Security, and Senior Appointments. Clients include small startups, SMEs, and also some pretty impressive national corporates!
What made me decide to branch out on my own back then?
I was working long hours with the corporate agency and it seemed the more I achieved, the more they wanted from me! I was billing over half a million pounds a year, and I was burnt out. I loved my clients, and had built some great relationships over the years, but the ever increasing demands of my corporate bosses meant I was constantly having to increase my fees, and it became more about targets and less about people. I decided I wanted to call the shots, and I knew I could provide an excellent service to my clients at a fraction of the cost (whilst still making a great living for myself), and really focus on client relationships rather than just making deals.
What’s my biggest achievement since taking the leap?
Setting up my second recruitment business with nothing but a laptop, a phone, a white board, and a whole load of grit and determination. My boys were so young, my husband worked away a lot, and I juggled motherhood and starting a new business (simultaneously nurturing a small business and small humans is not for the faint hearted). It was tough, as I had no support from family with childcare etc, but I did it (superheroes have got nothing on me - I’ve literally cornered the market on multitasking). I’m proud that I’m mum to 3 beautiful boys, I’m there for every school pick up and drop off, every school play, every party, every sick day, hospital appointment and school holiday - and I’ve also run hugely successful businesses. People often ask “Can women have it all? Can you run a business and family successfully?” My answer is always Hell to the Yes! You can be a mum and a business woman. I’m living proof!
I've taken yet another leap of faith, having said goodbye to a successful business and closed the door on a career that spanned 15 years, to pursue my passion... writing!
Since as far back as I can remember, I've wanted to write. Fiction, non-fiction, children's books... I've always loved writing, and although I embarked on a Writers Bureau course whilst on maternity leave with my first boy, I thought that dream was just that - a dream. After all I had built up a life that relied on my salary and I had responsibilities, kids, a mortgage etc. However in early 2018 after experiencing some pretty drastic changes in my life, there was never a more fitting moment to grab life by the bollocks and take my chance. So here I am now, starting out on a whole new path at 38, and I couldn't be more excited! Bring it on!
What advice would I give to other women who want to take the leap and work for themselves?
- Don’t be afraid to take an unfamiliar path, but know your market.
- People will always have an opinion on what you’re doing, whether it concerns the type of business you’re setting up or simply because you’re taking the unconventional route of quitting secure employment. Remember, you don’t have to listen to them!
- Surround yourself with people who encourage and support you.
- Be deliberate and be afraid of nothing. Call upon the Lion inside!
- Plan your work and work your plan! Be organised, plan your day in advance and map out your short, medium and long term goals.
- Set up a designated work area - you don’t have to have a flash office, this could be kitchen table or a corner of the dining room, but make it nice, and have your ‘work stuff’ close by and easily accessible.
- Time is such a precious commodity, so use it wisely. If you’re a working mum, define the boundary between work and motherhood - exclusively commit yourself to your business during work hours then challenge yourself to disconnect when it’s family time.
- Despite the above, be prepared for the 9-5 to become the 24/7! Even if you have clear boundaries as to when you’ll start/finish work, if you’re passionate about your business it will likely occupy your every waking thought and you may find it difficult to switch off. However if these thoughts excite and inspire you, you’re on the right path and you’ve done the right thing by following your passion.
- Be prepared to live lean. If you’re branching out on your own, you’re likely going to have to adapt and be careful with money for a while (unless you’re fortunate enough to have a stash of cash behind you). This can be really empowering as you realise you don’t need things to make you happy. True happiness stems from carving out a life that allows you to feel excited and energised about your work. Much more satisfying than a new pair of shoes!
- Allow yourself to be proud of yourself and all the progress you’ve made (especially the progress that no one else sees). Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back if no-one else is doing it for you! Be kind to yourself too.
- Don’t compare yourself to others - you’re not in competition with anyone else. It doesn’t matter what others are doing (ignore what everyone else is doing and achieving), it matters what YOU are doing. We’re all on our own paths. Life is about breaking your own limits and being the best version of you. The sun and moon don’t compete, they both shine in their own time.
- Join a network of other business owners and surround yourself with people with whom you can share your successes (and tough times) and simply bring out the best in each other! Get rid of any drama or negativity and stay away from people who dull your shine.
- You can overlook your own care at the expense of work (and family, if it applies), so take time for yourself to recharge, and make yourself a priority sometimes. Every level of your life will demand a different version of you, whether it’s bossing a presentation or sales pitch to a new client, cheering your kids on in the sack race (cue competitive mum) or wiping wee off the toilet seat for the 100th time that day whilst closing a deal (yes, I’ve done that #MumOfBoys).
- Don’t say maybe when you actually want to say no (is that mothering or business advice? Both!)
- Trust your gut - it’s the best friend you’ll ever have! If something feels wrong, it’s usually because it is. Listen to yourself (I mean really listen, meditate if you have to). Designing a new logo? Go for what YOU love, not what other people think looks best. Don’t want to work on a particular project or with a particular client? Don’t be afraid to refuse politely. I always struggled to say no, but now I’m not afraid to decline work requests (in fact it’s quite empowering).
- Finally, whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy.
How do you know if you’re ready to quit the 9-5? Here’s 20 useful questions to ask yourself:
- Do you know what kind of business you want to have? (Products / Services)
- Do you already have experience in this type of role, or an in-depth knowledge of your product?
- Have you researched the market and the competition?
- Are you passionate about your business idea/service offering?
- Have you created a solid business plan?
- Have you got a marketing strategy?
- Are you able to follow a plan but adapt to change when necessary?
- Have you decided if you will start the business alongside your 9-5 or go all-in and quit your job?
- Are you committed to doing what it takes to make it work?
- Have you got enough savings to support yourself until your business starts earning?
- Do you have a back up plan for if it doesn’t work?
- Do you have any experience with other aspects of running a business i.e. marketing/accounts?
- Have you decided where you will work? Do you have space to set up a home office? Have you worked from home before?
- Are you effective at motivating yourself?
- Do you have a support network / advisors who you can lean on for help/advice/brainstorming?
- Can you manage your time effectively?
- Are you confident making decisions?
- Are you happy to make (and learn by your) mistakes? Can you forgive yourself failures?
- Are you tenacious and able to bounce back from setbacks?
- Are you ready for the highs and lows, the twists and turns, the unforeseen?
If you’ve answered yes to most of these, you’re well on your way!
Here’s to taking the steps towards carving out the life you’ve always dreamed of, waking up happy and excited every morning and never dreading a Monday ever again!
Much love, Fran xxx
ABOUT BOSSING IT!
BossingIt! aims to empower and inspire women to be strong and independent, and to illustrate that life is there for the taking and that YOU are in control of it. I want to encourage you to realise your potential, so you can grab life by the balls and carve out the life you wholeheartedly want to live, so you can feel joy and gratitude each and every day, and ultimately be the very best version of yourself. I want to share the belief that if you’re not 100% happy with any aspect of your life, be it work, relationships, parenting, health & fitness, or life in general, it’s never too late to change things or even start anew completely. Every day is a new opportunity to start over, to be who you want to be, and YOU get to write and rewrite your story!