Five reasons why starting up a business is easier than you think

Are you considering starting your own business? Our guest blogger, Helena Stone, explains why it’s not as difficult as you might think.

Whether your bank account, sense of achievement – or both – need a top-up, you may find yourself ready to hop back on the work wagon. But possibly circumstances have changed and a 9-5 isn’t right for your lifestyle anymore.

This is when many women begin considering alternatives to returning to employment, such as starting up on their own.

The catalyst for me to go it alone was the loss of my brother. It made me re-evaluate my priorities. I realised that though I loved the excitement and challenge of my work, I wanted more family time, flexibility and a greater ability to grow.

I know it can feel like a big step and we can waste a lot of time talking ourselves out of taking the plunge.

So, here are five reasons why going it alone isn’t as difficult as you might believe:

1. Your experience as an employee counts. A lot!

Don’t think of yourself as starting from zero.

I spent twenty years in HR and change management. I specialised in these fields when I started my business but I drew on my experiences of delivering a service, people development and public speaking to expand my offering as a change management consultant, confidence expert and speaker.

That’s not to say your business idea has to be related to your previous career – far from it. Maybe you’ve got a burning passion that you’ve always wanted to turn into a job. Now’s the time!

Whatever your work history, so much that you’ve learnt as an employee is transferable – relationship building, leadership, crisis management. Draw on your bank of knowledge.

And don’t disregard the skills you’ve picked up during your career break.

Raising children, for example, tests your talents for logistics, listening, time management and multi-tasking…not to mention patience…

2. Perfection isn’t necessary …and actually, it’s not realistic.

As the slogan goes, “just do it”. If you put off setting up your business until everything is just right, you’ll never start.

What worked for me (and still does!) is taking daily action. Focusing on progress, not instant wins.

I’m a big believer in finding your ‘zone of genius’. It’s taken trial and error for me to uncover what really works but it’s meant my business and I have evolved and grown stronger.

Sounds like a corny reality show line but it really is all about the journey.

3. You can just be you

Some of us feel at home in a traditional office role and thrive in a world of structure, suits and management. For others, it’s a little restrictive. And some like a bit of both.

Whichever camp you fall into, creating your own business gives you the freedom to just be yourself. Want to set your own fabulous, funky dress code? Knock yourself out. Bit of a mad cat lady at heart? Perfect. Throw all that into the mix.

People buy from people they like. Combine professionalism with being authentically you and you’ll naturally make human connections – a crucial part of your sales pitch.

4. You can start up on a shoestring
 
Investing in your business is important but you certainly don’t need big bucks from the off.

In fact, in most cases, all you need is a laptop and phone.

Plus, there are numerous free on and offline support groups of like-minded people, willing to trade skills and help each other out. And really milk social media for all its worth! It’s not only a great free publicity tool but I find it brilliant for researching clients and testing the best ways to engage with them.

If you do have budget to begin with, a mentor or coach is an investment that will pay dividends. They’ll offer invaluable guidance, give the benefit of their experience and help provide focus and clarity.

5. You’ve got it in you…you just might not realise

Starting a business is scary especially if you’ve also had a lengthy period away from employment.

It takes resilience. But this is something you can work on.

Rather than being knocked back when something goes wrong, reframe how you view the situation. Focus on the positives – what have you learnt? What could you do differently next time?

Take a breather and clear your head. But don’t dwell on it or allow it to defeat you.

Bouncebackability builds resilience (plus it’s a great word). After all, think of all the famous entrepreneurs you know of – I’ll bet you can’t name one who didn’t overcome numerous hurdles to get where they are today.

 

Helena Stone is a change management consultant with a background in senior HR roles spanning 20 years. She works with organisations to increase productivity, efficiency and value in their business. 

She also delivers workshops on confidence and empowering women in the workplace. www.helenastoneconsultancy.com


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You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.

 

How to write your New Year return-to-work action plan

Is Returning to Work one of your 2019 Resolutions? 

How do you make sure you don’t let this fall by the wayside like New Year resolutions tend to do? Shift your thinking to make Returning to Work a goal, with a clear, specific and motivating personal action plan. Here are some of our suggestions on actions to include.
Action Steps to Get Back to Work

1. Clarify what you want from work 

Start by considering what your motivations are for returning to work. Do you need, or want, to earn your own money? Are you looking for the status a professional job brings? Do you want to be a role model for your children? Returning to work after a career break is a great opportunity to think about what you really want to do, so consider what kind of working life and job you would find most fulfilling and enjoyable. Think about what you most enjoyed about past roles and whether or not you need flexibility. You may prefer a corporate employed role, to work as a freelancer or to set up your own business.
Identifying your strengths can help you decide which career direction to take. And read our tips if you feel you have too many return-to-work options or too few. Don’t over-analyse at this stage – the ‘what shall I do with my life?’ career questions can rarely be solved just by brain-power. Move to action using a Test and Learn approach.

2. Fill the gaps in your work experience/skillset

Once you’re clearer on the broad direction you want to take, it’s time to identify any gaps in your experience and any new skills you will need. Get up to date with your old industry, or learn about a new one, by taking professional courses through industry associations, attending conferences, seminars or webinars, signing up to relevant newsletters and meeting up with ex-colleagues. Find courses locally through Floodlight and look at the free online MOOCs (Massive Online Courses). If you’re worried about your IT skills being out of date, take a course before you get back to work. Strategic volunteering can build your skills and experience and may even provide a route back to work.

3. Craft your return-to-work story

Talking about your career break and how it fits into your professional story can be tricky. Use our ‘Career Break Sandwich’ method so that you don’t fall into the trap of focusing solely on your career break (and neglecting your professional background) in response to the classic questions “what do you do?” or “tell me about your background?”.

4. Rebuild your work confidence

A loss of professional confidence can be a key factor in preventing you from making a successful return to work. Don’t let this hamper you – read our blogs on Re-establishing Your Confidence and addressing the Confidence Gap.

5. Re-write your CV and develop your LinkedIn profile

If you’ve been out of the workplace for any length of time it’s likely to be many years since you last wrote your CV. We have lots of CV information in the Advice Hub section of our website including How to Write Your Post-Break CV and the use of Action Words. A strong LinkedIn profile is also important – read our blog on how to make the most of your profile.

6. Select potential routes back to work

There are many routes back to work such as returnshipsnetworking and creative crafting of a role. Consider which ones would work best for you.
7. Prepare for interviews
Facing your first interview for many years can be daunting, and we have lots of advice on our website to help you prepare. Six Essential Steps for Successful Interviewing is a good place to start. We have advice on how to prepare for competency-based interviews, informational interviews and telephone interviews. You can also read how to respond if an interviewer tells you you’re overqualified for the role and what to wear to interviews.
8. Maintain your motivation

Our motivation to achieve our goals inevitably fades after a while. Learn from psychology research about how to stay motivated longer-term.

9. Come along to our Women Returners 2019 Conference!
If you’d like a return to work boost, join us in London on 19 May. It’s a highly motivational day packed with return-to-work advice, support and inspiration and the opportunity to meet informally with employer sponsors and other like-minded women. The day will be relevant to you no matter where you are on your return-to-work journey. Find out more about our Conference here and book your place at the Super Early Bird price of £80 (available until 27 January).
Sign up to our free network for more advice, support and job opportunities.

You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.