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
Sign up to our free Women Returners network for more advice, support and job opportunities.
You’ll find much more help and advice on our website.