Growing up, a corporate career was all I’d ever wanted. To me, a suit, sky high heels and having a mobile phone glued to my ear seemed like the visual representation of success. Until I reached it however, and on looking in the mirror, realised that it actually represented a stressed out twenty something at the peak of the corporate success ladder… with an addiction to caffeine, an aversion to leaving the office early ‘just in case’ and who couldn’t remember the last time that they’d actually slept for more than five hours.
Sure enough, four years later I was done. Like the proverbial turkey, I was practically chargrilled from my time in the corporate world. Burned out, stressed to the max and on the verge of jumping from the 30th floor just to catch a break.
It was actually a client of mine who asked me if I’d ever thought of running my own business. We were finalising some paperwork on a deal that I’d arranged when he asked whether I’d ever thought about going into business myself. I laughed and gave my stock answer;
Working in sales means that I’m great at selling other people’s ideas… but that I’m basically talentless in my own right
He looked at me and in a very serious voice, proceeded to outline a number of things that he called talents … and that I called common sense. But it sparked an idea. The desire to build a business. To work from home. I put the thought away in the little ‘To Do’ box in my head and every so often thought about it… but had no real reason to do anything too drastic.
Cue major burnout a year later…
Doctors diagnosed me with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) a nasty medical condition characterised by long term fatigue that manifested itself in me not being able to do the most basic of everyday tasks. In constant pain and with my body in hibernation mode, doctors told me that I needed a drastic lifestyle change… in other words, get out of the daily grind ASAP.
My bosses were sympathetic — but there was no room for a corporate sales employee to work from home. I needed to find a new solution and I remembered the client who’d made the suggestion about building my own business. Suddenly it didn’t seem so crazy.
I gave myself three months to decide;
- What I wanted to do and what I was going to sell.
- How I was going to exit my corporate job
- How I would support myself financially; budgeting, planning ahead for the new business, funding etc.
- How I would factor in rest and relaxation time; there was no room for me to burnout again.
I spent my weekends making numerous mindmaps and conducting a lot of market research. Using the skills that I’d developed throughout my corporate career, I realised that my true passion was teaching people how to sell — and that the area of the market that needed the assistance most, were small/ medium service based online entrepreneurs who weren’t able to scale their business through sales.
Putting the strategy into practise alongside a full time job was slightly more challenging — but after three months of working in my business as well as putting in 100% into my job, I was ready to leave. And one Friday morning, walked into a meeting with my boss to explain that I was leaving the early morning tube journeys to commute from my bedroom to my home office.
It was terrifying
The first year of my business wasn’t exactly the carefree laptop lifestyle that I had planned on… more of a whirlwind to build my brand, my audience and my range of services. However, within six months I was making my corporate salary — whilst only working three days a week (and taking lots of time to rest and recuperate!)
So how did I do it?
Firstly, there’s no ‘magic pill’ coming here — I didn’t wake up overnight as a six figure business owner. But there were four simple steps that I used to speed up the process;
- Clarity: Get very clear on what you want to sell and who you want to sell it to. And only sell what you know , selling products/ services that are designed to catch people’s eyes/ emotions but that you can’t fulfil or don’t believe in are a sure recipe for disaster. The lifetime value of a customer is worth much more than your first sale.
- Communication: Know your message and communicate it effectively. Focus your marketing efforts in the platforms that you enjoy using / that you can see a clear ROI. Make sure that you clearly demonstrate what you do and who you can help.
- Cash: Sell. It sounds simple, but over 80% of female business owners admit that they only sell ONCE per week which just isn’t effective for a long term/ volume sales strategy. You must aim to offer a sales opportunity at least once per day (whether active, proactive or automated) to keep your customers coming. I go into more detail about exactly how to do this with my free trainings in my Facebook group, Fabulous Female Entrepreneurs.
- Care: Running a business (especially a service based business,) is not easy — and you’ll find that you’re often asked to compromise on your own boundaries for clients. By implementing simple and effective rest days and making self care a priority, I was able to overdeliver to my clients whilst still making my own health a priority. And two and a half years later, I’m still free from burnout.
Creating a business requires hard work and determination — but the rewards pay off quickly if you follow (and implement!) a clear strategy.
Originally published at medium.com