In today’s episode, Anna discusses how deciding to quit your job and start your business, is only the beginning and there will be many more brave decisions, as well as a lot of hard work, if you’re truly going to create an alternative life and career outside of the 9 to 5.
When I quit my corporate job back in 2013, I thought: “WOOHOO! This is it! I’ve made The Decision and now I’m going to live my best and most fulfilling life!” And I had an incredible few months after that decision, when I experienced the true freedom of not having an office to go to in the morning and instead just travelling, reading and having a wonderful time. Then that freedom turned to panic as I realised that not only did I not have an office to go to, I also didn’t have a salary coming into my bank account each month.
When I completed my coaching training and certification in 6 months instead of the planned 2 years and published my business website, I thought: “WOOHOO! This is it! I have a business and I’m going to be an incredibly successful coach!” And I had a few people visiting the website and even got a handful of clients at the beginning. Then the months passed without much else happening, and I soon realised that I was working through my savings at an alarming rate.
Deciding to quit your job and start your business, as it turns out, is only the very first step – it’s a big step, and a courageous one, but it’s only the beginning and there will be many more brave decisions, as well as a lot of hard work, if you’re truly going to create an alternative life and career outside of the 9 to 5.
So what’s next? What happens after that first decision to start your business? Find out on this week’s podcast episode!
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5– After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside
Hello, hello there and welcome back to the Reimagining Success podcast.
There is a lot going on here and I’m really excited about what is still to come. Can you believe it? We’re well into October now. It was my birthday last week. I celebrated one year, not my one-year birthday, don’t worry, but rather the anniversary of my book, Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5: Stories from people who’ve done it (and how you can too!), published on my birthday in 2018, so 3rd of October – if you want to say happy birthday to me next year. That was one year on my birthday, which was fantastic. We spent the week in Majorca in Spain, which was very nice. Funnily enough, it was a very productive and very relaxing week away, so all good.
Now, of course, we are into October. We’re getting close to the end of the year. Can you believe it? Let’s not rush through the next three months. But we do have exactly that, 90 days – less than a 100 days, three months, 12 weeks, whatever you want to call it – to get a headstart on 2020, which is a new decade. Not just a new year but a new decade! Super exciting. Lots still to come this year but of course even more things to come next year and I look forward to you joining me on this ride. Now in the last few weeks, of course, we had The Corporate Escape Plan workshop over on Facebook in the Facebook group, One Step Outside. We are going to do this again relatively soon actually because I know lots of you missed it. You’ve joined the group since then and some of you we just didn’t quite get through the workshop because it was pretty intense and life happens, you are moving and you were changing jobs and countries and all sorts of things so we want to give you a second chance now to work through that. Keep an eye out for that: The Corporate Escape Plan workshop.
As we speak, we’re getting started now with the latest round of the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 programme. I opened up again a few weeks ago. Very exciting because I’ve doubled the length of the programme. I’ve doubled the content, doubled the frequency of calls, so double the results. Really excited to have some of you – who may be listening to this podcast right now – joining me in that programme as well. And of course, if you are still interested in joining then do get in touch and let me know. You can always reach me at email@example.com.
What’s happening today? Well, I wanted to look at the next step really.
We talk about leaving your job, leaving the nine to five. That’s the name of my book. One Step Outside the 9 to 5 is the programme. Okay, you’ve quit your job, you’ve decided to quit. What on earth happens next? And if you can bear with me, I want to share what happened when I quit my job. And in fact, to some extent, I’ve quit my job twice. Let me explain.
Now back in 2013, and you may have heard this before, so apologies, but it’s important I think to share it for the insight that it gives you both in terms of the experience I’ve had and also I think it’s very illustrative of what happens to other people and what I’ve seen in clients and even friends and colleagues over and over.
I initially took a sabbatical in 2013. I think it was, I want to say May, June, July 2013, halfway through that I quit. We’re not even going to explore the decision to quit. Let’s just assume I have quit. I called up HR and my boss, handed in my notice, officially resigned and I had two months of staying – the notice period I guess. But I had already handed over my work really before I’d left on sabbatical so there wasn’t so much for me to do. I think if I had been a lesser individual, maybe I wouldn’t have bothered to turn up to the office. But I did. I went in for lots of coffees and a few token meetings here and there, but I basically had a month or two minus vacation days and so on.
I made that decision. I quit my job. I thought, “Woohoo! This is it! I have made the decision, capital T, capital D and now I’m going to live my best and most fulfilling life.” And let me tell you, I had an incredible few months. Hilariously, when I came back from that trip, people asked me, colleagues asked me, “Oh you must be so sad to be back after such a lovely time away?” And I said, “Nope, because I’ve quit. I’m gone for good.” And it felt incredible, let me tell you, and I’m sure you have experienced that too, if you have already quit your job. And it was so exciting and I can’t even remember exactly what I did the subsequent months but I know I had a wedding in New York, so thanks Stephanie.
That was an incredible time. I went to, I want to say Croatia with my mum. I don’t know what else I did… I travelled all over the place and I, as you can imagine, was spending my savings very enthusiastically, just sort of enjoying that time off because as many of us, I hadn’t really gone off that so-called conveyor belt in many, many years and in a decade or so I guess. I did take a gap year after high school before university, but that was 2000, 2001 so I guess, yeah, 12 years I was on that non-stop conveyor belt, undergraduate university, postgraduate university and then that job, more than seven years in my marketing role at Procter and Gamble.
When you finally get let loose, you want to make the most of that freedom. And it was an incredible time. However, that freedom soon turned to panic as I realised, “Hang on, not only don’t I have an office to go to – which, yes, is very exciting, I could just travel and read and have a wonderful time – I also don’t have a salary coming into my bank account each month,” – which as probably you feel as well, is not the greatest feeling. Yes, the freedom is incredible that you don’t have that office but the lack of salary is often the biggest reason why we don’t quit. And certainly something that hits us eventually.
And so what happens then? Well, I went to a number of interviews for other jobs and I thought, “What if I do something similar – or not similar, but if I take my experience… I’ve been heading up the digital team at Procter and Gamble, so what about being head of digital at…?” And in fact I had an interview at a coffee company, at a chocolate company, at a movie company. That would have been incredible. I know they had a life-size statue of Dobby from Harry Potter at the entrance, and I thought, “This is it! This is my dream job!” And I even had some of those companies on my vision board that I initially created when I was exploring what I wanted to do instead.
However, when I got down to the final two of one of those roles I had that panic set in again. I thought, “Oh my goodness, I do not want this job.” And that was what prompted me then to set up my business, which cost I think it was 11 pounds, 12 pounds on the 11th of February, 2014 with Companies House in the UK. And I really knuckled down: “Okay, I’m going to do this consultancy.” Because when I’d quit I had had that vague thought of wanting to run my own business – I didn’t really know what it entailed but that was it.
I made the decision to quit May, June… Bear with me, but I’m counting very slowly here. July, August, September, October, November, December, Jan, Feb – so eight months. My goodness, eight months from making the decision to quit then a couple of months until I actually left, several months of euphoria, ecstasy, excitement, travel, freedom, a bit of panic, applying to jobs, thinking that was it. And then realising, “No, hang on a second, that’s not what I want to do!” Again, making another big decision, capital B, capital D, and actually creating the business.
Now, the reason why I said I’ve quit twice is because that was fantastic of course. I set up my business. It was so exciting. I started blogging about digital marketing. I updated my LinkedIn and I had another project, which I won’t even bring into the chat here because it just complicates matters. But I was very lucky because I had those digital marketing skills and a great network and the Procter & Gamble name, let’s be honest, to be recommended by former colleagues and brought into different companies. Big-name companies and fantastic roles. And often it was, “Can you come in for a few weeks to fill this gap?” Or “Can you do this little project?” And then once I was there, once I had the foot in the door, they asked me to stay, which of course was fantastic. And in fact, I think almost every role I had, they then asked me to stay permanently, which thank goodness – no offense to them, but that wasn’t what I was there for – I was able to resist that.
During the next two years, I had these great contracts, I really enjoyed it, meeting new colleagues, getting new opportunities, bringing to them my skills and experience and really reapplying those in those different contexts. But more or less I was doing the same work. I was travelling between contracts, which was incredible. I was earning as much if not more as a contractor, freelancer or consultant, whatever you want to call it. And then I was once again pretty much spending it as I travelled. I went that time to Malaysia and I stayed in Marina Bay Sands for a few nights, this incredible hotel with a swimming pool up on the top, gazillionth floor, whatever it is. I travelled all around Malaysia, Singapore, Melbourne. I was back in Sydney as well I think. New Zealand, I went to see my friend to stay on the north island of New Zealand. And so on. I went paddleboarding on the Mississippi. I flew to Hawaii and spent time in San Francisco. I had an incredible time. Once again, I did some pretty amazing things and that was fantastic.
However, I realised, “Hang on a second, this is not what I quit for. This is too similar and I’m still doing the so-called 9 to 5…”
Which wasn’t 9 to 5 – it was overtime generally and it wasn’t quite what I had quit for it. It wasn’t that freedom, flexibility and fulfilment. Then as much as you can quit your own business, I sort of quit that and resolved to say no to all the big contracts and leap into the unknown once again. And then I went through what I’ve called I’m sure before, my hippie phase when I just explored and travelled again and my aunt and I had another few incredible trips. We went to Napa Valley wine tasting and ballooning, hot air ballooning. We flew over the Grand Canyon, went rafting, all sorts of incredible things.
And I discovered coaching – and I don’t exactly know how I came across it. I think I mentioned to my aunt that I was considering it, and we decided it would be a great piece of personal development if nothing else. It wasn’t really that I was considering it necessarily as a business. However, it was a two-year course. I loved it so much I finished it in six months. I was doing the final oral exams at I think 3:00 in the morning or something over in Hawaii and then within six months, I had my business website up. And once again, I had that “Woohoo!” excitement, euphoria, ecstasy. “This is it! I have a business, I’m going to be an incredibly successful coach!” And that was once again that same kind of experience as I’d had when I first quit my job, that “This is going to be amazing! I made the decision, capital T, capital D, I am now a coach and this is going to be it!”
And I did have a few people visiting the website and I even got a handful of clients at the beginning, which of course was very exciting. But then once again, the months passed without much else happening and I soon realised again that I was working through my savings at an alarming rate. I wasn’t really taking it seriously as a business – or at least I thought I was. I was very busy. I was consuming all sorts of free content and signing up to every email newsletter I could find, all around how to build my own email sequences. I need to do webinars. I tried to do some videos, this, that and the other and not really getting a whole lot of results and I hadn’t really stepped up I guess to really look at, okay, these are my goals. This is the time I have, this is how I’m going to go about actually achieving those business goals.
I probably did some fancy strategy work and so on and I thought, “Oh, I have a business!” But as it turns out, a website is not a business. Deciding that I’m a coach does not a coach make. Twice, then, I guess, I naively thought that that decision of quitting was it… And it is a massive decision. It’s an incredibly courageous decision. It’s a big step – but it is only the beginning and there will be so many more brave decisions, as well as so much more hard work if we’re actually going to truly create an alternative life and career outside of the 9 to 5. Just to extrapolate, I guess in those two scenarios… and something that I’ve seen and you may have seen: these fun, little sort of rollercoaster (or maybe not so fun roller coaster!) or mountains and dips and valleys and things, graphics on social media that show the ups and downs of, for example, being an entrepreneur. And there are so many, and I even came up with my own a few years ago, I should definitely get that briefed in to get a design done.
But it’s something like, the initial decision of excitement, euphoria, “Oh my gosh, I’m free. The world is my oyster. I have all these incredible opportunities ahead of me. I could do anything.” And then next phase: fear, panic, possibly applying to random jobs you don’t want, spending a lot of time sort of scattergun approach, I guess. Doing a few things one day and then the next day, something else and then “Oh, I should do this webinar” and “Oh no, that didn’t work.” And “Oh, but I’m doing this and I contacted three people on LinkedIn and they didn’t reply, so now I’m a failure. Maybe I should get that job after all,” and so on. “I think I’ve done the wrong thing.” People around us begin to question us and so on.
And then when you come through that tunnel – and we always say that the breakthrough is often on the other side of one of those really difficult dips. Because if you can be one of the few people who actually continues through, persists through that fear and panic, doesn’t resort to applying to those random jobs, going back to the corporate world and so on, but actually decides, “You know what? I’m going to get down to serious work now. I’m going to take this seriously. I’m going to get the help I need and make this happen.” Then you are in it for the long game, you are going to make it. And that’s something that I realised really.
Most recently – although it was in 2015, so not so recently – after I put up the website… And I did work with a coach, who was sort of my level of coach. She was fantastic on a personal level and we made some big breakthroughs. But it was really when I then stepped up to work with my own business coach, focused on one, I unsubscribed from all the other free stuff that was in my inbox. I really sat down and I said, “Okay, these are my goals.” And I had all these goals and theory in my head, which I hadn’t really committed to, really taken it seriously and really treated my business as I would treat someone else’s business, ironically.
Again, I thought, I guess naively, that just declaring to all that I was a coach was enough, and suddenly I’d be a coach.
But of course, as much as I knew that I had these strengths in me since a long time and I had a lot to give and so on, and I had my personal experience, if nothing else, to share, much more than that is required to actually build a business. And I like to say, and this is a relatively recent realisation, I suppose, that there’s a lot of “me” work, internal work, focusing on ourselves at the beginning of the corporate transition because we need to be selfish. We need to really map out our skills, our strengths, our passions, our desires. What is really important to us? What is it we want to do? What’s the mission? What’s the cause? What’s our bigger purpose? What’s our why? And so on.
However, when we actually turn that into a business, once we’ve made that decision, yes, capital T, capital D again, we need to turn outwards. We need to become externally focused and begin to think about, okay, what does a viable business look like? Who is the client who values my work and can afford me? What prices, packaging? And so on and so on. The decision is fantastic, congratulations if you have made that decision, but it is only the first step.
And so that is what we’re going to be looking at over the next few weeks. As I said, that phase of actually getting down to serious work. Okay, I’ve got the idea, I’ve decided to quit – now what?
And so we’ll be looking at things like how to start an audience from nothing.
That’s coming up in fact next week on Wednesday over in the Facebook group. It’s a free workshop, a one-hour workshop, a One Step Workshop as we call them: How to build an audience from absolutely nothing. So join us over in the One Step Outside Facebook group for that! How to build credibility, authority, how to create content that’s going to bring the right people and convert them. Ultimately how to combine marketing, sales, all these things. How to price and package and so on. These are all really important pieces of the puzzle, but I’m very passionate about where we’re starting next week around how to start an audience from nothing.
A little bit of a different episode this week and maybe a bit of rambling, a bit of a personal story there, but I wanted to share those two versions of quitting that I went through and many of the mistakes that I made as well, and a bit of that roller coaster as well of the excitement, the freedom, the euphoria, followed by fear and panic, followed by, I’m going to do this, persist, push through, and let’s get down to serious work. That’s what we’re going to do, serious work – but don’t worry, we’ll make it fun as well! And I look forward to seeing you here next week.
Thanks so much for listening. Bye for now!
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If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:
Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation
Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall
Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5
Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate