November 7th 2017 is my first Business Birthday. Quite an achievement for a self-confessed introvert with a dislike for blowing her own trumpet and little experience of running a business – but guess what? I did it!

In October 2016 I was given notice that my role as Project Co-ordinator was at risk of redundancy. It wasn’t a surprise. There had been signs that things were changing. I had also been thinking about setting up my own business part-time, but I lacked the courage to go down the route of uncertain-income. And then I was called into this meeting, accepted the news in a calm manner, collected my things and silently went home to start my garden leave.As someone who thrives on order, process and (dare I say) control, this wasn’t an easy few weeks. I made plans while I went through the redundancy consultation process, and even though I knew 100% that I wanted to set up my own business I was still an emotional wreck when the final blow was given.

In retrospect, I wasn’t scared or worried about what was to come – I was grieving what was left behind. I was worried about losing that feeling of being part of a team, of losing friends and connections to strike out alone
In those early weeks, I hadn’t got into my freelance groove. The days seemed to revolve around a lot of ‘setting up’ and not actually much ‘doing’. I was living off my redundancy payment as I had no income to speak of. Slowly, I started to make progress with contacts but I didn’t feel like I ran my own business. And although I was always thinking about the future, I wasn’t directed fully towards it. Thankfully, I signed some great clients towards the end of 2016 and in early 2017, and I was finally up and running.
But there is a whole different mentality to running a business than that of an employee. The buck stops with you. That kind of responsibility isn’t for everyone. Thankfully, I’ve met some great business owners during this last year, and have been able to draw on many of these for various types of support when needed. And that thing that I mourned when I lost my job? That feeling of being part of a team? I may be a sole trader, but I am far from alone.
If I need advice, I can consult with more experienced VA friends, more experienced business owners and a whole network of experts. I am part of a networking group that not only offers training, coaching and practical services but social gatherings……. even a Christmas get-together. I’ve learnt so much from so many people and received so much direction, positivity and inspiration. I am humbled by the open and honest way fellow business owners selflessly help each other, and I no longer mourn being part of an employed team. I’ve found something much more wholesome.

On top of this, helping my clients to serve their clients each day gives me a satisfaction that is unrivalled in any of my employed roles. Each day brings new challenges and new successes, each met with a passion to help my clients achieve progress in THEIR businesses as well. It has taken this whole year to get to a point where I feel that I run my business (rather than my business running me) and to be looking forward, making goals and action plans. This business birthday gives me the perfect opportunity to reflect on the last 12 months and how I have grown – not just as a business owner, but as a person.
Change is scary. It’s easy and safe to stick with what you know and many of us go through life settling for what is easiest and safest. Sometimes we don’t get a choice and the change is thrust upon us. Others bravely choose to make the change for themselves. But whatever the catalyst, don’t spend too long looking back as you never know what the future holds for you.