Being self-employed and a carer: a personal story

Coach Suzanne Bourne talks about her experience of being self employed and a carer in the last of her series for Carers Week.



Returning to work after maternity leave I realised a traditional full-time job was not going to be an easy option and wanted to create as many options for myself as possible. Once the children were a little older and I felt I had more capacity, I focused more on my personal and professional development and set up as a freelance trainer. I took on small training and development contracts and was able to find work that I could do, mostly in hours to suit me,
from or near home.

Eventually I left my part-time job (it helped that I was made redundant!). I also discovered that the volunteering I had done whilst on maternity leave had taught me valuable skills and given me a different kind of confidence. So I looked for new ways to volunteer that would also be good learning opportunities. It turns out my natural training style was actually more “workshop facilitator”. After a bit of training I created opportunities to practise facilitating focus groups, workshops, team building and meetings with local charities and businesses.

A portfolio career

A short-term contract with a charity eventually turned into a part-time, permanent role and I could do meaningful work, run a business, care for my husband, be a mum, volunteer and even squeeze in some learning. I recently found the phrase “portfolio career” and owned it!

I’m no super woman though, none of this is done perfectly and all of it is done with support from others.

A new focus for my business

I took the opportunity to train as a coach, completing a Professional Coaching Certificate with Coaching Development. Suzanne Bourne Coaching was born and I gave myself a couple of years to gain a broad experience of coaching. Working part time allowed me to gradually build up my coaching practice and to think about what would be the focus for my business.

I had a vision for how coaching and facilitation could be used to support unpaid carers in all sorts of circumstances. I’d run groups for carers and already had a couple of coaching clients who were clients. I knew first hand what a difference coaching could make.

Ride the wave

My part-time job grew and my caring responsibilities meant I couldn’t always focus on my own business as much as I wanted to.  I needed to be patient and, to be honest, I needed to put in some research. Then unexpectedly I was made redundant from my dream part-time job. That was really tough, but, of course, there was a silver lining. This gave me the time and space I needed to build some momentum around my vision.

So now I’m combining my life experience, my gifts and my passions as a carers coach and facilitator. I’m still juggling things, but I’ve learnt that opportunities come in waves. My husband is pretty well at the moment, my children are becoming more independent and now feels like my time to ride that wave.

Share your story

As a coach I love to hear people’s stories, do get in touch and tell me about your experience of working and caring. Are you riding a wave, waiting for the tide to turn or crashing into shore ready for a break?

*Suzanne Bourne is a coach and facilitator at who specialises in coaching for carers. You can contact her at [email protected].

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