Leaving the rat race

After a lot of soul searching our new blogger, Neil, made the leap from full time employment to self employment in order to gain a bit of work life balance. He shares his tips here.


The date: June 2016

The place: HSBC, somewhere in London

The realisation: I need a new job to get the mortgage I want

Easy, eh? Well no, not really, when you have a 45-minute commute (which isn’t bad for London) to a comfortable job of 16 years where you’re the sales manager of a successful sales team. Especially when you have a two year old at home and you like that you can have two hours’ “play time” with her after a 4:30pm finish at work. Oh, and you only work four days per week and use the fifth to have valuable family time with the occasionally bit of consulting on the side. How could I find a job that gave me all that and a good salary?

It was an easy life and the realisation that it couldn’t continue was hard to process. This was an even bigger hurdle when I started looking for a new job. There was a good selection of jobs which I could have done

So, after a lot of soul-searching and discussion with my wife, I made the leap to full-time self-employment, finally making a “business” out of the consulting company I’d set up six years earlier but never really embraced.

Lessons learnt

Looking back on 2017, it’s been an amazing first year, but also a year which can’t be allowed to repeat itself – it’s been physically draining, a little disorganised, and far more pressurised than I’d imagined. I’ve learnt many lessons along the way – both good and bad – and I enter 2018 with big ideas to take the business to the next level.

This is the first in a series of articles in which I’ll share with you some of the key lessons, how to avoid some of the more serious pitfalls and how to approach the various areas of running a business:

– Setting things up

– Finance

– Launching a website

– Promotion and marketing

– Sales

– Motivation

– Work-work balance

As we go through, I’ll share real-life stories, resources and links I’ve found helpful and tips from the “real world” of how to sell yourself and your products or services. I run a sales consultancy, so I’ll be sharing communication techniques to help those with a non-sales background to feel comfortable selling over the phone and in person and getting buy-in to ideas from others.

I’m nearly out of time for this first instalment, but let me use this to point out that self-employment isn’t for the faint-hearted. There are some important questions you need to ask yourself and your partner:

  • Do I want to be self-employed?
  • Can I handle working alone for much of the time?
  • If not, how can I substitute the interaction I’m used to from my colleagues?
  • Are my finances in order?
  • Can I afford it if this doesn’t work out?
  • Have I got any opportunities already, or can I get some, in order to achieve a quick win?
  • Do I have the expertise I need, or could I acquire it?
  • Does the world want what I can provide?

For me, looking back, these are the key questions I should have been able to answer. I couldn’t answer all of them, but I’ve addressed the gaps as I’ve gone along.

I feel it’s only right to provide a disclaimer here… Neither I, Navanter Ltd (my company), nor workingmums.co.uk is advising you to become self employed. I’m sharing my experience to help you make the decision, but the only person who can make that decision is you.

That said, I hope you enjoy this series and find the content valuable.

*Neil Shorney, Principal Training Consultant, Navanter Ltd.

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