I now realise that when I started my first business I did it for all the wrong reasons. I started it out of fear…
I’d been doing a job I loved, partly because I’d been given free rein to develop it. It played to all my strengths, allowing me to think big, use my creativity and introduce new ideas to the business.
And then I got a new line manager.
Whereas my previous managers had supported me and encouraged me to run with my ideas, my new manager didn’t get what I was doing and seemed to see me as a threat. He would put obstacles in my way, exclude me from things I should have been involved with, and made me feel isolated from the rest of the team.
I kept things tight to my chest, trying to manage it myself and find a way around the situation. I thought I was being strong by coping with it on my own. But I wasn’t…
Gradually the stress of the situation started to affect both my mental and physical health. I became more and more withdrawn, especially from my immediate team, and that affected my relationships with them even more.
And then something inside me snapped and I had a nervous breakdown.
My whole world imploded. I could barely get out of bed in the morning. I lost all my confidence, no longer able to do things you take for granted like drive or go shopping by myself.
The thought of going back to work filled me with dread, but then what I thought was the ideal solution presented itself, a round of Voluntary Early Severance was announced and I jumped at it.
At an all-time low, I decided that the best solution for me was to set up my own business because that way I thought I wouldn’t end up in a similar situation again.
I decided to buy a franchise thinking I would be getting a tried and tested business model with the support and guidance to help me get set up. But in my desperation, I failed to listen to the alarm bells ringing in my head.
Although the business concept was a great idea, the franchise I bought into didn’t meet any of my expectations, and when I started to experience issues with quality, the restrictions of being part of a franchise left me with no option but to cut my losses.
The real problem though was I’d thought I was solving my problems and taking back control of my life by starting a business, when in fact what I was really doing was running away from them.
Instead of standing up for myself and what I believed was right, I buried my head in the sand and hoped it would all just go away. I had become sucked into playing the victim and had allowed what had happened to take over my life.
Long after the other people involved had forgotten the whole episode, here I was still hiding and playing small, afraid that if I put myself out there again I would be attacked in some way.
I went back into corporate for a brief spell but having done my own thing once, I realised that I actually enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of having my own business, and how it allowed me to utilise all my strengths and not just some, and so I decided to try again doing something else.
But I still struggled…
The truth was that, yes there was a lot I still needed to learn about running a business, some new and some adapting the skills, knowledge and experience I’d gained in corporate. But the biggest thing holding me back was still ME!
I would lurk in Facebook groups rather than engaging, post content sporadically, avoid posting pictures of myself or sharing any personal information, and tried to work everything out for myself rather than asking for the advice and support I desperately needed.
I was too embarrassed to open up to people and tell them my story, not only because I was worried about being ‘attacked’, but because I was worried about being judged.
As I watched those who had started around the same time as me gathering momentum and starting to grow their businesses, I realised that I needed to go all in or give up and find a job. And I realised that the most important thing I needed to work on was rebuilding my confidence and reprogramming my belief system.
It took me years of self-discovery, of digging deep and confronting uncomfortable memories before I finally began to regain my confidence and step out from the shadows again. And it was only then that things started to change…
Ever since I’d left corporate the first time I had this desire to help other women who were going through similar experiences, who were feeling unappreciated, undervalued or undermined in their job, or because of a change in circumstances, had realised that a corporate career was no longer the right option for them. But at the time didn’t have the confidence to go down that route. Even once I finally admitted that coaching would really play to all my strengths, I still shied away from focusing on those I really wanted to help.
I tiptoed around who my ideal client was, changing it several times, and fell into the trap I’ve steered many a client away from, by resisting niching my business down too much.
But a couple of opportune conversations was all it needed to turn everything around.
All of a sudden, I realised that sharing my story and experiences could actually help others who were feeling constrained and frustrated by the corporate world. It could help them realise they are not alone in their struggles, and that there are options available to them.
In a moment of clarity everything started to click into place and I felt like a huge weight had lifted off my shoulders.
What I knew all along, but had been ignoring myself, is that showing the world who you really are helps those customers that resonate with your story, values, mission or personality to build the know, like, trust factor which will ultimately turn them into paying customers.
But learning to stand in your power, own your story and share it with the world will not only help attract your customers to you, it can also be liberating.
And for me…learning to do just that has led me full circle. It has been a long, and at times, extremely difficult journey. But along the way it has equipped me with all the skills, knowledge and experience I need to help women like me make the journey I’ve made.
If you’re feeling stifled in your job and you’re not fulfilling your potential, book your free discovery call here and we can discuss how you can break free from the constraints you’ve been facing by creating a business that leverages your talents and allows you to make the impact you know you’re capable of.