How to be your own boss and take the plunge

Self-employment has boomed in recent years; it’s no easy option but deserves careful consideration to ensure it’s the right choice for you if you’re thinking you want to be your own boss. Self-employment offers a route to independence, enables you to take charge of your own destiny while you pursue a meaningful career path. Want to be your own boss? We outline key considerations as well as how to take the plunge.

Be your own boss: The basics

As of April 2022, there were around 4.21 million self-employed workers in the United Kingdom. The largest percentage of those are between 45 and 54 years of age, with the 35-44 age group representing the second largest group.

For some, it is a lifestyle choice achievable by:

  • setting up a business, either on a full-time basis or alongside a part-time job;
  • working as a freelancer or contractor;
  • buying into a franchise.

There’s a high level of commitment involved in starting a business, so you need to take a careful and realistic look at yourself to see if you are ready for such a challenge. Auditing your skills and personality and building a support team of family, friends and advisers is as important as your idea and motivation.

Important things to consider before taking the plunge to be your own boss

In traditional employment it is usual to work on a predetermined range of tasks and projects. As an entrepreneur, all the work falls to you. Do you know what tasks you will need extra support with? Can you handle the finance, accounting, IT issues and all the related administration?

You will probably have to work long hours with limited financial rewards, at least at first. There may be times when you doubt yourself and the wisdom of embarking on this venture. A support system helps you through tough times and may be a big factor in your success.

You need to be someone who can meet and deal positively with challenges. With plenty of confidence in yourself, and the energy and mental toughness to get to cope with difficult times, which you will inevitably face.

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Some drawbacks

Most people go out to work because they like meeting people; when you work for yourself, until you are successful enough to start taking on staff, you have to do the scut-work as well as the executive decision-making and all without the water-cooler moments. If you need regular feedback and validation, if you find it hard to motivate yourself, self-employment may not be your best option.

Be aware, it’s hard work when you end up doing the VAT at the weekend – it’s this sort of thing that can drive people back to traditional employment. It can take 18 months or more to establish yourself, and a large percentage of small businesses fail in those first months. All the decisions and responsibility will fall on you; you will have to sort out all the mistakes and problems.

The most cited drawbacks are social isolation and insecurity and those who give up self-employment so, by and large, for these reasons:

  • Insecurity and unpredictability of income;
  • Missing the sense of identity that a role in a corporation provides;
  • Lack of the social camaraderie that an organisational role provides, this is very significant for many people.

Plan and prepare

If running your own business is a serious ambition, start planning as far ahead as you can. Work on developing skills which are relevant to self-employment and focus on building the skills, experience and contacts you will need. You will have to rely on your own entrepreneurial energy to win work and to establish new income streams, while building your value proposition.

If self-employment is a potential option then you should consider:

  • personal and financial assets and liabilities;
  • lifestyle aspirations;
  • support systems and commitments.

Do a risk assessment, it takes commitment to succeed. People who are self-aware and know when they need to call on others for help, support and guidance are most likely to succeed as entrepreneurs.

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Be your own boss: Taking the plunge!

Think of the many benefits of self-employment – as your own boss, you work when and where you want to work, and you work for those you want to work with control of your time, energy and life.

If you can identify your USP, are professional and resilient, and confident with the skills to build your client base, perhaps it’s time to think about registering with HMRC as self-employed. You’ll need a business bank account and insurance. You’ll have to decide on a company structure, acquire accounting software and design a marketing strategy.

Launching a business may be a good career move. It’s not without its challenges, but if you reflect on your needs and work preferences, research your options and assess the challenges and benefits of setting up your own venture, you’ll be well equipped to make an informed decision about being your own boss.

Liz Sebag-Montefiore is the Co-founder and Director of 10Eighty,  helping individuals and organisations to maximise their potential.  To excel your career., improve performance and give a sense of focus in terms of career direction why not get a coach? Find one here.

I hate my job: 6 signs you are having a mid-career crisis (and what to do next)

Have the thoughts “I hate my job” crossed your mind recently? If our jobs are great and we love them (no matter how banal they might seem to others), then we feel good about ourselves. There will probably come a point where we look at what we have achieved so far and reckon up accomplishments and setbacks, and consider planning the next stage of working life – stick or change.

If we feel that progress has stalled, whether disenchanted, frustrated or just bored, there are remedies; a mid-career crisis is a chance to reflect and review what has gone well and what can be done to build for the future.

It is not the responsibility of the organisation to manage the careers of employees, though good employers have career and talent management policies and programmes. They may be good at engaging and developing employees, but career planning is a personal responsibility. It is probably time for a re-think if:

  1. Your job lacks challenge, appeal and fun
  2. Promotion or development opportunities are limited
  3. You’re not learning anything new, it’s all routine
  4. You feel your talent and skill is being wasted
  5. You are stressed and/or feel unappreciated, unengaged, disconnected and undervalued
  6. It’s no longer fun

The career MOT

Reaching a career ceiling doesn’t mean a lack of drive and tenacity to rise further. But there may come a point where fresh challenges appeal. Keeping a career afloat may feel like navigating hazardous and murky waters, especially during mergers and acquisitions, downsizing, ‘right sizing,’ and ‘offshoring’.

A career MOT will afford you some time for reflection before making an action plan. Focus and reflect, nothing is set in stone; the career plan envisaged when you were 23 may no longer be relevant now – that’s fine, just start over.

What if your career is broken? What if you are totally in the wrong space – is there anything you can do? Go back to fundamentals. What do you like doing? Think about your achievements to date and think big, don’t be modest. Life is full achievements – big and small, they all count.

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Build and grow

Career management rests on identification of your values, interests and skills and then building on those and investing time and effort in a chosen career path. Aim to build and grow, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that years of experience are what counts. If you are not fully invested in career development, there’s danger of ending up with 10 years of experience that is, effectively, one year of experience replicated 10 times.

Survival is about ensuring you appeal to employers over the long run. Ensure you have portable skills that will carry you through your short-term career goals and enable momentum towards a long-term plan. Build a portfolio of roles and interests and commitments that will constitute a real investment in a career path that provides fulfilment.

It’s sensible to plan ahead, managing your career by choosing roles with a range of employers that will increase your employability and transferable skills that so when you are looking to make a move, you are able to make sustainable and fulfilling choices.

Making change happen

Whether it is a mid-career crisis or a nagging sense of disenchantment, you can make a change if you are no longer fulfilled in your job. Life is too short to stay in a job you dislike or that makes you unhappy.

Prepare – ask yourself some searching questions. Think about what you would really love to do, how you want to spend your life, what matters to you and ask yourself what your dream job would look like.

Research – spend time reading and study your area/(s) of interest. Seek mentors and those working in your profession or field of interest to advise you.

Plan – review and evaluate the realistic options, devise a plan whether that is for a new job, a promotion, a new direction or starting your own business. Portfolio workers and entrepreneurs sometimes began their new careers in their 60s or older.

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Redesign your career – rather than a completely new career path, you may be able to make changes to your current role – look around to see where you might fit and achieve your objectives, at least in the short-term. Use your current job to accrue the necessary skills, contacts, leads and opportunities that will help you.

Be positive – it is never too late, you are never too stuck to make a change. Focus on your skills and experience and on making that move forward. Finally, success in any career requires one to be flexible, open-minded, versatile and resilient; and an inclination to engage in lifelong learning is increasingly important for the ambitious.

Have the thoughts I hate my job crossed your mind lately? If so, it might be time for a career change….

Liz Sebag-Montefiore is the Co-founder and Director of 10Eighty,  helping individuals and organisations to maximise their potential.  To excel your career., improve performance and give a sense of focus in terms of career direction why not get a coach? Find one here.

Digital people photo created by ijeab, Women work photo created by ViDIstudio

Feeling dissatisified with work? 5 important questions to ask yourself about your next career step

If you’re noticing you’re feeling dissatisfied with work or experiencing a lack of direction, what’s the best approach to getting back on track? I believe it’s important for everyone to enjoy their job, and to find meaning and fulfilment in their career.

If you’re feeling dissatisfied with work, ask yourself some questions:

  • Are you happy with the direction of your work and career?
  • Are you really doing what you want to do and going in your planned direction?
  • Do you feel in control of your growth, development, and future?
  • Are you where you want to be?
  • Have you accomplished all you thought you would by now?

It’s a sort of career MOT; the process allows you to evaluate your career direction and strategy.

Guidance and challenge for when you’re feeling dissatisfied with work

Bill Gates says: “Everyone needs a coach. We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

Lots of very effective managers have coaches, however well you are performing you probably aspire to do even better. Coaching is about objective challenge and providing a sounding board to enable an employee to push themselves. It is about enabling you to become even better at what you do, affording the space and time to think, about pushing to be more.

We use a coaching app 10eighty.co.uk that allows clients and coaches to make contact and contract with each other. Then they can work, communicate and meet, sync calendars, share information and resources, and have access to training courses, podcasts and discussion forums.

The personal touch

Online coaching is facilitated by technology, but the personal touch still matters and it’s good to have the choice of online or face to face. For a busy manager, it’s a bonus to be able to access resources at a time that suits them and to be able to organise interactions online.

Unlike training, coaching is predicated on continuous learning and developing capability to build confidence and skills while anticipating challenges and maximizing potential and opportunities. Research by the ILM has found that amongst those who have received coaching, improved confidence, performance, and productivity are cited as three of the most positive changes witnessed for themselves, others and their wider team or organisation.

An experienced coach will challenge and support you to develop greater self-awareness while encouraging you to put yourself outside your comfort zone to learn how to raise performance at work and help tap into your full potential.

Be your best self

Chart a career path for yourself – where do you want to be next year, in five years, what will success look like? Commit to a professional development plan and take ownership of your career capital and stated long-term development objectives.

I favour a strengths-based coaching approach with a focus on building and using innate strengths to perform better and be energised by work, to sustain high performance, and increase confidence and engagement at work.

Motivated employees actively want opportunities to learn and grow, seek out different experiences, try new things, new projects and perspectives; and this diversity of experience is really important to employers now; they need employees with learning agility who proactively seek to learn and grow as human beings in order to do their best work.

Moving forward

A technique I sometimes use with coaching clients is to ask them to think of two things:

  • What did you enjoy doing when you were a child – before life got in the way? Can you use these memories to help find your true passion?
  • Try a new perspective and think about being very old – what might you wish you had spent your life doing?

Next identify the goals that will enable you to follow the career path you have chosen. That enables you to seek out training, stretch assignments, secondments, and coaching etc. that will afford you the experience to expand your skillset and develop towards the roles and career you want. Use a skills-based development approach to create a dynamic action plan.

Own your career – build on strengths, embrace new experiences, and keep skills fresh and up to date so you can be future-focused. We can’t exactly predict the skills that will be needed in five or ten years, so flexibility, versatility and adaptability are increasingly important, and employees need to respond to organisational change and be ready and willing to learn and acquire new skills and experiences.

Future proof your career

The world of work has changed and whatever your role, there is no guarantee of a job for life. You can’t even be sure that the job you take at the start of your career will still exist when you reach retirement age. To succeed in a dynamic environment, you must develop the skills and behaviours that will enable you to manage your career path effectively and confidently.

To be able to bring the best of yourself to work, you must be able to express creativity while being accountable for decision-making and productivity. I encourage everyone to invest in their employability not just for the current job but for the inevitable change ahead.

Research shows that 81% of employees feel that they don’t make full use of their talents at work. It’s important to seek roles that allow you to explore new avenues, to broaden your perspective and to engage with fresh challenges. Then you will be ready for the next challenge.

If you’re feeling dissatisfied with work, we hope the above inspires you to look at how you can make change.

Liz Sebag-Montefiore is the Co-founder and Director of 10Eighty,  helping individuals and organisations to maximise their potential.  To excel your career., improve performance and give a sense of focus in terms of career direction why not get a coach? Find one here.

Image by rawpixel.com

Got Imposter Syndrome? Here’s why Imposter Syndrome is hitting us hard!

The other day I was talking to a good friend about what bothered her most about being in her 40s now. I was met with two words that used to be my own nemesis: Imposter Syndrome. You will either know very well what these two words mean having struggled with it yourself, or will be thinking Lord woman what on earth are you on about!

In case you fall into the latter, let me break it down for you. Very Well Mind has the perfect explanation of Imposter Syndrome, and it goes something like this:

Imposter syndrome (IS) refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. While this definition is usually narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context.

To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a phony—you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud—like you don’t belong where you are, and you only got there through dumb luck. It can affect anyone no matter their social status, work background, skill level, or degree of expertise.

So how many of you now know what I’m talking about? Well, probably 6 in 10 of you, seeing as that’s how many women experience imposter syndrome at some stage of their lives. For years, I found myself looking over my shoulder, feeling like I was spinning the world’s greatest lie like I was going to be caught. I skulked around with this nagging feeling that I was not really who I said I was, or doing what I said I was. Even as I write those words, I realise just how completely bonkers that sounds, like I have a major personality disorder of some kind. Even after my career had taken me on TV and radio numerous times over, I had this horrid little voice in my head whispering at me, “you’re a fake!”. The thought alone makes me shudder!

So why is it so many of us women feel like a fraud and that we’ve somehow oversold ourselves when the reality is we’re shit hot and have totally earned it? And why can’t we stop comparing ourselves to others, constantly beating ourselves over the head with other people’s successes when we should in fact be celebrating our own? And more poignantly, why can all of this feel so much worse in our 40s when we should instead be reveling in the so-called confidence we should be enjoying in life and our careers by now?

Hold the phone caller! Because in this deep dive on Imposter Syndrome, we’ve lined up some of the most well-versed professionals on Imposter Syndrome to help us understand why we’ve fallen under the IS spell and how we can break it.

imposter syndrome

How do you know you have imposter syndrome?

Faye Cox, Mindset & Confidence Coach believes women in their 40’s are still experiencing Imposter Syndrome despite their success, as the sheer act of comparing ourselves to others tends to arise when we step out of our comfort zone.

The more successful we become the more we step into unknown territory which is where we feel uncomfortable and our self-doubt kicks in. Each time we do this, we have to re-adjust and use the techniques we’ve learnt to overcome it. More on that down below!

So is imposter syndrome just a female thing?

According to Intuitive Business Coach Sam Evans, it’s present in everyone, but women tend to suffer more, due to the emotional connection of their goals and dreams and the difference in upbringing between men and women.   

With the increase of female entrepreneurs online, it can be difficult to believe in yourself when you are constantly comparing yourself to other women causing disbelief that anything is possible for you.

Imposter Syndrome attacks the human psyche based on the programming of the subconscious mind which is where all your beliefs, and memories are stored.  Somewhere in your lifetime, you experienced a significant event that caused you to feel the way that you do which in affect triggers the feelings of inadequacy.

Does imposter syndrome becomes worse in your 40s? 

Unfortunately, Sarah Pittendrigh, Breakthrough Coach believes that Imposter syndrome can strike at any age, it can become particularly prevalent among women over forty. For many years, a woman’s focus has been on everyone and everything else; she’s the strong woman, the glue that keeps it all together and makes sure everyone else’s life is running smoothly. She supports her partner, she brings up her family, she nurtures her business – the focus is on everyone but her.

However, in her forties, a number of things can knock her off-kilter. Her children are growing up and she doesn’t need to be so hands-on. Her relationship with her partner may have changed over the years, whilst their energy shifted to their joint responsibilities and it can be challenging to bring the focus back to just the two of them.

When the time comes to refocus on your future, you can feel lost and lose sight of your direction and of your goals. The goals you had in your twenties may feel like a distant memory. It is when you lose this purpose and sense of self that Imposter Syndrome can set in.

This is echoed by Monika Mateja of Live Well Coaching who points to the fact that all of the above adds to insecurities and contributes to second-guessing ourselves. We doubt our abilities even if we have a successful career because there is so much going on in our life. In particular, in our 40s we begin to experience more health issues including unexplained weight gain and brain fog that can make us feel like we failed ourselves and this can contribute to low self-esteem and feeling like a fraud.

Does this sound familiar?

Jo Swann, a successful Director at a PR firm knows first hand that the Imposter Syndrom struggle is real, “As an ambitious high achiever I set up my business in my 20s and was full steam ahead, and built a successful business for 10 years working with large brands like banks and building societies and brands like Whistles and Yo! Sushi. No imposter syndrome there!

But then I had some personal circumstances that made me wake up and realise – just as I turned 40 that I wanted to change track. Practically burnt out with a young son I decided I wanted to use my skill in another way and put the soul back into my PR work – so I started to work with female entrepreneurs with a new business  – helping them use the power of PR to get their stories out there. Working locally I LOVED this but then came the introduction to the online world.

Oh my God – I freaked out and this is when my imposter syndrome hit. It was full of glamorous women rocking the online space, who looked so comfortable chatting on video, sharing their lives and successes (and I couldn’t even take a selfie). I was overwhelmed and didn’t see where I fit in despite having nearly 20 years PR experience and being networked to some of the most successful online entrepreneurs of the time, who readily accepted me into their circles.

It’s taken me two, nearly three years to find my true guts again and retrieve that ballsy 20-year-old as this new world spawned limiting beliefs, lack of self-worth and huge comparison-itus. This led to me playing small, undercharging and over-delivering until I finally took the bull by the horns, to tackle my blocks head-on and with the help of a fabulous coach I came out the other side. I now love helping other women fight the battle too, helping them use PR and the confidence it brings to fight their imposter off!”

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Some tips for overcoming imposter syndrome…

So you’ve got Imposter Syndrome and it’s eating away at you one bitter little bite at a time. What to do? Follow these tips from Joanna Howes, Leadership and Performance Coach.

Women in their 40s still experience Imposter Syndrome as the inner work hasn’t been done to find out the reason why they have it in the first place.  Imposter syndrome doesn’t stop you from being successful, for some, it is actually a driver to prove themselves.  It can however stop you from owning, celebrating and being proud of what you have achieved, as you do not connect your success with how great you are. You do not stand in your true power and you can find yourself hiding from what you could be.

My top tips for overcoming Imposter Syndrome:

  1. You need to look inside yourself to get to know who you are. We are all born with self-leadership yet along the way, through school, parents, and friends we adopt roles to survive, to fit in and belong and these roles can squash our true self. When you find out which roles you’ve adopted you can then work to be back in charge of them, instead of them being in charge of you.
  2. Notice whether the thoughts you have about yourself are beliefs that are limiting you.  If you say ‘I’m not good enough’ is there any evidence to support this or is it a belief you have created or a story you have been telling yourself?
  3. Start affirmations in the morning. It took me a while to believe these affirmations work, and I can tell you after doing them myself they really do.  Look in the mirror and say ‘I am enough’, ‘I am worthy’ and ‘I belong’, and ‘I can handle whatever comes my way’. You can write your own but if you need something to get started with, these are powerful ones to use.

Are you currently struggling with Imposter Syndrome? Or perhaps you have beaten and moved on from crushing self-doubt and feeling like a fraud? Leave a comment below and follow us on Instagram here where we’ll be keeping the conversation going.

Picture credits:  Antonio DillardOlya KobrusevaAndrea Piacquadio, Thought Catalog  from Pexels