Five helpful things I have learnt in five years

I am just into the start of the sixth year of my business and have taken some time to reflect. I have learnt masses. Here are five of the things that really matter.

1. There is a big difference between being able to do something and loving doing it

This is the distinction between using our energising strengths and using some of our skills which can drain us. We are all vaguely aware of activities we avoid doing or things we are drawn to and known for, but this comes into clearer focus when we learn about our strengths. Becoming a Strengths Profile practitioner a few years ago was a game changer for me both personally and for my clients. We can all tailor our approach, or even shape our career path, to play to our strengths.

2. Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean it’s good for you

In 2016 I walked away from the world of Executive Search after eleven years. A shock to some, perhaps less so to those who were close to me. There were elements of it that I enjoyed and was good at. Other parts took their toll and I was struggling with the ‘juggle’ of being a new parent. I could no longer be there for my candidates and clients whenever I wanted to be and I found that hard. I felt less resilient than before. Today I am much more in tune with what is best for me and put self-care much higher up the list. I also champion this with others and help them to be brave enough to walk away.

3. There is so much more to running a business than doing your core activity

I am a coach, but I do so much more than coaching, and I love it. I draw on the support of some wonderful freelancers with areas like diary management, website maintenance, video editing and social media. I also do a bit of everything myself – marketing, invoicing, writing, programme design, especially my favourite bit – keeping in touch with my network. I also do a range of pro-bono work like Mentoring through Protégé. This year I have started doing more group sessions and speaking engagements. The variety is wonderful and ever-evolving. I am currently working on a website update before I start taking on new clients in September.

4. You need to be firm with your boundaries if you are serious about protecting your time and energy

When you no longer get paid a corporate salary it puts is a big spotlight on how you spend your time. It has to be a considered decision to take on activities which aren’t revenue generating. There will always be people who want something for nothing and it’s OK to say no. In fact at times, it is highly satisfying and definitely one of the perks of having your own business. Re: point 2 I also diarise more activities for myself without guilt. I never felt able to do that while working in an employed role but with hindsight think I should have tried harder.

5. I have linked my self-worth to my work performance for many years and it is not helpful. I am aware of this now, and it is a work in progress, always

This was especially visible during my days as a fee earning recruiter, and that culture had seeped deep into me and when I started running my business my natural tendency was always to focus on my revenue each month and think about ways to bill more. I had an ‘aha’ moment a while ago when I asked myself ‘why am I doing this?’. I have since introduced a range of performance indicators for myself that are about more than just revenue. It’s important to me to be successful, but I realised that it isn’t just about money billed, it is also about positive feedback from my clients, recommendations, making a difference and giving back. This summer is a good test for me. I have recently relocated back to London from Singapore and have made a conscious decision to work only with existing clients and not take on new ones during August. It doesn’t come naturally, but I am taking time for other important things in life!

To learn more about working with me visit: I will be taking on new clients from September.

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