The One Thing You Need to Start Your Own Business

I quit my full-time, permanent job in mid-August to set up my own business. By the time I had my last day at the end of September (after working my notice period), I had been itching to leave for about 6 months. So, needless to say, when the time came that I could actually begin to tell people ‘I’m setting up my own business’, I was raring to go.

I had been sitting on something that I was so passionate about for what felt like forever; I was making plans and scribbling so many notes and ideas that I was filling up notebooks faster than I could buy them. The great part of all this is that I have a really clear vision of where I want my business to go and how I am going to get there. The downside? I have run out of patience.

I should say that I am not the most patient person by nature anyway. During my PhD studies I was constantly thinking about other things: what I wanted to do afterwards, what skills I should be developing, what else could I do to help myself along. I volunteered with a charity, attended courses for skills I don’t even use today, lectured students, published two papers, did public outreach, had my own blog (before this one), got engaged, planned my wedding, got married, moved house 3 times and got a cat, all during the 3.5 years it took me to successfully finish my PhD (my graduation is this Friday!).

This isn’t to brag; in fact, I know some people would look at all the things I devoted energy to during my PhD as a bad thing. They might think that I didn’t really give one thing my all and spread myself too thin over multiple things. What can I say? That’s just me. I overthink, I multitask, I work fast and (if I am to believe the evidence I’ve seen thus far) I work well. But the problem with being this type of person is that I have no patience. I underestimate how long things will take me; I overestimate what I can get done in a day, a week, a year. I am my own worst enemy and my best cheerleader. If this sounds familiar, keep reading.

One of the things I have realised is that when you are setting up your own business (or trying to reach any goal), patience is key. You have to realise from the outset that things take time, otherwise you will probably go insane. I’ve started to think of my business like a garden. Right now, I am planting seeds. All the things I am doing – marketing, writing blog posts, engaging with other people, networking, training – will not bear fruits immediately. But with attention and dedication, my seeds will start to sprout into shoots and my shoots will eventually grow into fruit.

You can do this, too. Try to see every day as a small step towards a bigger goal; every task you complete is you planting a seed. When you feel overwhelmed (because, if you’re anything like me, I am sure you will every now and again), try to break things down. Looking ahead and seeing the ‘big picture’ is great and really necessary, but it can be scary.

Write down what you can get done this week or this month that will go toward the big picture. Break it down into manageable steps. Plants your seeds and give your garden your whole attention: water it, feed it, weed it every now and again. But remember: the best thing you can give it is time.

Do you have any tips for staying patient when you’re trying to reach a goal? Let me know in the comments!

7 of the Cosiest Jumpers to See You Through Winter

Winter is coming…and so you definitely need at least one extremely cosy jumper to throw on when the temperature really starts to drop. Here are 7 of the cosiest jumpers available now.

[top left to right]

Gap Crewneck Pullover Sweater in Cashmere, £119.95. Available here (in lots of colours!).

H&M Conscious* Fine-knit Jumper in Burgundy, £17.99. Available here (also in beige & black).

M&S Animal Print Round Neck Jumper, £35. Available here.

Reformation* Cashmere Crew, £115. Available here.

Next Neutral Pearl Sequin Sweater, £35. Available here.

New Look Cream Button Shoulder Jumper, £24.99. Available here.

Weekday Roll Neck Jumper in Yellow, £45. Available here.

*these brands use sustainable methods/materials for producing clothing, yippee!

What Julie Andrews taught me about confidence

Recently I’ve been making full use of my Spotify daily mixes, one of which features songs from various musicals (it really is the best kind of music). A few weeks ago, I was listening to the playlist on my way to work and one song in particular, which I hadn’t heard in ages, struck a chord with me – ‘I have confidence’, sung by Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music.

The reason this song was probably so spine-tinglingly appropriate for me at this particular point in my life is that I have made some pretty big changes lately. First of all,  I left my job to start my own business  – I keep having to correct myself to say I ‘left’ my job instead of I ‘quit’ my job because the latter conjures up images of a Bridget Jones-style showdown and it definitely wasn’t that dramatic and there definitely wasn’t any Aretha playing in the background as I left. This was a pretty big decision that took almost all of my guts because who leaves a permanent job? It is so difficult to land a job nowadays that when you finally get one you feel as if you should stay no matter what and that if you leave you’re jinxing yourself for all eternity and starting the countdown to the day your naysayers will smugly say ‘told you so’ (I have to admit, I haven’t had any naysayers, or, at least, none that I give two hoots about).

The second big change coming is that I’m fleeing the country: my husband and I are moving to France (where he comes from). Somedays I am so excited for this change, other days I feel like Rachel in Friends when she’s moving to Paris and she says ‘they’re really going to hate me over there’ – how can I make them see that a cup of tea is a staple drink and should not cost more than a glass of wine? Of course the other thing that makes me falter in my/our decision to leave Scotland is that I will also be leaving most of my family. Yes, FaceTime and Skype and WhatsApp all exist and are overused to the point where I probably see more of my friend who lives in Florida than my next door neighbour, but there’s just something so different about knowing that to meet up in person you’ll have to take a plane. Inevitably, the rest of my family will have get togethers when I am not there and I’ll probably have the worst FOMO known to (wo)man and just have to cry into my baguette while I bemoan the fact that nobody gets my jokes because they just don’t work in French.

The point is, I have these two big changes that are happening and while, for the most part, I am so excited and happy that they are happening, I am also, to put it mildly, shit scared. I think that about 70% of the time I function at a confident, ‘what a time to be alive’ sort of headspace; the other 30% is basically internal me screaming into a pillow. There is so much that could go wrong!! But then, there’s so much that could go right.

What does Julie Andrews have to do with all of this? Well, the song in question comes at the part of the film when Julie’s character, Maria, is leaving the convent to go work for the Von Trapp family. She sings “what will this day be like? I wonder. What will my future be? I wonder. It could be so exciting, to be out in the world, to be free….now here I am facing adventure. Then why am I so scared?”  It perfectly sums up the weird mixture of excited and nervous that you get whenever you make a big decision in your life, sort of like you want to run around joyfully laughing and be sick all at the same time.

We all go through this, whether we are deciding to leave our job, move country, change career, get a fringe, get married, have a baby, speak in public…we need to remember why we want to do something, listen to your excited self, instead of getting caught up in the reasons why not to do something. As much as I hate this term, sometimes it needs to be said: YOLO. Yes, we only live once (so, really it should be WOLO) and we need to face our fears and chase our dreams instead of being scared.

We need to listen to Julie Andrews:

“With each step I am more certain, everything will turn out fine. I have confidence the world can all be mine! They’ll have to agree, I have confidence in me”.

Listen to Julie! Go face your fears and I promise everything will be fine. (And if you haven’t watched the Sound of Music in a while, or ever, watch it! But be warned that it’s like 3 hours long. Maybe just listen to the soundtrack instead.)