Taking the leap
My journey into self-employment and finding me amongst the madness.
I loved my job. Honestly, I went to work looking forward to my day. The team I worked with was amazing and the students were equally as amazing. So why, 9 years on, am I not still working in the job I loved? Well, put quite simply, I found out I was pregnant!
At 23 I had a little surprise that changed my world. I found out I was pregnant and all of a sudden everything changed. My body didn't really like pregnancy, and my love of working soon became an essential task that was more and more difficult as my pregnancy developed. So when I had my beautiful baby boy, I was nervously looking forward to going back to work. After taking maternity leave I returned to work, but my time back in the job I had once loved so much was to be short. Like many mums, my passion for my career had changed and time at work became time I resented as being away from my son. When you add that to the fact that my wages were less than my childcare costs, it soon became a no-brainer. I made the decision to take a career break with my boy and pause for the first time EVER in my life. I'd always studied or worked, so not having a 9-5 was strange, although completely necessary for me, my son and my mental health as a new mum.
I loved every single second of being a full-time mum, and was hugely grateful to my husband for moving jobs so that he could earn a little more so that we could afford for me to be out of work. Having said that, money was tight and we were literally living hand-to-mouth for the first few years of my son's life.
When nursery years came about my son benefited from time away from me, and I had naturally reached a time when I wanted to get "me" back. Being a mum had been my whole identity for 3 years and I had lost more of my identity than I realised. And so I started to volunteer for a local parent's group, organising meet-ups for new parents in the local area. I developed some amazing connections with local businesses, which led to me working ad-hoc for small business owners helping with their social media and admin. Not only did I love this, but it really utilised the years of hard work I had put into qualifying with my Business Management and Marketing Degree with the Open University; studying part-time alongside my job and throughout my pregnancy,
As I honed my skills and developed my experience whilst my son attended nursery, primary school was fast approaching, and our personal financial situation was becoming rather dire. I could no longer volunteer or work a minimal hour week, and with primary school about to begin the job hunt began. But the 9-5 world just no longer fitted into my want to be a present parent, or my families routine when considering school runs, etc.
Soon, the only flexible working option appeared to be a lunch supervisor role at my son's soon-to-be primary school, and whilst the role appealed for convenience, I couldn't help but feel disappointed that I had spent so much time, effort and money developing skills that I couldn't find a job flexible enough for me to do around my want to be a present mum.
And then, I had a crazy idea. An idea so ludicrous that I didn't even know what it was called! What if I could offer the support I'd been offering for free/minimal hours, but as a full time job? What if I could work for lots of places all at once? But how?
I did what every one does nowadays when posed with a question we don't know the answer to - I asked Google and my journey to becoming a Virtual Assistant began.
My whole career, qualifications and experience had focused on administration and marketing. I had the know-how and experience of what to do, but had no idea or experience of how to do it. Self-employment was a whole new world, and so after a chat with my husband and dad, it was decided. I would research the hell out of how realistic it would be to work as a Virtual Assistant, with an aim to launch in May. If by September, when my son started primary school, the business idea had flopped, then I would take the lunch supervisor role. And do you know what? I never looked back!
I networked, attended expos, attended award ceremonies, hired an accountant and worked hard on my online presence. I quickly developed local connections which have stood the test of time. My client base grew naturally and more quickly than I had ever imagined, and my love of my work and working returned. I had found a career I adored, an identity of my own and the ability to be a present parent.
So what would I suggest if you cant find the opportunities you need?
Create your own and take control of your future.
If you put your mind to something and work hard, you can create your own opportunities and experiences.
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You can find this article in the April 2022 issue of Katie Queue magazine. Get your copy today here.