[PAGEBREAK]Find your path Lorraine Conway speaks to four women who found different paths to a new direction
[PAGEBREAK]Can your dream be your inspiration?
Hilary Way, 63, lives in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, with her husband Robert. She has three grown-up children called Georgina, Oliver and Ben.
Business studies teacher.
New job Runs Café Latte in Woodford Green, Essex.
Start-up costs £6,000.
First year’s turnover £50,000.
“When I retired from teaching I needed a new challenge. I’d always wanted my own business, so I took a course in floristry, but dawn starts to buy flowers at the market weren’t for me. I’d also dreamt of running a café, but as I’m no chef I didn’t think I could do it.
My husband owns a furniture and design business in a beautiful old Victorian townhouse, which he leases. When two food shops nearby closed down, there was nowhere for local office workers and schoolchildren to buy lunch. My husband’s premises had a spare ground-floor room, so I suggested turning it into a café. My daughter was keen to get involved and we embarked on it together.
Neither of us had any experience of running a business or working with food, so we got in touch with the council to find out how to set up the café. First we had to apply for a change-of-usage permission, because the room had been part of the shop. Once our application was successful we took a course in food hygiene. We pooled together some savings – about £6,000 – to start the café. My husband had kept the room in good condition, but we had to install a kitchen, tile the floor and paint the walls. He was able to get the kitchen at trade price through work contacts.
We decided to serve coffees, sandwiches, paninis, jacket potatoes and light snacks, but I must confess at that stage I’d never even heard of an Americano! My daughter knew a chef, so we hired him for two months to help and teach us. This proved invaluable. We opened in October 2005 and it took a few weeks to find our feet. We underestimated how much food we’d need, so in the first few days we were rushing to the supermarket during the lunchtime rush!
We paid the chef a salary for the first two months and when he left we were able to take a salary ourselves. Now the business is doing well and I’m really enjoying my new life. We have some great customers and I love the social side. I haven’t fully escaped my teaching roots though and sometimes I find myself helping schoolchildren with their homework when they pop in for their paninis. It’s fun though and I’m so glad I made the change.”
Café Latte, 508 High Road, Woodford Green, Essex
My worst mistake Last autumn, we invested in lots of soup, but because of the mild weather nobody bought it, so each day we had to throw most of it away.
My best move Taking early retirement. I’m so glad I decided to follow my dream.
Top tip If you make a bad move and lose money, don’t dwell on it. Instead, start thinking of how you can make it back. We started doing takeaways to raise some revenue.
[PAGEBREAK]Your passion is the best passport to success
Vanessa Beeson, 40, lives in Hawick on the Scottish Borders with her husband Matt and son Walter, 2.
Old job Magazine publisher.
New job Runs her own gift shop.
Start-up costs £50,000.
First year’s earnings £22,000.
“In 2003, my husband Matt and I quit our jobs and moved out of London when I was pregnant with our first child. Matt had a job lined up, so I had time to think about what I could do. I’d always wanted to work for myself and loved the idea of running a gift shop. I thought about how often I’d spotted gift ideas in magazines and wondered, ‘How am I going to find that around here?’
In spring 2004, I noticed an empty premises, just off our local high street. It was on the ground floor of a really pretty building, so I phoned the owner. It was on sale for £25,000, which was just too good to miss. We grabbed money from wherever we could find it. I cashed in an endowment from a previous mortgage and used ISAs. This also covered our first batch of stock, which cost £6,000. It was always my intention to stock the shop with gifts that are different but reasonably priced because I wanted to cater for every pocket. We’re open three days a week, which gives me time for my family.
After a year we were still putting money in for stock, but from day one I’ve been able to draw a salary. I’m not earning as much as I used to, but I’ve got a better work/life balance.”
For more details, 01450-379777; www.jellyandicecream.net.
My worst mistake Thinking I could persuade everyone to have a pink Christmas the first year we were open. I think I underestimated the power of tradition.
My best move Finding a shop off the high street, which kept overheads low. It may take longer for customers to find you, but once they do they come back.
Top tip If you’re in a relationship when starting a new business, make sure one of you has a “proper” job. If you both give up your jobs, it could put stress on you both.
[PAGEBREAK]Is retraining the way to switch?
Janey Berry, 39, lives in Esher, Surrey, with her husband David and son Max, 6.
Old job Head of PR for a retail company.
New job Personal trainer.
Start-up costs Around £5,000 (including training).
First year’s earnings £20,000.
“When my brother died suddenly in 2005, it made me rethink what I was doing with my life. My husband and I were working long hours and I felt that I was missing out on watching my son Max grow up. I stuck at my job for a while and the decision to quit was agonising, but I really wanted the freedom of being my own boss.
I love exercise, and wherever I’ve lived I’ve always converted one room into a gym. Over the years I’ve invested in a lot of equipment and my friends have always come to me about fitness questions. At the beginning of 2006 I decided to take a course in personal training, which cost £3,950, thinking it would distract me from my feelings after the death of my brother and prove to be relatively easy. I was wrong; the three-month course was 70 per cent theory and really intense. At the end of the course I was qualified to be the highest level personal trainer. During the course, we got advice on business management, including everything you need to know when starting up a new business. From this I discovered that as a personal trainer I could choose my own hours, which was just what I needed.
I thought my own gym at home would offer the privacy you can’t get at a local fitness centre. I knew there was a market as I’m lucky to live in an area where quite a few people employ personal trainers, so I bought a few pieces of new equipment and started work a week after finishing the course. My first step was to get on the Register of Exercise Professionals, which is £25 per year. I also had to take out insurance that costs £150 per year and covers me for up to £5 million in liability.
I marketed the business by handing out leaflets on the high street one Saturday morning. I also went along to my son’s school and gave a leaflet to every child and did a general leaflet drop around my local area. As I arrived home after posting the last of them, the phone rang – it was my first customer. Within seven weeks, thanks to the leaflets and word-of-mouth, I had a waiting list.
I used to work 12 hours a day, but now I only work during school hours. Because most of my clients have their own businesses they can train during the day. I get so much satisfaction from helping people and, although I’m only earning around a fifth of my old salary, I’m much happier with the emphasis on time rather than money. With my growing waiting list, I’m sure that if I decided to go full-time I’d be able to reach my old salary again. Some nights, when David arrives home at 8pm after a day at the office, he asks if we can swap lives – but there’s no way I’d go back.”
For more details about Janey Berry, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
My worst mistake When the clients started rolling in, I found myself accepting every offer. My appointments were all over the place and I wasn’t in control, so I created a proper booking system.
My best move Through networking I forged links with a sports therapist and a physiotherapist who recommended me. Now about half of my clients are medical referrals.
Top tip Believe in yourself. Once you’ve taken that first step, you’ll be surprised how quickly it all happens.
[PAGEBREAK]Buying a ready-made business could kick-start a new career
Del Carnell, 43, lives in Harrogate, Yorkshire, with husband Andrew and children, Joe, 13, Jack, 12, and Romily, 9.
Old job IT recruitment manager.
New job Runs a SureSlim Wellness Clinic and is responsible for new franchises in the north of England.
Start-up costs £15,000.
First year’s earnings £45,000.
“I woke up one morning and realised I had to do something to change my way of working. I was putting in long hours, but had no control over the way my old company was run. I needed to earn a certain amount and didn’t think that starting a business from scratch was for me. However, I liked the support that comes with buying a franchise, so I began researching.
I looked at health, but I wasn’t convinced of the benefits of some products I saw. It was a year before I heard of SureSlim, which promises significant weight loss through bespoke diets that take into account all your health issues. I wanted to see the results for myself, so I got my husband to try it. He lost three stone in five months and was suddenly full of energy and feeling much healthier. Impressed, I bought a franchise, which cost £15,000, including full training, starter pack and marketing plan.
I had some savings and Andrew helped out as well. SureSlim put me in touch with a bank and helped me find premises. SureSlim believes that, as a franchisee, you’re in business for yourself but not by yourself, so I had support whenever I needed it. I decided to run my clinic from a local gym, to pick up health-conscious clients. I opened in August 2005, renting a room at the gym five days a week, and quickly built up a client list. After four months I had to hire an assistant to help me. Three months ago, we moved to bigger premises and I’ve taken on another two staff.
My salary doesn’t match my old one as I’ve been investing back into the business, but I’ll certainly reach it in the next couple of years. Most importantly, I love my work and I’m in control.”
For details about the SureSlim Wellness programme or taking a SureSlim franchise, call 0870-3214014 or visit www.sureslimuk.com.
My worst mistake Burning the candle at both ends. You really have to put your social life on hold for the first six months.
My best move Joining women’s business networking groups. I found a really good one called Forward Ladies and its networking events are a great way to make contacts and get advice.
Top tip If you’re thinking of setting up a business but lack confidence, speak to your Local Business Link: www.businesslink.gov.uk.
[PAGEBREAK]Which Bank for a small business?
Here’s what the high street banks are offering businesses:
A bank manager with a business expansion background, free seminars, 12 months’ free banking. www.barclays.co.uk.
Top tip “Take advantage of free advice organisations.”
John Davis, local business marketing director
Twelve months’ free banking for new businesses and no charges on cheques, standing orders or direct debits. www.hsbc.co.uk.
Top tip “If your business is online, you could save money by working from home.” Simon Wainwright, head of business banking
A credit card with up to 45 days interest-free credit and a flexible overdraft. www.lloysdstsb.com.
Top tip “Carry out a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis.”
Adam Gallimore, external affairs manager for business banking
Direct line to your business manager, free face-to-face advice and up to 18 months’ free banking. www.natwest.com.
Top tip “Don’t let financial worries pile up.” Hayley Bean, branch business manager
ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND
Free start-up guide and a flexible business loan. Direct access to a named contact. www.rbs.co.uk.
Top tip “Don’t be scared of borrowing. Use all avenues of support.” Suzanne Williamson, business banking spokesperson
[PAGEBREAK]Not sure what you want to do?
Whatever your needs, our career advisers’ tips will help you find a new job
Discover your “career hot buttons”
Research shows that money is rarely the primary motivator in finding a new way forward or switching jobs, says author and career coach John Lees. Whether you are returning to work or retraining, you can discover what you want from a career or job by listing the items below in the order they matter to you most:
1 Meaning and fulfilment 2 Influence 3 Expertise 4 Independence 5 Relationships 6 Security 7 Status 8 Financial rewards 9 Imagination
Work out what motivates you at work. Use the “career hot buttons” to think about what is currently missing from your life that a new job would help provide. Not every job can tick every box, but recognising what matters most is the key to job satisfaction.
Get fresh eyes to look at your CV. Ask a positive-minded friend who can focus on your achievements, so you’re less likely to take jobs that aren’t skilled, demanding or interesting enough.
Make a wish list. Don’t be passive and accept whatever comes along. Concoct a recipe for the ideal job by thinking about exactly how you want to spend most of your time.
Here are some more things to think about when deciding on your ideal job:
Location: Consider whether you want it to be urban, rural, aesthetically pleasing, flexible, close to home…
Hours: Would you like to work nine-to-five Monday-to-Friday or are you looking for more flexible hours?
Size: Are you interested in a large firm that can invest in training? Or would you prefer a smaller firm focusing on individual support?
How to analyse yourself
We asked careers adviser and life coach Jackie Sherman to give some guidelines on pinpointing a new direction. She suggests making a list of the number of different skills – many of which will be transferable – that you’ve acquired over the years. To do this, look at the following areas of your life:
Training: Think of all your skills (from taking digital pictures to life saving) for which you’ve got diplomas and certificates, completed in-house courses or had on-the-job training.
Leisure: This is easily overlooked, so think of clubs, societies or groups you belong to as well as hobbies or community involvement.
Work: Identify your more general, transferable skills. Can you handle money, file, deal with complaints, produce reports, catalogue, manage staff, take bookings or negotiate? Have you helped your partner or a relative to run their business?
Personal qualities: Are you good at organising, helping others, coming up with new ideas, being practical, persuading people or taking charge and getting things done?
Achievements: What are you proud of?
Match your skills to the jobs
Handling people: If your strengths are advising, listening, interviewing, persuading or managing, then think along the lines of human resources, marketing, market research, social work or counselling.
Dealing with things: If you like making, sorting, preparing, restoring or designing things, then consider the world of interior or graphic design, architecture, craft-based jobs, antiques, finance, computing, property management or scientific and technical work.
Being artistic or creative: If you lean towards the arts, consider jobs connected to theatres, galleries and writing, painting, music or performing arts.
Dealing with ideas: Are you successful at adapting, evaluating, questioning, planning and presenting? How about training, administration, teaching or legal services?
[PAGEBREAK]Find out more To complete a personal skills analysis and action plan, visit www.aber.ac.uk/careers/cdp/skillanal&ap.html. If you want to retrain, there are thousands of courses at www.learndirect.co.uk. Also read: How To Get A Job You’ll Love by John Lees (McGraw Hill, £12.99) and How To Find Work When You’re Over 50 by Jackie Sherman (How To Books, £9.99).