Firstly please tell our lovely mamas about your coaching/ consulting practice?
I’m a business adviser, mentor and coach. I’ve worked in this capacity since 1998 but only on a self-employed basis since November 2017 (for this particular business although I’ve been self-employed since October 2015). I love working with business owners, people who set up their businesses because they have a passion for what they do – but then often the reality of running a business hits – and it’s daunting!
Imagine being a fabulous graphic designer but not having a clue about how to price your services, or how to market your business to get clients – or maybe you’re ok at marketing but can’t close a sale! This can become so stressful.
I like to take that away from my clients by showing them the way, breaking business down into manageable chunks and giving practical advice and solutions that I know work.
My clients then go back to their business with a clear framework, knowing what they need to do. Yes, they need to do the work but they now understand the ‘how’.
After taking a career break to have children, I now want to return to work. Ideally it would be a role that is flexible so that I work only when my children are in school. However, after being out of work for 4 years, my confidence is super low. Can you help?
Yes I can – I have been exactly in that position. I was made redundant in 2011 whilst on maternity leave and so I took a few years out to me a mum to my little boy, Sam. But then he was due to start school – what was I going to do? I dreaded the thought of going back to employment; the 9-5, which is now the 8-6 or more; the commute – it filled me with dread.
I was really keen to start my own business and friends and family thought I’d set up as a business adviser but I’d lost my confidence in my abilities – how would I do that without the back up of an organisation? It was an excuse that had no foundation.
And that’s the thing – we let our minds run wild, giving us excuses as to why we can’t do things.
My advice is to get back in touch with the woman you were before you had your first baby. Grab a nice notebook and a pen and start writing down the things you always loved to do, how did you love to feel, how did you love to dress etc. Are you different now? Is it good different or bad different? How would you like to feel now? How can you make this happen?
It’s really important to feel good about ourselves and that way we become more confident in the person we are.
Also consider your skills if you’re looking to go back to work. What do you love to do? What did you do before children and would you like to do this again? What made you great? Write down real examples of when someone praised you for what you did. Do this daily because this will help your brain start to remember these times and you’ll naturally re-gain the confidence in yourself and your abilities.
Also, surround yourself with people who champion you – and ask them what they admire about you and what they feel your strengths are. You’ll likely be surprised at what they say, in a good way.
I’m a 41-year-old mama with 14 years experience as a teacher. 2 years ago I left my school and set up as a private tutor. However, I’m now at the point where I have to decide whether to go for it as a self-employed tutor or return to teaching. I love the flexibility of working on my own, but also find it lonely. Do you have any advice on what I should do?
Yes, being self-employed can be lonely. Luckily I quite like working in isolation but I know that many people don’t and that’s very normal. I have a few things to suggest:
- Find out if there are any networking groups local to you specifically for private tutors. These groups might meet regularly and you’ll be able to bounce idea’s around and discuss your specific needs and get the support you’re looking for.
- Search social media for groups specific to tutoring. If there isn’t one you fancy joining, create your own, build a network and virtually engage with them. Software such as Zoom or Skype will enable you to have regular meetings with your group.
- Set yourself boundaries and know your limits. You might only feel that you can work for so many hours a week on your own – so don’t overdo it if working alone gets you down.
- Be social at other times – meet with friends and family regularly so that you’re getting the interaction you need outside of your work.
- Write down the pros and cons of being self-employed against being employed – write down all of your thoughts and then consider what would really be best for you. We have to earn a living and whilst the flexibility of self-employment is wonderful, if the isolation makes you feel anxious, stressed or even depressed – is it worth it?
- Talk to people close to you who you trust about your dilemma. They can’t make up your mind for you but they might have nuggets of wisdom that you hadn’t thought about.
I’m nearing the end of my maternity leave after having my second child, and I really don’t want to go back to work.
I’ve come up with a business idea that I think could work, however I’m struggling with imposter syndrome, and wondering if I really have what it takes to start a business. Do you have any tips for me?
Imposter syndrome is a real thing and so is comparison-itis (where you compare yourself to everyone else who’s doing what you want to do) – it’s also a very common thing, especially in women.
The thing to remember is that you do have skills and you will be skilled in an area that other businesses or consumers will pay you for.
These days more women than ever are starting their own businesses because the infrastructure of employment doesn’t suit our needs. As such there is a great deal of support, specifically online to help you set up your own business.
Having been there myself, my advice is to do your research in the industry you’d like to set up business in and write down how your skills match up. Don’t worry if you don’t feel you can do everything that might be expected of you, you can learn – there are lots of online learning solutions available at very low cost, such as Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, etc.
Again, find groups on Facebook that supports the industry you’re hoping to set up business in. These groups are full or women (and men too) who are doing the same as you and most likely feel exactly the same as you do.
Don’t hesitate to engage with the people in these groups – tell them how you feel and you’ll be amazed at the support you receive. You’ll likely create new friendships along the way too.
Imposter syndrome is something that does go away in time but if I’m honest, I feel that you’ll probably need to be doing the job before the feeling fully goes away. But be assured that it will.
Throw yourself into your new business, immerse yourself in learning all you can and your confidence will grow as you develop your skills – and it’s amazing how quickly this can happen.
My overall advice is ‘share how you’re feeling’. You’re not alone, there are women all over the world feeling as you are now and lots of others who’ve been there and have come out the other side. There is lots of help and support for mama’s these days – find it and use it – and become the best version of yourself that you possibly can.
Thanks so much Fay for taking part in our Expert Career Advice series for mums.
Find out more about Fay and how she can help you here:
And get social with her here:
Special offer for For Working Mamas readers:
Fay is very kindly offering all For Working Mamas readers a 10% discount on her Signature Coaching and Mentoring Programme, Smart Business with this code FWM:FBSB10