Deciding to start a business can be one of the bravest decisions someone can make. There is lots of reasons why you should, and plenty of reasons why it’s not the right time. We need to be as prepared as possible, have financial backing, and have all our ‘ducks in a row’ to give it the best chance of success. This can seem so daunting.
As I near my 1-year business anniversary, I realise now I didn’t consider any of these things in enough detail – number 1 lesson learned! My decision to start a business was an emotional one, based on a passion to help customers but also to escape the corporate world I was in.
I worked in the Banking industry for nearly 10 years, in Australia and the UK. The two experiences were so very different. In the UK, at the time, it was about lending as much money as possible. It was a man’s world and results driven. I worked with 3 different Branch Managers and learnt a lot – including what not to do!
Australia was very different again. I purposely chose a smaller bank to work for, that was more customer focused. I started from the beginning and worked my way up. After nearly 5 years in the same branch and same role, I was bored!! Even if I didn’t know the answer to a question, I knew who to contact to find it. Nothing was a challenge, and I thrive on challenges. So, I began the search for a new challenge, in a new team. I was really lucky to be referred to the business team in the city and applied for a job as an assistant to the Business Managers – which I got!
I really enjoyed this role, I learnt SO much! I worked with a great team of 4 passionate Bankers who wanted to help customers. Better yet, they wanted to help me develop too. Each of them took the time to sit with me and build my knowledge and skill set. They helped me so much, I was asked to be a Business Manager within 8 months, which I turned down. Such a risky move, but I wasn’t ready. But they asked again 4 months later, and I felt obliged to say yes. If I didn’t take it now, I didn’t know when the opportunity would be given to me again.
I was a Business Manager for nearly 18 months and loved 90% of the role. I loved being out on the road and visiting my customers, I loved helping them and seeing their businesses grow and I loved the knowledge I was gaining.
The other 10%, began to make me unhappy. I didn’t like filling in the charts, I didn’t like telling someone I couldn’t help because it didn’t fit our policy (especially when I knew another bank may have been able to) and I didn’t like the politics.
I made a joke one day to my colleague, after telling a customer we couldn’t help them because of a policy change, wouldn’t it be great if we were Brokers, we could help everyone! My colleague at the time then pulled me into an office and said, we’re thinking of leaving and becoming brokers – what do you think?
We met outside of hours and went through the plan, how it would look and what we’d do – all very high level. I was going to England for a month so couldn’t make any rash decisions, so I said I’d give them an answer when I was back.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t think about it as much as I should have while I was away – my best friend was getting married! All I knew was I didn’t miss my job. I wasn’t excited to go back, not that many of us are on holidays, but it boarder lined dread. I knew at that time I had to do something different and make a change. I could have gone to another bank, but I was of the belief that it would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. I was at risk of losing the passion for what I did… so I needed a bigger change.
So, I came back from England and jumped in. I didn’t think, I just acted on emotion.
As I sit here, I still do not regret making that decision. There is so many lessons I’ve learnt, so many things I would have done differently, but leaving my job and starting on my own isn’t one of them.
I get to help people every day and do it my way. I’m on the road seeing people again, not filling in forms and I’m helping them achieve their finance goals. My passion is back.
I am not saying it is easy, and I really wish I’d planned more, but I’ve been lucky to surround myself with great people and have an even better business partner. We’ve worked so hard to go through all the finer and important details.
Making the decision to do it is the hardest part. The biggest thing I’ve learnt is there is a never a right or perfect time to do it. Be as prepared as you can possibly be, but also prepare for the unexpected as you can never fully anticipate everything that business life will through at you.
Surround yourself with amazing people and talk to them. I’ve not spoken to anyone who started a business who regretted their decision to go out on their own. It is never going to be easy, but it will be worth it – or so I hope!