Reflections on a big leap

So it’s the weekend before I move my business out of the house and into a rented workshop. A moment i’ve been dreaming of probably long before I even had a business?! I have always found myself day dreaming, in those years I was in jobs that didn’t really fulfil me, about what my dream workspace would look like. Light and bright, fun, open plan, desks everyone sat around, a hive of activity and colour, me in charge! So to be making an actual step towards that feels really significant so I wanted to write some words down, because I want to be thankful and mindful and remember this important step for my business.

I suppose I need fill those of you in who don’t know where my business started and how long it’s been going so that this all makes sense. Well I was in a career that while I had chosen it, wasn’t doing it for me. I was a corporate responsibility consultant, having worked in the field of sustainability/environmental policy for about 16 years. I was getting increasingly frustrated and rebellious at work (my poor boss), it was clear to me that I just wanted to get out. This was all around the time that Chris and I were starting a family, so by March 2014 we had two beautiful sons, Eric was 15 months old when Herbie was born. I’d been thinking about alternative career ideas when I was pregnant with Eric and off on maternity leave, but not seriously, but after Herbie was born, I started to really come up with a plan as to how I could not go back to a job that took me away from the children which I hated, and which really was killing me inside.

I just couldn’t bear that I was spending hours of my precious life in a stuffy office, whiling away the time, watching the clock, not really achieving anything or making any impact on the world, this was not living! You spend so much of your life at work, it felt so wrong to be doing something that drained the life out of me, I was just determined to come up with a better plan.

So I started thinking about business ideas. I’d originally studied Textile Design and I love coming up with new ideas and drawing, and graphics so I originally thought I’ll go into surface pattern design and work from home and make money that way. I’m not sure why but I didn’t pursue that but I started out making little needlepoint kits using plastic canvas. It was all very handmade and amateurish but I started to sell a few on Etsy and I was off! I of course cringe when I look back at those early days now, but I’m also pretty pleased with myself because I just started. I just put myself out there and this really was the start of everything that has happened since. I started to put my voice out into the world and started to make myself visible, knowing that I didn’t have a perfected product or craft or art, but that I had something unique that no-one else could offer and that I wanted to be ‘part of the conversation’ that I could see being played out on Instagram with people running creative businesses, and doing their own thing. Or to use Brene Brown’s analogy, I was ‘In the arena’. So if you scroll right back to the beginning of my Instagram, you’ll see some of these early products and ideas I was selling. I think the key at that stage was that I knew I had something to give and that I just had to start, to see that worked out. No body starts out an expert, everyone has to start somewhere. Maybe this is important for some of you reading?

So I was off! But while I was confident that I could set something up and maybe give up work in a year, reality for me was it that it would take a whole lot longer! I went back to work full time after my maternity leave with Herbie ended, just grabbing any time in the evenings or in my lunch break to work on ideas. I then changed jobs, still in the same field, to the job I would do for the next two years, while building up my business in the evenings. I hated working full time and not being around for the children and this was always a major driver for doing something different. I just wanted to be at home! Not an hour away with some boring men in suits doing something that I was not passionate about and probably not that good at either! This was not good for the world or me!

So my passion drove me to just keep plugging away at my business in the evenings and weekends, selling on Etsy, then Not on the High Street, writing for Mollie Makes and building a brand, very slowly. It wasn’t until September 2017 that I made the scary leap to leave my full time well paid job and do this full time. And it was a leap, I don’t have a rich husband unfortunately! He like me is following his passions and runs a start up business too! So we were really taking quite a big risk. But there were so many benefits, no childcare costs, time with my boys, so much more quality of life, no commuting etc. etc. And I’m so glad I did. Since that point I am not exaggerating when I say I’ve never been happier. I just feel like finally I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. Everything about running my own business suits me down to the ground. I’ve never worked harder in my whole life but that feels so good because I feel like I’m actually achieving something!

So back to the plot, I have always up to this point run the business from home. People are often quite surprised when I tell them I have a laser cutter in the conservatory! We were really fortunate to have a house that could accommodate a growing business. We have this naf 80s conservatory on the back of the house that is actually a perfect little workshop and has meant I can be working while also nipping into the kitchen to wash up, make dinner etc. We’ve put a shed on the patio for sanding, and then I’ve taken over the attic space for my office, and stock storage etc. But we’re at the point now where it’s just all too much, I can’t work efficiently, there just isn’t enough room to store everything that I need and I definitely could not expand and stay with the business at home.

So here’s the honest truth about moving the business out of the house, I don’t have money lying around at the end of each month that I’m thinking, oh that’ll pay the rent! Things are still tight here, there are always things to spend money on, to grow the business, more stock, a new website, bulk buying packaging and materials. This, like leaving work is another big scary leap! But like leaving work, while I feel scared, I know that the alternative, standing still and not taking action, is scarier, because it’s boring, it’s not taking a risk, it’s not moving forward. With both decisions I feel like I’ve got to the place where it’s been a no brainer that this is the next move, if I’m serious about my business then this is what I have to do and if you give me that choice…’do you want to move your business forward?’ I will always answer YES!!!!!!

So in writing this I’ve kind of given myself a pep talk and kicked some of those niggly fears away! I’m taking a running leap into this with a massive smile on my face, not a scared half hearted fearful jump. This is what I’m meant to do I’m sure of it, this is the next step. I’m giving my skills and talents and hard work to the world and it feels good. I keep thinking of one of the pieces of advice from one of my favourite super coaches Tony Robbins, he talks about, in relation to the pursuit of our dreams…. ‘Take massive action. And if something doesn’t work, what do you do? Try again, try something different. Then what do you do if that doesn’t work? Try something else. And what do you do if that doesn’t work? You got it, try again.’ Watch a clip of this here….

So this is me taking massive action, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll try again, and if that doesn’t work I’ll try again, because I am doing everything I can do to spend my days fulfilling my dreams and giving something positive to the world, whatever that may be.

I get they keys tomorrow (June 3rd) so I’ll be taking you along with me on this new adventure, follow along on the blog, on Instagram and sign up for my newsletter to hear all about it!

Chloe Hardisty