Photo: Justin Luebke
We’ve launched our blog SecondStory, offering what we hope will be an inspirational and growing forum for those ready to start their next career, discover their next enterprise, and return to the working world, using their skills and experience in new ways.
SecondStory will also feature guest posts, to hear from those who have moved forward into new endeavours. We are delighted to have our guest blog today from Liz Bisset, with her insights and guidance on making that decision to move in new directions.
Liz Bisset is Founder and Director of LB Coaching and Consultancy. Her coaching draws on 20 years of experience as a senior executive in housing, regeneration and public services, with Board level experience. Liz’s interest in coaching grew from developing managers and leaders over the years as a Director of public services and seeing first-hand the benefits coaching can provide. Liz brings an understanding informed by direct experience of working at Executive Director level in Housing, Regeneration, and frontline pubic services, and as a Non-Executive Board member. Liz is especially interested in the challenges that senior women can face in the work environment, informed by encouraging many women over the years to recognise and build on their talents.
The Sense of Adventure
Planning for change is good practice, but it won’t give you the whole picture. One strand of my new business is coaching managers, and a common theme is thinking through what they need to do to achieve their next work goal. So, of course, I carefully planned my move from being a director of public services to starting out as an independent coach and housing consultant. I considered all the obvious things. Could I afford to make the move? Would the market want what I had to offer? What insurance would I need, and so on. All big picture stuff. What I had not anticipated was the sense of adventure in starting afresh and discovering what I was good at, what I needed to learn to get better at, and where I needed help.
Some skills I had taken for granted I became more aware of. For example, I was good at developing talent in others, spotting their strengths and areas for development. I had a client who was a brilliant presenter but a bit chaotic. I would capture his ideas in presentations and also gently suggest that the meetings that he chaired might go more smoothly if he set an agenda, had a finishing time, and knew what outcome he wanted. As he took this advice on board he could see for himself the difference in how people engaged.
On the other hand my IT skills when I started out were pretty basic as I had lazily accepted the help of support staff over the years. I improved my Powerpoint skills. I spent hours teaching myself to set up an Excel spreadsheet. More pleasurably I had to think about building a client base and I had a lot of rendezvous over coffee or lunch in the process. Other people working in my field often gave me the benefit of their experience.
Setting up a website was beyond me, and from this I learnt that friends and family can be incredibly generous in offering to help. My son-in-law designed and programmed my website, advising me on content and perfecting my copy. He talked to me about white space. He designed me a logo and got me blogging. He had also run his own business and gave me good advice on keeping my accounts up to date.
There were other things I could have done but didn’t want to. I employ an accountant to do my returns to HMRC and Companies House, although I provide him with monthly spreadsheets of income and expenditure (hence the need to set up an Excel spreadsheet). In the first year I would rather have this done for me than make a costly mistake.
I could not have anticipated how energised I would feel running my own business. I had not understood when a friend remarked that she had no real boundaries between work and the rest of her life what she meant, thinking this sounded a bit oppressive. Now I know it is actually very liberating. In a not untypical day I can get up and start work early in my pyjamas, then go for a run, then see a client, come home and catch up on reading, carry on or stop depending on what I have on in the evening. It’s a wonderful life and nothing now would induce me to revert back to the security of a regular job.