For most of my working life I have been self-employed. I didn’t set out to work for myself, it just happened. When I qualified as a teacher it was almost impossible to pick-up a full-time position. So I took part-time hours in Malahide and Portmarnock Community schools. Given, my degree in Business Studies, I also looked after the accounts for my family’s wholesale plant nursery. This wasn’t has handy as it sounds. Many creditors took an age to pay their accounts.
As a result, I spent part of my time visiting the accounts offices of customers to physically collect outstanding debts. During this period, the rest of the family, my sister, Dad and Mum, who worked in the business, went away on holiday. I was in sole charge and as this wholesale business was situated on the road that led to Malahide Castle, a number of people came unsolicited into the business to ask could they buy plants that they could see from the road. When the rest of the family returned from holiday, I suggested that they open a retail facility, in addition to the wholesale nursery, to take advantage of the cash potential that I had witnessed. The reaction I got was “well if it’s such a good idea why don’t you do it.” So I did and we built a national award winning business together over 14 years and I continued to work for myself ever since then too.
The reason this story came back into my head was that over the past few months, in my role as a LEO business mentor, I sense an increasing trend with people, in what would be regarded as senior “good” jobs, who want to be self-employed. Every Tuesday, I host Fingal LEO‘s business clinics, where clients come to learn about LEO supports and services. Often, those attending the clinic are exploring the possibility of setting up a business. During the past year, many employed in high level corporate positions are telling me that the stress involved with their job is too great and that they cannot achieve a work life balance. Their solution is to use their considerable skills to set up a new business. Their challenge is to package these skills, in a form, that is marketable and in demand. LEO does provide appropriate training to support clients to achieve this. In the clinic, I advise them of these services. I also try to give them a real picture of what it is like working for yourself. It is not for everybody but it has been great for me. I’ve enjoyed a challenging, varied and rewarding working life until now and I don’t expect that to change in the coming years either!