Predominantly working with people running their own businesses, one of the first questions I ask is, what led you to start freelancing or to set up your own business? Generally, there are two answers – a life change (usually having kids) meant they had to reassess their career or it started as a side-hustle until they were ready to take the leap. Some people I work with, still haven’t given up the day job because its scary, right!
So how do you know when it is time to make your idea a reality or your side hustle your main hustle?
In my experience, having cancer when I was 31 made me re-evaluate my life, but I appreciate that is quite an extreme starting point! Chances are, your side hustle or idea utilises an additional skillset and is passion-driven. This was the case with Catherine Jones, who owns a Hertfordshire based florist, Flowers by Catherine.
‘It was never my intention to run my own business. I’d been a PA for over 20 years.’ Catherine told me. ‘Initially, I enrolled on an online Introduction to Floristry course as a hobby. This sparked something inside me, and I wanted to pursue it further, so I enrolled in some evening courses at college while working full time. Originally, I was just doing flowers for friends, family and school fairs.’
Overtime Catherine’s balance changed, she began working part-time as a PA to focus more on her own business, until she was in a position to give up her part-time job to focus full time on Flowers By Catherine. ‘After nearly 18 months, I had reached a point where I’d decided – that was it!’
‘Flowers by Catherine is where my passion, motivation and determination lay, and it had to be done properly with full-time focus and investment, which eventually resulted in me opening my own florist in Wheathampstead.’
Taking time to build your business seems to be a big step that many of us want to skip (I wholeheartedly put myself in this column) but it is an obvious necessity. I often remind myself of the saying – Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
Recently, author and freelance journalist Laura Jane Williams said on her InstaStories that she now gets editors pitching articles to her, asking her to please write them. But she was quick to caveat it with the fact that it had taken four years of gruelling pitching and developing relationships with editors to reach this point in her career.
Clearly, it takes time to get yourself “out there”, and Catherine Jones agrees, ‘I think the biggest challenge with any business is building awareness and credibility and maintaining and growing that, particularly if you are the only person in that business. And remember – You don’t have to have all your s*** together from Day 1, it’s an ongoing journey.’
Like we discussed in the last Inspired & Aligned article, How to be Gentle to Yourself and Your Business, you need to set achievable, goals that allow you to build both your business and confidence until you ready to step off the metaphorical cliff.
‘I spent years as a PA being told I could do and be so much more but was always in the background supporting everyone else. I guess I finally had the confidence to step out and put my name above the door!’
Instead of seeing that early starting point as a hindrance, use it to develop, learn and grow. Tap into resources such as the governments Small Business, Enterprise & Employment webpages or the Federation of Small Businesses free Start-Up Guide and keep trying to make yourself visible, as it is often YOU customers are buying into. As Catherine Jones said…
‘In my opinion, determination, passion and adaptability are what you need to see you through. You are your business, be yourself, that is your superpower. Although it’s tough and many of us have tried to be everything to everyone – do what you enjoy and if you accept that it is perfectly fine not to be everything to everyone you will attract the customers you want.’
Many thanks to Catherine Jones from Flowers by Catherine for talking to me about her experience setting up a business. Visit Flowers by Catherine’s website or Instagram to see what she’s doing, or pop into her absolutely gorgeous shop in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire to see all her beautiful designs and carefully selected gifts and homeware sourced from local artisans – when we are allowed obviously!