Most of my previous daily dispatches have been about my work, personal learning or productivity practices.  I have rarely worked out loud about building and running my own business.  I’m at an interesting point in my business life.  I recently decided to really go for it and build a business rather than ‘owning my own job.’  I’m adding this area of my working life to my daily dispatch topics.

When I started writing this daily dispatch this evening it was going to be about how I am developing processes.  I’m doing this in order to delegate work to others in my business – in positions that don’t yet exist.  The post changed as I wrote it.  It’s now about my recent decision to grow my business rather than look for a job.  It provides context for future posts where I’ll work out loud about some aspects of growing my business.

A 10-year old business

I registered my business ten years ago.  It’s undergone a few iterations in this decade.  For four years up to late 2016 it was inactive while I was an employee at Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA).  Most of the time it’s just been me working in the business.  I engaged a Contractor for a few months in 2011 to help prepare for becoming a Registered Training Organisation.*  I also used a virtual assistant for six months in 2017.  However, I wasn’t ready to use them effectively.

Trading One Type of Job for Another

When I left CCA an excellent opportunity immediately arose to conduct a strategic review of the learning function at Qantas.  This developed into a 16 month consulting engagement on transformation across the Qantas group.  It was an intensive assignment that limited my capacity for other work projects.  While no longer an employee, I had traded one job for another.

Working While Travelling in 2018

I was living in Sydney at the time.  It’s a rather expensive place to live, especially on one income.  While there are more affordable places to live, many of them are remote from my potential clients.  I wanted to work with a range of organisations, to make a wider contribution.  I also yearned for greater flexibility in my working life.  To avail myself of the power of the internet and work from anywhere.  As a single parent being able to vary my working hours and pattern would be valuable.

The desire to change my business model was one of the reasons that I decided to leave Sydney in early 2018.  I did a seven-month road trip with my then 13-year old daughter (there’s a few posts to be written about that experience!).  My revenue goal was to earn enough to pay for our AirBnb accomodation during our trip (which, by the way, was cheaper than the rent I’d been paying on a 2-bedroom apartment in Bondi Junction).  I met that goal.  It also tested different types of work – including running public workshops, facilitating an online social learning program, managing a virtual global project, and starting a podcast.  Nothing like experimenting!

Resettling

When we left Sydney we didn’t know how long we would travel or where we would live when we stopped.  We settled in Brisbane in late August 2018, ten months ago.   I spent several months in a liminal period – a period of transition between one state and another.  Things were fluid as I explored partnerships and service offerings.  By early 2019 the new shape of my business was falling into place.  Working with partners and collaborators means I no longer work alone.  I also use coaches and advisors.  However, I’m still the only person in my team – and this limits my capacity.

A Decision Point

In the life of every business there are key decision points.  I faced one of those recently – a period of anxiety where I wasn’t sure whether to commit to business growth or look for a job.  Growth requires continued investment – effort, time and forgoing the income from a senior corporate job.  Indecision is energy-sucking.  It was making me weary.  I needed to make a decision.

After several weeks I realised that a decision to keep working on my business could be reversed far more easily than a decision to get a job.  I was also influenced by a painting on my daughter’s bedroom wall.  It’s inspired by a motivational quote you may have seen online.  The artwork is her original creation.  “I didn’t come this far to only come this far.”

I’ve committed to growing my business for at least the next 18 months.  Let’s see what works, what doesn’t, what I learn and where I end up in December 2020!

* As an aside, I can’t recall why I decided not to proceed with becoming an RTO.  Now I can’t imagine why I thought it was a good idea in the first place!  I’ve come a long way in my thinking and practice since then – which I reflected on as part of this recent blog post.


2 comments

  • Peter Davis

    Great post Michelle. Thanks for sharing these insights into your more recent history. It takes courage to do what you’re doing as I’ve discovered in my own journey which is similar to yours. One of my key learnings has been to be patient without being anxious. Worry gets us nowhere. You learn to put greater value in the things that matter. As always I wish you the greatest of success as “this far” continues.

    Reply

    • Michelle Ockers

      Thanks for your encouragement Peter. I agree that worry gets us nowhere and I’m pleased to have moved through this phase. I find that taking action, doing something positive to keep moving in the direction of my goals, is a great antidote to worry.

      Reply

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