After seventeen years in a fast paced corporate organisation, managing a team of 30 people across the UK, I made the decision that it was time for a lifestyle change. I have always had a passion for accessories that are unusual and vintage inspired, so I decided to set up an online store for like-minded women.
There are clearly risks involved in taking the leap to becoming self-employed. In my case it was the risk of walking away from a six figure salary on one hand and having a true quality of life on the other. The corporate existence is often exciting but also frequently stressful and a year after I changed my working life I can honestly say it was the best decision I could have made. Sure there are small ‘sacrifices’ – I don’t find I need to cheer myself up by purchasing expensive trinkets to justify what essentially sometimes was a non-existent life outside of work. Now I appreciate different things such as the freedom to make the decisions I want to make and the ability to be the mistress of my own destiny. It’s likely to be a challenging journey over the coming year but one that I am already relishing.
I’m 46 years old and worked as a Sales Operations Manager in my previous life. That previous experience gave me a solid understanding of the mechanics of running a business. Organisations (large or small) work on the same principles and I have applied my experience in business planning, prospecting, forecasting and the financial aspect in starting a business on my own. I am lucky to have a supportive partner who has been patient and understanding whilst I have learnt the many aspects involved in setting up your own online store.
My new business
Accessories-boutique.com retails reasonably priced yet quality costume jewellery, scarves and handbags for women who are looking for something a little vintage or a little different. I currently operate from home and work as a team of one. The website went live in mid-January which is the toughest quarter of the year to launch any business but handily allows the opportunity to get to grips with the many aspects involved in the initial stages of a start-up. I have spent a great deal of time sourcing products and suppliers to ensure that there is an eclectic mix of products across the range. In addition to the website I attend ladies’ events which are very popular and give me the opportunity to meet clients and discover their style choices which assists in developing and broadening the range on an ongoing basis.
Toughest Challenges so far
Having worked within a large corporate organisation previously, I found that working from home on my own was challenging, you can initially miss the opportunity to discuss ideas with colleagues, however, over time you gain the necessary confidence that allows you to make informed decisions without the need for additional input from others.
Best piece of advice
Networking has provided me with invaluable support in the first initial months and I would advise anyone who is seeking to set up their own business to subscribe to business forums and speak with like-minded people for honest and helpful feedback.
I value hard work and tenacity in all that I do. I am a firm believer that if you really want something and you are willing to put in enough time and effort then you will succeed. In terms of business your biggest assets are your clients and everything that I do is to enhance their experience in their dealings with me and my business.
The high points
Personally for me the high points are when I hear directly from women who have purchased from me to tell me how delighted they are. It really is all about building loyalty and trust with your customer base and to get positive direct feedback is a wonderful thing.