“First time around, I would pick a business that I was genuinely passionate about or created a business doing something that I was truly good at."
"I created a social media business which represents ALL OF ME: the real technical geek, the person who loves teaching AND the person who loves learning.”
Previous career overview
MSc Computing. Several years at BT before a successful 10-year career in IT Project Management within the Health Service.
What triggered your career change/career re-design?
After yet another re-shuffle, Louise found herself in a senior but temporary role and when the re-shuffle settled there were no equally senior positions on offer. Louise felt that she had no choice but to accept a lower grade position. That didn’t sit well at all with her.
“I felt under-valued, as if the wind had been taken out of my sails.” Louise very firmly felt that her decision to work part-time since the arrival of her first child had been taken advantage of. These feelings strengthened her resolve to take the reins of her career fully into her own hands and resigned after 10 years with the company.
What were the first steps you took to changing career?
The feeling that there had to be “something more” to work than her current career had been growing over the few years before her resignation. Not being someone to sit on her laurels and wait for opportunities to come to her, Louise had set up a company 2 years before actually leaving her corporate job.
“I saved everything I earned. On my days off [from my part-time corporate role] I would squeeze as much work as was possible [in my own business] into the hours when the kids were at school or when my husband came home from work.”
While that first business was very different to Louise’s current business, it taught her all that she needed to know to evolve her business ideas.
What did you learn during that process?
“I learned that you have to love what you do so that you can really thrive. I thought I could make my first business work because I had noticed a gap in the market. But I didn’t enjoy working in it like I love working in my current business. It’s a whole different ball game.”
“My first business was a craft supplies shop which I started while I was on my first maternity leave. By the time I had my third child, I had opened a retail shop thinking it was a way out of this corporate life. I applied for help from a local business development scheme. One of the advisors there was less convinced by my craft shop business, but she was really impressed with my social media knowledge and said that it was more advanced than most of the other business owners she had been working with. That was it – the genius idea was born! I closed up the shop and started my social media business.”
Louise’s social media business has grown into the very successful (https://socialbeeni.com/) with a podcast, on-line courses and social media advice.
If you had to do it all again, what would you do differently? Why?
“I wouldn’t have opened a craft shop! I knew nothing about the business but I learned lots about buying from suppliers, selling and wholesaling which helps me mentor people in those industries now. So, nothing I have learned has been wasted.”
“First time around, I would pick a business that I was genuinely passionate about or created a business doing something that I was truly good at. I created a social media business which represents ALL OF ME: the real technical geek, the person who loves teaching AND the person who loves learning.”
On the days that you KNOW you have made the right decision, how do you feel?
“On top of the world!”
“I can sit outside the school gates waiting to pick up my kids and do interviews or send emails. My life feels so much more integrated. I am making it all fit together - family and work.”
“It is very possible to have a very satisfying and enjoyable career between the hours of 9 and 2 every day – as long as you put a very high value on your time. If it is important to you to be there to pick up the kids after school, then you have to be clever with time management – but it is completely do-able.”
“I was gullible at the start. I believed what people said. I wasted time trusting people when my time was so precious. I am much wiser now at picking who to meet and when to meet them than I was in the beginning.”
“What one piece of advice would you give to anyone re-designing their midlife career?
“You’ve only one life! And you have to take some risks.”