This week’s career change story is from Victoria Casebourne, who studied Computer Science, worked as a computer programmer, then finally escaped to run her own business. This is the third in a series of guest posts designed to inspire mums thinking about a career change. To find all the stories use Career Change Story in the Categories drop-down.
If you have a career change story to share, click here to contact me. I am always delighted to receive guest posts on this subject.
Over to Victoria
Growing up I always loved anything creative. My first ever experience in business was at primary school where I charged 10p for a hand-drawn picture. I even had my own brochure which I created but perhaps needed someone to talk to me about pricing strategies back then!
With this in mind when I enrolled onto a Computer Science degree I don’t think there was anyone who was more shocked than me. I hadn’t even done GCSE computers but selected that degree as it was a ‘stable profession with job security’. I knew nothing of the “do what you love” concept and looking back this is probably where I went ‘wrong’ all those years ago. After graduating with a First followed by 5 long years as a Computer Programmer I realised I hated my job. In fact this feeling of dread of going into the office reached crisis point when I was offered tablets by the Doctor as I was apparently depressed. I knew that I wasn’t really depressed; just miserable with my career choice and no amount of tablets could change that. I had no creative outlet and no freedom to make decisions on a day to day basis.
Shortly after this I quit and jumped feet first into starting my own business with no plan, no security, no business experience and no training. I did however have a mortgage and two black cats to feed.
When I finally stopped shaking, I felt alive for the first time in my career and I remember dancing around the house when I sold my first product online for £10 around 13 years ago. That £10 was far more important to me than my large IT salary ever could have been. I knew then I had made the right decision.
My business took many forms over those years from: retailer, franchise, wholesaler, trainer and a retail store.
It was 3 years into running a busy retail store that I realised that I needed to make a change. I felt trapped by the business and started to have that sinking feeling again. I knew I wanted to start a family which I felt was impossible while I was working such long hours. After some soul searching and some tough decisions, I shut the shop and went back to being a solo online retailer. I found freedom again and started my family.
When my little boy was about 6 months old I started to get restless. I knew I needed a new challenge. One of the things I always loved doing was training people and chatting through creative business strategies. I set about creating a business opportunity based on my existing business so I could help other mums create their own home based businesses and find freedom for them and their family too. I knew what we had created was unique and the feedback we had was amazing from the start. I had an instinctive resistance to franchising, partly because I know I would have not been happy buying one and couldn’t understand anyone else wanting to (that’s a whole other article but I have a video here which may explain!); and partly because I wanted to help mums start a business which was theirs, which they could build on their terms and that made them feel proud.
From this desire a brand new business opportunity structure was born and we welcomed 35 wonderful ladies to our team in the first year.
What I am most proud of is that this whole business vision, the structure creation and the building of the team which now sits at just below 50 has been built very part time around my family. I work with two other mums who support me and the business and they are able to work very flexibly too. We are not a hard-hitting sales machine, in fact we never really need to ‘sell’ our package as people can see what a great proposition it is.
By becoming a mum it helped me create a brand new version of a franchise, one which is built around mums, supports mums and yet is incredibly profitable and flexible for me too. I really feel like we have built a win-win model which would not have been created if I hadn’t experienced what mums really need first hand.
Now I have a baby girl who is only 6 months old and there must be something ‘hormonal’ happening around this time; I am now setting up my own personal blog where I hope to work with mums from different business backgrounds with the plan of becoming a professional blogger.
If I could pass just one message to a mum who was looking to make a change, I would say make sure you are really clear about the life you want to create first and then ensure all your decisions reflect this. It is so easy to get caught up into growing and building that we lose sight of why we started the business in the first place. Ensure the business is there to support YOU and don’t fall into the trap of being there to serve your business at the expense of you. If this happens, your dream will start to lose the shine and you may become disengaged and feel it slipping away.
Just remember – I am a dyslexic computer programmer who went on to start a creative six figure business twice (with a baby break in-between). If I can do it, you can too!
Victoria Casebourne supports mums to start and build successful businesses around the globe and loves nothing more than when clients email to say they have finally been able to quit their job due to their work together. Victoria believes that it is super important to build your business on your terms from the start if you want your new business journey to have a happy ending. To learn more about creating a flexible income, register for free here.