How I took the leap from corporate top to starting my own business

There were course more significant mountains to navigate over and around, such as the recession that hit our business rudely unannounced and with force in September 2008. Back then, our business was 100 per cent recruitment services with significant exposure to financial services. The crisis had a profound and immediate impact. 

However, this ?mountain? actually resulted in the career accomplishment that I am most proud of. Within six weeks we had sized up the impact, had a plan to diversify and invested in an alternative growth strategy that saw us launching a new business to market on 1st January 2009, which signed up a Fortune 500 customer within five days of launch. This then set the path to us investing in an organic growth strategy whereby we launch a new business every 18 months. Our ability to grow at an average of 40 per cent p.a through this recession and emerge a fully diversified, stronger and fitter business than when we went in to it, is the reason I know I am right to be calling the shots, trusting my instincts and running my own business as an entrepreneur.

If you want to take the leap to entrepreneurialism yourself, here are a few things to consider

Make sure you are going towards something you really want to do and not simply moving away from something you don?t enjoy.

Can you accept that traditional corporate structure does not apply? You will not be paid on a set day (as you will more than likely be taking dividends), you will not work set-hours, you can go to the gym whenever you feel like it without ducking and diving, your personal and professional lives will merge beyond recognition?

You will not having anyone setting you deadlines, or pushing you so you have to do this for yourself. Equally, you will not have anyone recognising your efforts, or patting you on the back ? again, you will have to do this for yourself.

Really understand why you want to take the leap and be honest to yourself and others you go into business with or are close to. If the reason is to pursue something you are deeply passionate about, then great – but nine times out of ten, it isn?t this deep and meaningful, and that is just as fine too. Your reason could be to work like a maniac, become a millionaire and retire before you are 40, or to provide for your family so that they have a better start in life than you had. It doesn?t matter what the reason is, just be honest with yourself as it will make decision making so much easier when you know what the end game is.

And if you have made the decision to do it?

If you are going into business with other people, do your digging and then make it official. By digging, I mean spend time with them, proper time, late at night, over a bottle of wine debating topics, drivers, passions. 

Listen to your gut instinct: you are likely to spend more time with your business partners than you are your husband or wife, so make sure you like them, respect their views, understand their motivations for doing things, and that they align with yours. When you?re happy and then diving in together, then make it official. Draw up a shareholders agreement and think of every possible awful eventuality that could disrupt your business and make provision for it. If it was anything like our session, there was a lot of laughter, quite a few tears but a sense of relief that we could deal with the unexpected and got all the difficult conversations out the way whilst we were all clear-headed and able to make them

Finally, make sure, every day, without fail, you schedule some time to laugh and have fun. Even if everything that day is going in the wrong direction, stop for two minutes to look at funny animal clips on YouTube or ask the team to share their best joke and remember your time is now your own! You?re not laughing whilst you should be serious and working on someone else?s payroll, this is your business, your culture and a little chuckle (or as I prefer, a full-on belly laugh) always reminds you why you are no longer on the corporate treadmill.

So, am I any less ambitious that my early twenties in the bank? Not a jot. In fact, I now not only feel that anything is possible, but know that it really is and I have the power to make it reality.

Lyndsey Simpson is co-owner of The Curve Group.

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