Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Year's Eve. New Life's Eve

The job that I have just left had a three month notice period and the first few weeks dragged but the last month and a half was an absolute whirlwind of trying to get everything sorted and handed over.

I have finally made it to my final day of work with my current employer.  There is much that I will miss about working there and the waste management industry as a whole.  As with any job, there are bits and pieces that I really won't miss but there is no point in dwelling on them.

Two weeks after I started a young lady called Emma started in the team that I was leading.  Now, I have much to be proud of with this job; we created new recycling systems, helped to build a recycling facility, worked really hard with Local Authorities across the UK...

But the thing that I am most proud of is how much Em has developed over the last 8.5 years.  She has been a great colleague and will always try to find the positive in any situation.  The below picture pretty much sums this up. We had been counting bins and stripping off old stickers in the rain and were absolutely soaked - but happy!

And so, here I am on the eve of 2016 and tomorrow I am self employed.   I am sad to leave my old team but excited for the future.  There is no part of me that thinks I have made the wrong decision.

I am going to relax during the weekend and be ready to tackle the first day of being self employed exactly as I mean to go on - with guts and utter determination to succeed.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Swarm of bees v knitting confirms my decision is the right one

So, it has been a few weeks since I made the giant leap to leave my job and become self employed and I wanted to document what I have been doing towards the new business and what my concerns are around going it alone.

First things first, here is what I have done so far to set up the new business:

1 - Set up a bank account.
2 - Continued to save every penny possible from my wages so that I don't have to get a bank loan.
3 - Registered as a Sole Trader with HMRC.
4 - Registered and bought the domain and a couple of other site names for future business ideas.
5 - Created the twitter handles for @KnitItHookIt and the other business ideas.
6 - Investigated some of the suppliers and manufacturers that I want to use.
7 - Bought a decent laptop - a Surface Pro, because that is what I am used to working on.
8 - Investigated accounts packages and started using free trials to assess which may work best for me.

All of the above took quite a bit of brain space given that I still run a household, have a reasonably demanding full time job and have quite a few other commitments including running a local knitting group.

My conclusion is that because I want to leave my job in good working order and don't want to frazzle myself out, I should leave it at that for Knit It - Hook It - Craft It until I finish work on the 31st December. So, on the 4th January 2016 I need to be focused and ready to hit the ground running.

Onto my concerns.  I am quite a sociable person and really like having a team around me.  If you don't count our cat Robinson aka Head of Morale and my mannequin Claude then it is just going to be me myself and I for quite some time...

On the upside I have started listening to craft related podcasts (Pom Pom Quarterly's and KnitFM's so far) and it is quite nice to have the same people talking about similar interests in a chatty manner.   It turns out that there are quite a few out there and so craft podcasters may unknowingly form part of my new team.  I also suspect that I will end up doing more in Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest because the craft community in the UK is very spread out and many of them use social media as a way of keeping in touch.

Another concern is that I have always earned money and from the age of 13 I have been pretty much self sufficient.  When I chose to move to self employment I also chose to step away from a monthly pay packet and that is scary.  I am fortunate that my husband works and so we can afford to live without my wage for a period of time.  The issue is less financial and more psychological.  I like to earn my own money.

The only solution to this that I can see is to work really bloody hard and make the right decisions from the start.  I can control those bits.

I mentioned above that I have been saving up for quite some time to ensure that I have start-up money sat in the business account.  I don't know if it is going to be enough and I won't know that until I get me teeth into the business in 2016.  Not a lot I can do about that until I can properly assess what the reaction is to the products that I will sell/manufacture.

Right now, I don't think that my concerns are too daunting.  I still feel like I have made the right decision.  I still want to be my own boss and bring something new to the table.

I mentioned my husband.  His name is Matthew and apart form being very good at business, he is also an extremely decent human and a great partner.  He is very supportive of my new venture and will offer whatever help he can give.

So here is the confirmation bit.  You may have noticed, hard not to really, the fashion for men to have massive beards that generally look like they have a swarm of bees on their chins.  Matthew was on the tube the other day and was standing across from a man with a swarm of bees for a chin and thought how weird it was that beards had come back into fashion.

I don't think I need to say more!

He looked up and down the carriage to see how many other bee keepers there were but he was surprised to find that Bee Keeper No. 1 was the only one.  He was even more surprised to see that there was 100% more knitters in that one carriage than beekeepers!  Yay for starting a craft business rather than a male grooming parlour.

Monday, 5 October 2015

I have just resigned from my job of over eight years.

Today is one of the biggest days of my life.  Today I resigned from my job.  Today is the first step to becoming my own boss and being accountable for everything that I do. 

Let me set the scene.  

By the time that I formally leave my job (end of December 2015) I will have been within the Waste Management industry for 15 years, almost to the day.  

Those years are fairly evenly split between two different employers (6.5 years within a Local Authority waste team and 8.5 years with a packaging Trade Association).  I am loyal, work hard and love my job, but something has changed within me.

My Dad has been his own boss for a number of years now and I have always seen the attraction of driving your own destiny through the good and the bad times.  That is what I want, that is what I have wanted for quite some time now, but I am loyal to the company that I am currently working for and I didn’t yet understand what my business proposition could be. 

At one point I seriously looked into curing my own local, organic meats and running an online shop.  Charcuterie, alongside food and cooking in general, really interests me but it was never enough for me to think 'tomorrow I will hand my notice in'…

Then a year ago I started crochet classes at my local high school and fell in love with all things yarn based.  

That led to a quick succession of learning to knit, intermediary crochet classes and visiting every yarn or knitting show within reasonably easy reach of Cheshire – although I am thinking about going to Shetland.  The upshot was that I found ‘my thing’.  That ‘thing’ that you know you can do, that business you can create that is unique and missing from the market place.  Also, it is much more difficult to potentially give somebody food poisoning with yarn based goods!

So, as of about three months ago, I really started to shape what my business could look like and used trips to exhibitions for market research as well as purchasing yarn for my latest obsession.

Fast forward three months and today is the day that I handed my notice in.  Literally about an hour ago.  So far it has been a roller coaster of emotions.  Pressing the send button brought elation and trepidation in equal measure.  The 25 minute drive to work allowed some doubts to set in – too late! 

My iPod shuffle played Tommy Petty – Free Fallin’, Paulo Nutini’s One Day and Chicane’s Autumn Tactics – all very relevant songs that meant that by the time I was unlocking the front door at the office and taking the alarm off I was in a Beyonce-esque ‘go get ‘em girlfriend’ type of a mood.

Then my boss phoned, sounding dejected but overall pleased for me.  That brought tears to my eyes.  As I said, I love my job and the three others that I work with – they are fab.  It just isn’t enough for me anymore, I need more.

So for the rest of today I am off to do my current day job.  I will update this blog at the end of the day when I have seen the team and talked through the intricacies of leaving in three months... 

I need a cup of tea.


So, as of 4th January 2016 I will be self employed. Gulp.  I have three months to ensure that I hand the job over in a decent state (I'm not one to hand in my notice and then sit on my backside for three months) and also try to set-up my new company.

Whilst going through all of the thinking behind leaving my job and setting up on my own the thing that I kept coming back to is that, where possible, I really want to be able to control who I work with.  Life is too short to have to work with people that kill your passion for the job.  To do something well, I have to be 100% engaged with it and see it as part of a bigger picture.  I love being focused, operational and working strategically.  I don't love having to work within a political environment or with idiots that have the charisma and personality of a box ticking automaton and seem to see women as lesser beings.  

I hasten to add, this is not my team that I am talking about.  They are lovely, fabulous and supportive people that I have happily worked with for many years.

Luckily the craft community is full of absolute lovelies and I can't wait to join in with my new business.  I look forward to being enthused and creative on a daily basis.

My intention is to blog every now and then with updates on how I am getting on with setting up the business, what was difficult, what was a breeze and what my approach has been.