5 Tips for turning a leap of faith into a successful new adventure

Ever wondered where so many talented, inspiring, ambitious women go mid-career? And what happens to their extensive collections of high heels?

On the cusp of 40 and with my own young family I’m surrounded by former colleagues, peers and friends who have disappeared from the more expected career progression. They’ve veered onto a new path, or created one for themselves. I find myself surprised to know so many who’ve made this move, but it’s not surprising at all. Research by the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry shows the number of women starting their own businesses doubled from 2007 to 2013, with about 1 million women trading in Australia via online businesses in 2013.[1] I feel like I know about half of them.

There are many reasons why women – and it is mostly women – make the choice to set their own parameters for life shaped work over a work shaped life: the high cost of early childcare, short school hours, partners who travel, aging parents, jobs with long hours and travel requirements, an increasing  expectation of round the clock availability exacerbated by technology, and the (sometimes) hard-to leave faces of small children.

But what does it really take to make this shift? To successfully change careers, follow your dreams or start a new business? Almost seven years ago I took the leap of faith, starting my own business after falling pregnant while on ‘gardening leave’ and have worked with countless other start-ups since. Here are my top 5 tips for turning what can be a scary jump into a life-changing, successful new adventure…

  • Start with a plan. By defining what you stand for, being clear on what you want to achieve and putting together a blueprint for how to get there, you will set yourself up for success. Studies have consistently shown that you’re 50-80% more likely to reach and exceed financial and productivity goals when they’re written down.[2] “Whatever your vision is for your company, remember to keep it clear and full of purpose, and you are on the way.” Richard Branson[3].
  • Build a safety net.Be realistic about how long it will take you to establish a viable income stream and then create a financial buffer, or a way to supplement your income in the interim. Surround yourself by supporters, seek mentors and tap into experts where you need to. Reaching out to specialists in areas such as branding, social media, research, book keeping, recruitment & systems management can be informal, low cost and is often mutually beneficial. Consider it an investment in your success!
  • Create your own luck.As entrepreneur & all round guru Oprah Winfrey said: “I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.” Create or maintain a network whether via formal breakfasts, over coffee or online. Build connections, partner with complimentary businesses, contribute to your local community, and work hard to create new opportunities.
  • Have Confidence.Believe in your abilities, your training, your experience, your ability to add value and most importantly, in yourself at 2am when it all seems too hard. There’s a reason you wanted to do this in the first place – capture your inspiration & purpose so you can refer to it when you need a reminder. You can do it!
  • Continually strive to make things better.Invest in training, attending forums and courses, learn from other businesses and business leaders, read case studies, stay up to date with industry changes and work to better understand your consumers. By continually striving to be better and taking it one step at a time you’ll ensure your business continues to grow and evolve in response to the market and to the benefit of your customers.

Regardless of whether you’re looking to start your own business, take a hobby or passion to the next level, take up a course or change roles, the ability to shape your own career path for the short or for the long term is full of exciting possibilities. And with any luck you’ll be wearing those heels for a celebration party of your own!

Sarah Ford

[1] Women’s Agenda “There’s never been a better time to be a woman in business” by Fi Bendall 25th Sept 2015

[2] Forbes Woman “Why You Should be Writing Down Your Goals” by Ellevate, 8th April 2014

[3] Entrepreneur.com “Richard Branson on Developing a Vision for Your Company”, April 29, 2014

Author: Sarah Ford
BlueFish Director & Marketing Specialist, Sarah Ford, has over 23 years' experience in brand management – 10 of those at Marketing Manager and Director levels and a further eight years in Retail Management. Passionate about marketing, Sarah understands the complexities of the consumer landscape and is known for her ability to create practical, cost-effective plans, which stand-out with consumers and meet business objectives. Sarah established BlueFish Marketing in 2009 and continues to provide marketing support on a campaign or project basis. Recent clients include JBS Foods, FreeTV Australia, Unilever, Paradigm Foods, MFA, Connecting Finance, Jurlique Int, Moving Mannequins, SCAD Research Inc, Little Chomps, Mummymetime and many more.
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