I have had many jobs down through the years. All through the eighties and nineties when many people were finding it difficult to either get or hold onto a job I found it relatively easy because I treated it professionally. I was for real!
- I had skills in more than one area of employment and job searched in them all
- I was prepared for the interview in advance, I practiced what type of questions I was likely to be asked
- I presented and interviewed well and could think on my feet when thrown an awkward question
- I let my personality shine through without being cocky or shy
- I interviewed them as much as they interviewed me (and ended some interviews early)
I’ve also been self-employed down through the years, although for a lot of people some of the types of self-employment might not have been considered proper self-employment. I’ve had some people tell me “That’s not real work, it’s just pin-money” although I was earning up to ten times as much being self-employed than employed for the same amount of hours worked.
As a single mother with two small children I struggled to balance it all. At first I found that I had no time for the children (or myself), or I was not concentrating in work because I was thinking about my children. I see-sawed through guilt, anger and self-doubt regularly. Most mothers go through this when they first return to work .
For me becoming self-employed was the perfect answer to all of that. I only gave up working in paid employment when being self-employed was bringing in more income than my paid employment.
I have heard Mums in business say that they often have a problem balancing it all. I know a lot of people will give out that Dads in business are just as responsible, but the fact is when our children are sick it is the mother who sacrifices her work life to look after the children eighty percent of the time. The result is our work life suffers and so does our self esteem.
When this happens we are often accused of not taking it all seriously. I’ve been a self employed party plan manager where recruiting an active team was part of my job description. I was really successful at it. The main reason was I promoted party plan as Mums business, a work from home business that offered a work life balance, where Mums could work around their children.
From the start I treated the whole thing as a serious business and after a couple of hiccups I had a strategy in place to cover just about every eventuality that might arise. When my children got sick I had a childminder that I could trust to mind them for the couple of hours that I had to work. When my car broke down I had a couple of taxi-drivers on retainer to get me to my parties.
Very quickly I organised my work according to a schedule I had set out and only worked those hours. I presented professional yet fun and educational parties and was often asked to do repeat parties for hostesses, year on year. If something came up and I couldn’t cover a party I had someone just as professional trained to step in and fill the breach.
I looked for opportunities to network with my target market (although I didn’t call it networking). I attended training events where I got to brain-storm with other party planner and swap ideas and tips. When I trained as a manager and had my own team I demanded the same high standards from them that I demanded from myself.
I treated my earnings as proper earnings. I kept accounts from the start. This is the one big area I’ve seen many work at home women fall down. They treat the money they earn as “pin-money”, something to pay for the extras, the treats they want to provide for their families instead of proper earnings that are taxable.
I didn’t realise at the time that I had a marketing and business plan in place, to me it was simply a set of goals I wanted to reach, when I reached one I concentrated on the next one. I passed this on to my team too. I used goals as a recruiting tool as well as a training tool with my team.
The one thing I’ve brought to each type of employment, be it paid employment or self-employment is treating it like the real thing. I’ve never played at business, I’ve always been for real. Are you?
As a business coach and trainer I’ve combined the same strategies and skills and can now help other mums in business to balance it all without losing themselves all the while being in business for real.