For years I had always dismissed the idea of working for myself as I considered that I didn’t have the skills and wasn’t brave enough to take the risk. I had grown up with a successful family business and saw firsthand the demands it can have on your life, but I also appreciated the many benefits it could bring. I am a proud farmer's daughter, fresh creamy milk on tap, juicy sweetcorn picked straight from the field and a large garden to play with my friends (ok you did have to dodge the cow pats!).
About 15 years ago I started to have some conversations with a friend, who had his own marketing business about whether I should set up on my own as an independent Human Resources (HR) Consultant. Throughout the years we would rehash this conversation and each time it would last no more than 5 minutes before I would shut the idea down as I didn’t think I had the sales skills and I couldn’t cope with the insecurity of not having a fixed income.
Reflecting back I can see exactly how I was getting in my own way and actually it was my fears and not my perceived lack of sales skills that was the root cause of my problem.
There are sales and then there is being visible! When I thought of sales I was thinking about the sales people I was commonly interacting with, people trying to sell products and in particular banking products and hard calling. When I thought of sales I thought of the door to door person, the cold calling sales person, think your typical PPI calls, the energy supplier, the network provider who knocks on the door.
My shift in mindset came when I realised that firstly my product/service is something I believe in, I am excited about what I offer and have seen the results. Secondly, it was about positioning this aspect of my business in a way that worked for me. I am not selling something, instead, I am making people aware of what I do, who I work with and the challenges I can help people with. I am not pretending but being me. It's not about sales but about being visible and letting people know what I do and how I can help them.
Secondly, I did have experience selling. In my role as an HR professional within a large corporate, I had to sell concepts, ideas, proposals I just had a captive audience. I had already built this skill and had gained experience I just needed to think wider and consider how this skill transferred.
I lost perspective. Instead of exploring the possibility, speaking to other people in similar positions and contacts who could help me I let my fear hold me back. I was letting this one fear grow and take over. Yes being visible and letting people know what I do and how I help people take control of their careers is a key part particularly as I build my business, but it’s not the main part, that’s working with people to make a positive impact on their lives, helping them get from A to B. I was letting this fear get out of perspective, because it was something I believed I didn’t have experience of, I didn’t have any skills and therefore was outside my comfort zone.
Only this week have I been working with a wonderful client who saw an advert for her dream job but could not see how she had the skills and experience to apply for it. Yet when we worked together and we looked at her career to date, time and time again she has demonstrated these skills; they just weren’t always in the most obvious way. Once we were able to uncover this, she was able to demonstrate her experience throughout the CV and she now has an interview.
All too often we are quick to close an idea down as our negative inner voice starts screaming at us that we can’t do it, we don’t have the skills, the knowledge or the experience and so we go for the easy option and do nothing. But if an idea is persistently emerging and refuses to let go, then you owe it to yourself to explore further as often we are able to do it, we do have what it takes and life is about learning. Enthusiasm and courage can get you there.
Figuring out our transferrable skills and being honest about our fears is key to any career transition. If you are considering a career change but don’t know what or how to make it happen, why not book yourself in for a free breakthrough call and start to write the next chapter of your career.