Taking a break and starting a biz

I have wanted to tell you what I have been up to for a long time. I am one of those writers who procrastinate a huge amount about blog posts (wait, sharing some of my personal life rather than living in the vivid world of my imagination?). Some of you may know that I have taken a six-month leave of absence from my academic position at Deakin. Now I’ve been back part-time for a month, the dust has settled a little, and I am ready to share all the crunchy deets …

Looking back at the six months of my leave of absence starting in September 2017, I first had a mini heart-attack trying to remember what the hell had I been up to. Did I just waste a huge amount of time and spend a good fraction of my savings having a mini gap year at home? Well no. Looking back at my monthly plans (I’m a big fan of monthly planning, but I’ll get to this in a future blog post), I did a lot. I went to Iceland and Switzerland with my boyfriend to visit my family; I did a huge amount of soul-searching/soul-digging, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life; I wrote a novel; and I started a business! I want to focus on this last element in this blog post.

My business is an editing and writing business (the ATO classifies it as ‘proofreading and document preparation’, which sounds really sad). How did it come about? Going through the exercises in the amazing What Color is Your Parachute career planning book (one of Times’ best 100 non-fiction books), it became very clear that I am both very good and interested in written and verbal communication. I think that one of my special talents is to read/ingest a huge amount of knowledge and regurgitate it in a way that is cogent and interesting. Looking back, it isn’t surprising that I have gotten through dozens of diaries during my childhood (ranging from diaries dedicated to friends’ antics to ‘a day in the life of the dog’ diary). I also wrote a book on training my donkey aged 14 and got it published! If that isn’t a clue to a wider calling, then I wonder what is.

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I wrote that much during my time out, not including writing on the computer.

I then trawled the web resource O Net Online. It’s a bit out-of-date and limited now, but it’s a great way to cross-reference your personality traits (I’m an ENTJ on Myers Briggs and an ASI on the Holland test) to different jobs and skillsets. When I landed on the “Editor” page, I knew that was it. I’m good at writing and I’m very anal about little details, but I can also see the wider picture (I scored equally on the “sensing” and “intuition” axes of Myers Briggs). Knowing that retraining through the prestigious RMIT Masters in Editing and Publishing wasn’t an option (I don’t have $20,000-$30,000 lying around) and that my CV wouldn’t jam with mainstream editing companies, I decided to go my own way, freelance and create my own business.

Maybe here a little hiatus is necessary – I will try not to repeat the word freelance again through my posts, as it doesn’t stick with me. When I think of a freelancer, I think of someone in pyjamas working for little money, probably picking up a bit of day-old crisps from his hair as an afternoon snack. I much prefer to see myself as a business owner/sole trader, although all freelancers are technically business owners. A business owner has a strategy, a business plan, and ultimately that “empire mentality” (as the great business coach Christine Kane would put it), which can make all the difference whether your business is starting out or (God bless you) you’ve already reached six figures.

I started my business in December 2017. It’s technically five months old now, like a tiny precious sapling, or a small fire that I’m trying not to blow out (not too much wind! not too much tinder!!). Hence I will put a disclaimer on all my business insights: they derive from a tiny weeny baby business owner, but one who takes it seriously and has placed considerable emphasis on mindset shifting and retraining to bridge the gap.

I will leave it at that for today because one of the key insights for new business owners is: don’t burn out. Take a break. You’ve got this!

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