How I overcame THE FEAR to quit my career and start a business

What happens when you fall out of love with your job, and have a desire to do something new? How do you leave behind the security of full time employment to start your own passion-based business?

After years of building up a successful career in the media, Faith Hill faced this very dilemma. She tells us how she finally found the courage to start Spark Escapes, how she bridged the gap between employment and entrepreneurship, and shares her five tips for leaving your job to go solo.

Leaving your job is scary

Leaving full time employment is scary. Period. Especially so if you have responsibilities, mouths to feed, bills to pay. We’re conditioned to grow up and get a job – and ideally a long-term career – which will pay for us to live our lives.

But… what if you don’t want to spend your entire working life busting a gut for someone else? What if you have dreams of running your own business – big or small – or would like to work in a different way, a way which works for you, your life and your family?

I was tired of living someone else’s dream

I spent 15 years in London building my career in media; I loved it and felt privileged to be part of such an exciting industry. But, at 34 I became a) utterly exhausted and b) completely disillusioned with spending so much of my time living someone else’s dream.

I spent hours at the office, hours travelling to and from the office and hours at home on my Blackberry dealing with the office. And I realised that I’d lost my freedom and all sense of work-life balance.

In the midst of one particular heavy job, I attended a two-day workshop in London on how to find your true vocation. The facilitator, Marietta Birkholtz, led me through a number of exercises which helped activate the right hemisphere of my brain – the creative side. I uncovered my real passions, what skills I could take forward into my own venture, my favourite people environments and desired working locations.

I had an epiphany

The workshop was like an epiphany. I came up with the idea for my own business, Spark Escapes, on day two. And now I help people in the same situation I was in to break free of traditional employment and do something different and fulfilling – something that works for them and their lifestyle.

I was too scared to leave employment just yet

But (and it was a big but), I was too scared to leave employment straight away. I couldn’t imagine not having the security of a monthly income and was full of the fear of failure.

What if I fell flat on my face and had to crawl back to my boss, asking for my job back? What if no-one else had the same passion for my idea and my customer base was zero?

So I continued to work, but armed with my new sense of opportunity, I expanded my horizons and began an avid learning journey. I started to attend inspiration events, purposely seeking out people who had made a change at work. And I built up a network of useful contacts and educated myself in skills which would help me go live with my concept.

I said goodbye to my salary and went freelance

I left my job but not employment, instead choosing to work freelance with organisations and individuals from which I knew I would learn.

I had to say goodbye to the big salary but I was still earning enough to pay the bills. I cannot explain how valuable, rewarding and confidence-building this time was for me.

When I decided to finally launch Spark Escapes, I kept the scary financial pressure off (and saved myself freaking out) by going down to two days a week at work. It gave me the income I needed to survive but most importantly the time I needed to focus on my dream.

Allowing myself time to grow was important

Allowing myself the time to personally grow before I made the leap was really beneficial. I never lost sight of my goal but I gave myself the permission to go at a pace which I felt comfortable with. It reduced the fear of failure as I felt more prepared, and made the transition from receiving a salary to making my own income much safer.

I have continued coaching sessions with Marietta on Skype. Her support and advice, coupled with friends’ encouragement keep me motivated and focused on my dream business.

I still have days when I think life would be more straightforward if I was in employment, but god, it would not be half as fulfilling or as much fun as living my dream.

Five tips for leaving your job and going solo

To help you make the same leap, here are my five tips for leaving permanent employment and setting up on your own:

  1. Find a coach to help you on your journey. It is an expense which you may not consider essential but the right ones are worth every penny for their support, advice and constant positivity.
  2. If you know you’d like to run your own business but not sure what to do, creating a moodboard is a simple way of really honing in on what you’re passionate about. Put aside an afternoon or if time is short, it’s ok to allow yourself to build one slowly over a few weeks.
  3. Spend time with people who have already made the transition to feel inspired and grow your confidence that you can do it.
  4. Look into neuro-linguistic programming (NLP); it’s a superb way of alleviating fears and conditioning which may hold you back from going for it. I loved NLP so much I’ve trained to be a Master Practitioner and use it with my clients.
  5. Remember: you only have one life, so live it!

37-year old Faith Hill, quit ‘the big career’ in 2012 and hasn’t looked back. Spark Escapes promises to help you realise your dreams and begin an exciting journey where you set the rules… not your boss.