By Joanna Penn
It is a warm day here in Lowestoft and I am enjoying the sunshine. I feel that summer is coming round the corner and that makes me feel great. As I sit here, I think about how far I have come as an entrepreneur in the five months I have been established and this makes me think about the changes that are happening over the next few months.
I had the idea of self-employment last Spring after several failed job interviews. Don’t get me wrong, they were good practice but I was beginning to feel a little frustrated due to unproven disability discrimination. Even the big organisations are unwilling to recruit an independent, visually impaired person. I was having a challenging time during this period, my guide dog was ill, my partner had moved in which led to problems with universal credit and my sister’s partner was having health issues. I felt that these things were encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone. This was something that I knew I had to act on.
Speaking to friends and family focused my energy into looking at self-employment, though I was unsure what form this work would take exactly. I am a competent administrator with various customer service skills; I’m a musician; I love working with people and I have experience of working in challenging environments. I considered various options like being a virtual assistant or starting a personal assistant service, mental health work or counselling but all of these paths would cost money and during this time I didn’t have the mindset to take this on. I was stuck and I never liked being stuck.
Fast forward to last July, after my guide dog had to retire and the stress before a major operation that was thankfully cancelled at the last minute as it was decided to be unnecessary. I bit the bullet and looked into something that had been mentioned a few years back – life coaching. A friend who was a coach told me that I would be great at coaching as I love helping others find themselves and that I see the best in most people. I began looking at the options and I was shocked at the costs. Also, I wasn’t sure if my disability would affect my work but I contacted a few companies and found somewhere that did a two-day taster.
I booked myself in and began researching coaching courses that would accommodate my needs. After I completed the taster, I was enthused and excited. I spoke to my partner about finances and we agreed that it would be fine and I had support from my family. However, the course the provider suggested was expensive and that wasn’t the only cost; I would have to travel to and from the venue and pay for accommodation. I remember feeling deflated – I felt that I wasted my year and began to feel a sense of doubt.
But I also felt determined, I decided to go it alone and try and get clients without qualifications. I asked my niece to help me with web design. I had an idea initially I wanted to help people with mental health issues who were still in education, but after receiving some coaching myself I realised I wasn’t valuing myself; I was charging too little for my work and I had no idea about my client avatar. During this time I was getting cold leads and I started to feel a little lost, something needed to change.
After reading a post on a networking group, I heard of an ex-GP who was a master of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) called Dr Bridget and I spoke to her about her courses. She was attentive to my needs and explained everything. I felt very comfortable with her and I knew what I had to do. I made a decision, I was going to be an NLP and Hypnosis Practitioner. This would meet my need for a profession working with people; to help them reach their dreams.
I am currently studying and by May 2019 I will be qualified as an NLP Coach incorporating Time Line Therapy © and Hypnosis. I am moving forward with the work on my business and I love the fact I am cutting away some of the red tape that has held me back in the past. I work with young creatives who need to find their symphony in life to move forward in their own art and I take on individuals who are looking to find the answers to enable them to find their way through the cacophony of this world.