I have just finished a video conference call with a prospective client for my new business, Third Quarter Tribe cic. Yes me. Yes - really! I am so excited that I had to write about it. I can’t quite believe it - from the short, fat, spotty, shy girl at school with little ambition, I have developed into a go-getting, mature entrepreneur, and businesswoman. How did that happen? Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would describe myself in those terms. Ever.
I have to say it's been a journey through various paid employment routes to get to where I am today. My natural shyness is something that I have worked on, to create a professional persona, even if I sometimes quake behind it! I have worked on my self-confidence and picked myself up when it has been knocked by others. I haven’t developed it on my own. I have been very fortunate, and still count myself so, to have fantastic friends, business partners, and other business colleagues who have counselled, mentored and supported me along the way.
The journey to where I am today started about two years ago when I went from managing small community projects to being part of a much larger international, multi-agency project, involving partners from several different European countries. Well, that selling myself short really - one of my bad habits. I was actually a key member of the project management team, leading on a section of development work for the whole project. My colleagues were professors in universities across Europe and successful businessmen and women in their own right. Boy was I frightened, especially the first time I walked into a room with these people. I felt panicky, that I had no right to be there, that I wasn’t as good as them intellectually, wondering what I was doing there or had to offer, finding it difficult to voice my ideas- quite literally. As the project developed, and with help and support from my then work colleagues and boss, things changed and my confidence grew. I discovered that they all treated me as an equal, that they valued my input and looked to me for advice and support. I still found it difficult to stand up in front of a large group of people and talk, to lead rather than follow. But I DID.
I began to feel at home in this environment and to relish my role and the work that I did. I was beginning to think about semi-retirement at the end of the project and then - bamm - a completely unexpected and rather horrible situation occurred in my workplace which left me without a job, completely and utterly confused. I lost all my confidence and self-esteem. I applied for several jobs, got interviews but in my heart I knew that I really didn’t want to be employed by anyone else again. I wondered about retirement but felt that I wasn't ready for that yet. I wondered if others my age were thinking about making some sort of change concerning earning a living and not knowing where to go for support. I talked to a friend in a similar situation. Depressed, unsure, uncertain, angry, and a little scared. They confirmed that without support from others they wouldn't have known how to turn their working lives around. As a result, I decided that was my path. To provide that support that people over 50 in similar situations desperately need. At first, I wasn't sure how to do it. But with help and support from my network, friends, and family, a business was born and a new businesswoman has emerged. Who Knew? I still feel panicky and can freeze when I need to stand up in front of other people and talk about my business, or like today when I have an important video meeting. My confidence is taking time to repair but it is. And I am certain that what I am doing is the right thing to do, will help others and is a successful business.