Nothing changes until you do
I have always been a problem solver.
If something wasn’t working for me, I’d change it…didn’t matter how BIG or complex the problem appeared, I always believed there was a creative way to solve it. I still strongly have that belief. there is nothing that can’t be fixed, given the right resources and an open mind to finding a solution that works for everyone.
When I was 10 years old, our local library (a tiny sub library, in a back street rather than the main one) kicked a bunch of the neighbourhood kids out one day for making too much noise.
I figured kids should be able to talk in libraries, read yes, but also express themselves and just be kids
And so, I set up a fully-fledged library service from my brothers attic room.
Over the course of 2 days I had convinced all of the kids down my street to donate their books, I had acquired a date stamp (don’t ask me how) and I had set up a system for borrowing books, and even an event schedule.
I have many, many stories like this…well into my working life.
When I look back at my varied career I like to think of myself as a professional problem solver.
The people I have worked with have changed, the problems they (or we) faced have been varied, and of course the solutions are always different…but my role in figuring a way through, well that has been steadfast.
In 2012…a whole decade ago, I was faced with the biggest problem ever….one I hadn’t seen coming.
I was made redundant…and I was 6 months pregnant at the time.
I had been working on the London 2012 games in various roles for the past 8 years, but my final job was a permanantish job, and I really believed the local authority that I had really settled into, would find a role for me in the cultural or regeneration team in some way…they didn’t, they let me go.
A year later, as the problems of early motherhood seemed to be being resolved, and boredom started to set in (always a great creative energy by the way) I set up a business. I turned a blog I had been writing as a hobby into a plus size fitness brand, clothing range and coaching company.
I have been working for myself ever since.
Now it is worth saying, that at this point I was not new to self employment. My first freelance role was in 1996, working during my Easter break while still in 6th form, and I would go on to do lots of ad hoc projects, have multiple project based contracts, and even officially start a company to act as an umbrella for all of my training and consultancy work…Urban 8 Creative Solutions, but I always still believed that full time employment was probably the way forward…I just needed to find the right job.
Well as of a month ago, I started that job.
Yes a full time, proper job.
At the end of August, I took up the position of Executive Director of Business Consulting for Oakwood Management Consulting, a company led by CEO Emma Shenton, a long time client and friend of mine. Having been her business coach for a while and seen her passion and vision for the company, AND see it expand exponentially over the past few years, it became a no brainer YES when she asked me to join the company.
I made the announcement about my new role on social media this week, and Linkedin and Facebook blew up. I literally received hundreds of messages of support, especially from friends who know both Emma and I.
However there are still some people who are genuinely shocked by my move…not quite believing that I am not working for myself anymore.
So why the big change?
Look the last few years has been tough for so many people.
When the pandemic hit, I went into problem solving mode. I even designed a model The Triangle of Need to help my clients find their own solutions in their businesses.
The model asked 3 fundamental questions…
1. What do I need?
2. What do they need? (my clients, my staff, my followers and fans)
3. What does the world need? (what else is going on in the world where I can help?)
Over the next 18 months I would create more than 30 solution focussed programmes, products and services, I would co-create hundreds more of these with my coaching clients (as they grappled with solving problems too), I would work with more than 3000 clients, and I would have some of my most successful (by all metrics) months in business EVER.
But it wasn’t enough.
Turns out I was dealing with too many immediate problems, while not keeping enough of an eye on the BIGGER issues.
I was still living in my 2 bed apartment in East London, homeschooling my 9 year old and managing a suspected diagnosis of ADHD and no surprise bouts of anxiety and overwhelm, and I was doing this alone…a single mum, who had very little time to access support, or heaven forbid have a bit of dating fun or a social life.
Business success alone was not enough for me…there was something missing.
The good news is I knew it, the bad news is it took me slightly too long to act on it than it should, and my body forced me to. At first a bout of real hard to ignore adrenal fatigue and then around this time last year I got COVID which saw me hospitalised briefly. Both leading me to ask “What really is the point in all of this?”
Something needed to change, and that something or more importantly someone, was me.
I knew if I started making small changes, stopping things which were no longer working for me, and starting things which felt like they would…the answers would come. They always do. And so I did 3 things…
- I used the Triangle of Need Model for my running business…and developed a whole new methodology, online programme and book (bringing in some much needed revenue)
- I sought out a personal project…the running of the Sierra Leone marathon for the charity Streetchild…helping me to reconnect to my passion for supporting young people in education.
- And I created a new business tool called “What’s the Point” which I used for myself and then sold to a small group of entrepreneurs as I tested it further
What this meant was by the time my job offer came in at the end of May, literally a few days before I flew off to West Africa, I had already decluttered my life AND got much more clarity over what I wanted so that making the decision became an easier one.
The thing about change and about problem-solving, is that you don’t know ANYTHING really about where you will end up.
Making peace with that is the challenge.
It is very easy in this climate to play the blame game, or to make BIG statements about why things are not working, when actually most of the answers, the solutions are within you. You just need to ask the right questions and perhaps even drop the ego for a bit (I know thats what I needed to do)
Nothing changes until you do.
My new role utilises much of my skills and my experience from the last 25+ years…but it is also going to take me completely out of my comfort zone and force me to find new solutions, new frameworks, and new ways of working.
What I know for sure, even after just 29 days in post, is that I have found so much of what I was looking for through self-employment, in terms of creativity, co-creation, collaboration, focus and autonomy, but also things like job security, and the ability to switch my computer (and my brain) off every night and be more present with my 9 year old.
A massive thank you to everyone who has wished me well in this new role.
And although my new consulting business isn’t focused on solopreneurs (our focus is on mid size business), I will continue to share content, my journey and other resources which may be helpful as you grow your ventures.
…if you are looking to make BIG changes, get in touch…I am particularly interested in hearing from business owners who have no desire to run a lifestyle business, and have bigger dreams for creating real legacy.
Remember, nothing changes until you do
The "What's the point?" experiment
Julie Creffield is a serial entrepreneur, and creative business mentor with a passion for helping solopreneurs to THINK bigger and PERFORM better
She has developed a cool little (OK BIG) product to help solopreneurs take a step back and realign with their business goals, business model, and business practices….and as with all of her ventures she is piloting this, and consulting with the very people who need it.
This is for you if…
- You are a solopreneur who is feeling a little lost right now
- You are not 100% sure if you are on the right track
- You are experiencing burnout…or can see it coming
- You want things to feel a bit easier
- You want to explore (or re-explore) what you are offering
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