Breaking news! I can stop searching for my 'next big thing'.
I've found it!
I don't really want to say what it is until I've signed on the dotted line but assuming it all goes to plan, I shall be buying a franchise and running a marketing related business in my local area shortly.
I'm really excited about it. I know it's going to be hard work and I know it's not THAT far removed from PR (in fact if I wanted to, I could do PR but I will be thinking long and hard about that).
It's been weird this little journey of self discovery. I sold my PR business and didn't have an inkling of an idea of what I wanted to do. In fact, I went onto BBC Radio Berkshire and spoke to Anne Diamond for a full hour about how I didn't know what I wanted to do. Anne was convinced I did know and was just hiding it from her. Possibly the most ridiculous radio interview of all time (well obviously not quite as ridiculous as the whale interview).
In the last 7 weeks I have considered many jobs, including:
- Trying out a different job every week for a year and then writing a book about the experience. I binned that idea because it was a huge amount of work for no money which didn't seem massively clever.
- Writing a novel. I binned that idea because I have started a novel and thought with all the time on my hands that the ideas would come flowing out. They didn't. In fact my creativity seemed to die altogether. What's more, every blogger and their dog wants to write a novel. Gazillions of novels are written every year and few ever even get published, much less make the author any real money. I realised that my desire to 'write a book' was purely ego based, so that I could say that I was a published author. It wasn't likely to make me any money. Perhaps one day I will when my story hits me. Until then, that idea will be shelved.
- Becoming a freelance writer. I very, very nearly signed up for a year long writing course and I have signed up for a photography course (which I'm doing over two weekends). But I realised that you don't make too much money being a freelance writer and what's more, I'd spend my life pitching story ideas to editors which was one of the reasons I wanted to leave PR in the first place. So that idea was dispensed with.
- Cookery - I looked at this three ways. 1) To run a cookery school franchise where you teach kids/young adults to cook. But those franchises claim to be family friendly - yet expect you to run your classes after school and in the holidays. So what are you meant to do with your own kids? 2) Train as a chef and then set up my own private cookery school. I thought about this seriously but the training alone cost £14k and then the set up cost of a school was even more. 3) Running a coffee shop. This is a long held dream. But I think it comes down to the fact that I like eating cake and drinking coffee with friends, rather than working every minute of every day and wondering if I'll make ends meet. So I shall save my cookery for home and not try to earn a wage from it.
- Set up an incredibly awesome website that would help more mothers to work flexibly around their children. It really annoys me that there is this wealth of talented women sitting at home wondering what to do with their lives/degrees/years of career experience when there are so few jobs that are suited to the demands of motherhood. This is still an area I believe passionately in and if I had a techy business partner who could front up A LOT of money to get the site developed, I still think it has legs. But there are challenges you take on because you know you can just about achieve them and challenges you don't because they are bigger than you. This was one of those.
- Going back into employment. I looked at a huge range of jobs including PR jobs (god forbid) and even sent off a few emails for them. I signed up to various websites for freelance work too. But my heart just wasn't in any of it.
- I considered moving to the sea and buying a property with an annexe and running a B&B/holiday let. But that decision has a bit of an impact on the rest of the family and truthfully, I'm not sure it's right for me. Not now. Perhaps when the kids have left home and I can combine my baking/cooking/writing/yoga interests into some kind of holiday retreat for women who want to escape.
- I researched franchises. Lots of them.
Just as I was getting ready to resign myself to a life of Kept Womandom, I found a franchise that seemed to tick all my boxes.
And strangely, it was the boxes that had been clarified on this journey of discovery. What did I actually want from life? What is most important to me? I thought ego and doing something I am passionate about were right up there. A need to feel as though I'm doing something great. I felt that doing something I really loved was going to be more important than making money as long as I felt it was making a difference in some way.
Actually, what I want is to earn a good amount of money, enough to let us send our children to private school if we choose to. Enough to allow me to fly around the world to see my family. Enough to make me feel that I was seriously contributing to the household pot. And that's where the ego box gets checked, not from fame or selfless goodwill.
Also what I want is to have the flexibility to work the hours I want to work and go on holiday when I want to go, not having to ask permission from someone if I can go watch my children's Christmas play or apologising that I'm off work again because of a sick child. I want the freedom to see my children after school. I don't want to commute for hours. And I don't want to live to work. I want to work to live.
I want to know that I'm making a difference but that difference doesn't need to be saving rain forests or starving children in Africa. That would be lovely, but I'm more pragmatic than worthy. I have skills that I know I can use to help other businesses out there. In my own small way, that is how I'll make a difference.
My destination is not that far from my starting point but I've travelled a broad loop of discovery to get there. It's been a journey worth making and I'm immensely grateful that I've had the luxury of being able to do it.
More soon once I've signed pieces of paper.....