Posted in Thoughts

Resettlement lessons

After a couple of weeks out of uniform (and with other people suddenly starting their resettlement – looking at you Davina!) I thought this would be a good time to reflect on what I have learnt from the process.

1. Planning. Do it. Do more of it. And keep on doing it. I was sporadic in the planning of my courses which meant that at times I have been faced with conflicting courses and not enough time to do both. Keep on looking at it.

2. Use all your resources. I feel like I’ve done this. I’ve done lots of courses and did my last day in work at a good time. (Plus, managed to luck in on some of the most gorgeous weather we are likely to get this year!)

3. Plan individual resettlement preparation days straight after core workshops. For instance, I did my Focus@4 (the course that refreshes some of the CTW themes at 4 months before leaving date. Mine actually got cancelled but ended up with an individual 1:1 with a career consultant so that worked out well) and then wanted to spend time changing my CV on the back of the advice I had been given. But I hadn’t scheduled any time away from the office and ended up not being able to do anything for about a week. It is much better to do something immediately, when it is fresh in your brain.

4. Keep the pressure off – but accept you’ll probably feel some. I kept having waves of what I called ‘The Fear’. Every now and again, I would be unexpectedly hit by a wave of feeling incredibly daunted and afraid of the fact I would be in a position without a regular pay check (aside from my pension). When this struck I would be tempted to find a job – ANY job – that would give me a regular income and a sense of identity. I think this went away about a fortnight before my last day in uniform (but who knows – it could be just lurking for me to have a down day!)

5. Keep remembering that most people do a second career transition two years after their first. Therefore you need to remember to keep some resources aside for that (perhaps one of your ELCs) as well as some ideas! Also, if there is a course that you quite like the idea of during your resettlement, don’t worry if it doesn’t go directly to your initial transition goal. It could come in handy later.

6. Network!! I got business cards printed quite early on, with the details of the blog. I just wanted a card that didn’t have military details. I have met so many people and recently re-connected with many people on LinkedIn. Be open-minded about what people can offer you – and about what you can offer them.

7. Give back. Now that I have a bit more time (albeit not a huge amount) I am seeing how I can help out a bit more at the Young Women’s Trust that seeks to help disadvantaged women between 16 and 30.  If you think you might be able to help too, please do get in touch 😉

Any other tips you guys have for resettling?  I’ll check back in soon to talk about what I’m learning about life as a civilian and working from home.

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Posted in Interview

Forever Living, Forever Rachel!

vickihead-181So far I have profiled women running businesses full-time. Today’s profile is a little different as Rachel is currently juggling a full time career in the RAF, with 2 children and running a business for Forever Living. How did that come about? 

Forever Living isn’t actually a franchise per se, there are no joining fees, no annual fees and you don’t pay a percentage of everything you earn to the company; you don’t pay anything to them in fact. All you do is pay for a box of products to start your business with and the aim is to start using them yourself, enabling you to recommend them to people with credibility. As for how it came about, it was rather unexpected to be honest and if you had told me I would be involved in network marketing I would have told you that was a crazy idea, and that I didn’t even know what it was. I’d been thinking a lot in the last couple of years about what I would do on leaving the RAF and I had concluded two things that I wanted to take forward from my RAF career; helping people and managing projects. Over the same period of time I had been watching a friend, via Facebook, set up her Forever Living business and after she had her little girl and subsequent maternity leave, she was able to justify not going back to her full-time marketing manager job because of her Forever business. I was quite frankly jealous that she had a flexible option that allowed her to do that, and whilst it was my choice to remain in the RAF after having children, it made me realise that I also craved ultimate flexibility in my post-RAF career. I chatted to her about it, went to a business presentation and two days later I became a Business Owner!

Once your mindset is in the right place the self-belief follows and the difference is really noticeable to other people and noticeable to your profits.

Did you choose to do something and then find Forever Living, or was it the products that attracted you? 

The products were secondary to be honest, at least in the very beginning. The time flexibility and uncapped income potential were what drew me in. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the products as well because they are high quality, very effective and the ethics behind the company are very strong, including absolutely no testing on animals.

What does a typical day for you look like? 

A typical day is pretty busy to be fair. I’m first in the bathroom and if I’ve been organised (which doesn’t always happen) then clothes for both girls are already ready, as are packed lunches and dinners for both of them. Hubby (also RAF) is very hands-on and helps get them ready when he’s here. We aim to be out the door by 7.30am, with mixed success, and I drop the girls with our childminder who is a massive support to our family and helps make it all possible. The working day is 8-5 (although sometimes til a lot later) and I almost always work through lunch, although more and more of that lunchtime working is spent on progressing my business! I leave work between 5.15 and 5.30 and collect the girls who have fortunately already been fed their dinner. Then it’s home to do homework (for the eldest), have pudding, playtime, bath time and then stories and bedtime. When hubby is home he does most of the cooking so dinner is often ready when I’ve finished the bedtime routine. After that there will inevitably be the dishwasher and the never-ending washing pile and I will also focus on my business in between, including watching webinar training sessions, retailing the products, looking for new team members to join me, doing product launches at people’s houses and regularly attending our local business presentation. Every 8 weeks or so I also have a 4,500 word assignment to submit for my masters degree in Logistics Management, I also sleep somewhere in there as well! Things could get even more interesting when I have to write my 20,000 word dissertation!

you really do get out what you put in with this business so it’s important to touch your business in some way every day, to be consistent.

What have been the biggest challenges so far? 

Effective time management and self-belief! It’s amazing the difference a positive mindset can make, and it did take me a little while to get there. I always knew I would have a finite amount of time I could devote to Forever while I’m still working full-time but it’s easy to make excuses that you’re too busy and then your business suffers; you really do get out what you put in with this business so it’s important to touch your business in some way every day, to be consistent. Once your mindset is in the right place the self-belief follows and the difference is really noticeable to other people and noticeable to your profits.

Is there anything that you thought would be difficult, but has actually worked out better than you thought?

One thing immediately strikes me as being better than I thought and it’s not something I particularly thought would be difficult but something I’ve been conditioned to believe I’m not worthy of; and that’s recognition! I have a very strong work ethic, I always work incredibly hard and give it my all; going the extra mile is the norm for me. That has consistently not been enough for the RAF to give me any kind of formal recognition and after 15 years you shrink your dreams and sense of self-worth to fit. Forever Living have consistently been awarded Investors In People Gold for at least 10 years now and I can see why. You are given so much support and training, and you are given public recognition for every small step of achievement in your Forever journey; it’s amazing the difference that makes.

It’s quite frankly a revelation to know that I can earn whatever I set my mind to, and no-one can tell me I’m not good enough or that I’m not eligible; if I put the work in the results will come!

From your Facebook posts, I can see that you have great plans for 2016 – anything you can tell us about at this stage? 

Essentially I have plans to achieve a number of promotions on the marketing plan and to match, or at least get close to, my current income so that my income doesn’t drop when I leave the RAF. Promotions on the marketing plan are achieved with focus and effort and everyone has exactly the same opportunity; it’s just what you do with it that makes the difference. It’s quite frankly a revelation to know that I can earn whatever I set my mind to, and no-one can tell me I’m not good enough or that I’m not eligible; if I put the work in the results will come!

You seem to have a good team that you are part of. How important is that? 

The team spirit is incredible, which for me does have strong echoes of how it is in the RAF but is even better within Forever. Everyone is self-employed and it is a supportive network as you’re not really competing with anyone except yourself; you can out earn anyone in your upline or downline which is what makes it so fair. There is also a great sense of helping each other and a lot of voluntary mentoring goes on from more experienced team members which is invaluable. This business is all about helping people, whether it’s helping customers with their health and well being, or helping and coaching your team members to build their own successful businesses; just by getting them to replicate the tried and tested model that you’re using yourself.Plant_Product_You2

What advice would you give anyone else looking to start a from an established business?

I would tell anyone to consider Forever; even if they decide it’s not for them. It’s a proven market and business model that has been in operation for 38 years and is still growing. It’s also a great way to start your own business and be your own boss, without any of the start up costs you would ordinarily associate with setting up your own business. It’s perfectly possible to build a full-time income working it part-time around existing commitments, and I look forward to the day when Forever and family are all I need to focus on, in a way that is balanced to suit what I want, enabling me to do the school run every day and never having to miss another school play, event or special moment.

Thanks Rachel.  I have to say here that I have to rave about 2 Forever Living products.  I love the Vanilla protein shake powder.  My favourite quick breakfast is some of that mixed up with almond milk, spinach and blueberry (although a close second is new contender almond milk, spinach, avocado, apple and blueberry!).  It also makes a great post-exercise refuel, which is particularly important to me in my triathlon training.  The second product is the Aloe Heat Lotion.  I’ve never got on with deep heat or anything like that because my skin is really sensitive, but this heat lotion is amazing.  I use it when my (previously injured) shoulder is playing up and it makes a massive different.  I have also used it all week skiing (yes, me, skiing!  I’m still amazed I didn’t break anything!) and it’s been great.  If folks out there want to try some, how do they get in touch?

Come and have a look at my Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/naturalsparklesinternational/.

So there you have it.  I’m in awe of someone doing full-time work and running a business on the side (and looking after kids!).  Hope it’s given some of you food for thought.  Until next time, happy venturing x.

 

 

I’ve alwaySaying nos been someone who finds it hard to say no. I think lots of people have this problem and it stems from a number of issues. Sometimes it is about not wanting to appear rude.  Sometimes it is about fear of missing out on an opportunity.  Sometimes it is just so ingrained within us to say yes, that the idea of saying no doesn’t appear until you have already agreed to something that, on reflection, you would have preferred not to.

Saying no there would have saved me an awful lot of energy.

I’ve been working on my ability to say no a lot more over the last few months.  Having so much on with so little spare time means that I have had to be more ruthless in what I commit to doing.  I’ve also been reflecting on some previous experiences where I’ve said yes on the basis of that adage ‘you only regret opportunities you don’t take’.  Well, I can say that, for me, that’s not true.  I once took a job because I was asked to do it.  I was really flattered to have been asked and even though it wasn’t particularly a job that I had been that interested in, I took it.  Because I thought I would regret it if I didn’t.  I learnt from that experience.  The job took a lot out of me and, on reflection, didn’t give enough back.  Saying no there would have saved me an awful lot of energy.  Rather than regret that, I’ve tried to use the experience to give me more confidence in saying no.

Now I’m in the process of leaving one job, setting up both a business and a consultancy, relocating to Lincolnshire in June, training for my first Olympic distance triathlon (also in June) as well as all the standard being a mum thing!  Recently I was asked to do a book review for a special Summer edition of Air Power Review, to write an article for Britethink (which aims to connect people to opportunities in entrepreneurship, career advice, education and much more) as well as take on a franchise.  I think in the past I would have said yes to them all, even though I would be feeling quite frazzled about getting it all done.  Instead, I’ve politely declined (for now) the franchise opportunity.  The book review I finished yesterday and I’m putting the final touches on the article today before sitting back and enjoying a well-earned break!

For those that need a bit more help in learning to say no, I loved this short article from Career Girl Daily (a great blog that is really easy to read).  In the meantime, I hope you are all relaxing over the remains of the Easter eggs and enjoying some time to yourself.

Happy venturing, peeps x

The fine art of saying no

Posted in Thoughts

Flu

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I am recovering (nearly recovered) from flu.  I spent a whole day being unable to move from the sofa, which is interesting when you have sole charge of a 3 year old who really does need outdoor activity.  I discovered it is entirely possible to play junior Monopoly just dangling one arm off the sofa, especially when you don’t care enough to count the money out properly.

But now I am beginning to feel better again, I am in the process of my next steps!  I’ve just registered my company name through Companies House (which costs just £15 so please be aware of the scammy type sites that will charge you up to £90 to register!  Don’t even attempt it through anything other than the gov.uk site).  I’m now trying to find someone to do the logo and website.  Whilst I could probably do at least the website myself, it makes no sense at all for me to spend a couple of weeks doing something myself that someone else could do in about 2 hours.  Yes, it will require money up front, but I think it is a wise investment.  I have a friend of a friend that I hope to engage for this work, but if you have any recommendations, please let me know.  On the Self Employment workshop, one of the recommendations for this kind of work was via Fiverr which is a US version of peopleperhour where you pay for specific jobs.  The US version is low paid, typically $5 per job.  My first thought was ewwwww.  That just feels exploitative.  And why would I go to the US for work that can be done in my own country?  And that’s when I realised that regardless of not having a lot of things ready for my company, I already have an ethos which will be built into the brand. I am NOT going to exploit people even if I need to source things inexpensively.

Anyway, back to my company.  I’m keeping the name under wraps until my Companies House registration is fully confirmed and my domain name is sorted, but I can tell you a little about it.  My product line will comprise of bespoke baby and children quilts, including keepsake quilts made from favourite babygrows and other clothes, keepsake toys made from first sleepsuits, craft kits to make your own projects ranging from small make-up bags to quilts, bags (galore, from make-up bags to hand bags), cushions and bunting.  I’ve been lucky enough to get my dibs on some gorgeous materials from a friend of a friend who runs an interior design business.  I can’t wait to get sewing with the velvets that are going to make the most luxurious cushions.  I may not want to sell them!  I also bought 9 metres of divine purple shot silk which I am going to use for dressmaking.  I’m not sure my dress making skills are up to scratch enough to sell but I’m certainly looking forward to making something for myself.  As usual, my problem is having the time to turn all of my dreams and doodles into reality!  However, hubby returns today after 6 months away so once we are back to normal at B-R Towers, my little sewing machine won’t know what’s hit it!  And next week, more work on Learning and Development Consultancy stuff including the long overdue CV re-write.  I hope everything is similarly productive for all you out in Venture Land.  Let me know how you’re getting on by leaving a comment or dropping me a line on venturingforavocation@outlook.com.  Happy Venturing x

Posted in Thoughts

The week ahead

imageThis week is quite exciting for me.  The day begins with me preparing for a meeting with a Learning and Development Consultant.  I’m hoping to pick her brains on a number of issues, not least is it worth doing a L&D qualification when I have a Masters in Occupational Psychology?  It would take up one of my Enhanced Learning Credits, which is not a problem.  The issue is more that the one I’m looking at is home learning over a year and I’m not sure how that would fit in with everything else.   The day ends with a Skype call about a potential opportunity with someone else’s online business.  Then on Wednesday I have the Self Employment Awareness Workshop which I think will really help with me focussing on my next steps for my own business.  I also hope by the end of the week to know a bit more about our (possible) relocation which will definitely help me know where to look for jobs, what markets I can aim at and whether I will be spending weeks of the summer preparing for a move.  So it’s all go here in VentureLand, the sun is shining and I’m feeling positive.  Happy Monday everyone x

Posted in Thoughts

Job Applications pt 2

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I submitted my first job application in 20 years last week.  It was for a part time fixed term Research Assistant in the Psychology Department at a University close to where we might be moving.  It was a  more nerve wracking process than I had thought it would be.  What did I learn?

  • Time.  I found out about the job with a short-ish amount of time prior to the deadline.  With everything else that I juggle, it was really important that I set time aside to do the application.
  • Read the whole application.  As I had set time aside, I was in a position to go through the whole application process before having to start it.  That meant although I was initially thrown by the length of it, I knew what I was dealing with in terms of how long it was going to take.  Clue: much longer than you might otherwise think.
  • Analyse the advert.  There were specific skills and attributes requested within the advert and others that were alluded to in the Job Description.  I used these to model my answers around so that the application was very specific to the job.
  • Use your old appraisals.  By using my old appraisals, I was able to write about my employment history in a much more tailored and specific manner.  For instance, I found an example about having improved training output by up to 300% in some areas.  Would I have remembered that level of detail without the appraisal?  Highly doubtful.
  • Use your network.  I asked for help from two of my lovely friends; one of whom is responsible for selecting Civil Servants at an organisation I used to work for and the other is a career consultant and we did our Masters together.  Between the two I received some really useful, timely and specific feedback.

And finally…..

  • Don’t lose heart.  I just got feedback today that I haven’t been selected for an interview.  I asked for individual feedback and was told that the message from the Chair of the Panel was: that there was nothing notably ‘wrong’ with the application you submitted so she could not offer any individual feedback. However, the panel received a large number of extremely high quality applications, and those selected for interview simply had more experience relevant to the position than those that were not shortlisted. 

Obviously I’d rather be closing the blog post with a more positive story, but I got a lot out of the process of applying for the job.  In all honesty, it was unlikely that I would have been able to make any reasonable start date due to relocation (which I still don’t know any details of) so there was a good chance this would have been a job I would have been unable to take, even if I had been offered it.  But it still would have been nice to have gone for an interview.  Never mind, onwards and upwards.  Next week I do my Self Employment Awareness Workshop and will finally register my company name.  More on that next week.

Happy venturing xx