Where do you start when you want to take the plunge from employee to self-employed?

dog glassesSo you’ve decided you want to take the plunge from employee to self-employed. But where do you start?

This is a question that comes up fairly regularly so I thought I’d share the steps I took, which  might be useful to you.

When you’re totally responsible for bringing home the bacon – it takes lashings of self belief and trust in your own capabilities to successfully take the plunge.

Even as an associate or freelancer working with a consultancy, where the marketing is done for you, and there’s a flow of work, it’s not necessarily frequent, regular, or well paid work.

10 years ago, when I made the move to start my teambuilding, coaching, amd training business, I remember feeling terrified and excited at the same time. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a diving board, wondering if I should jump and whether I would sink or swim! A few coaching sessions later, I handed in my notice, waved bye bye to my 17 year NHS career and made the leap. I spent the next two weeks frantically trying to find work!!

Unless you’re a crazy risk taker, you don’t have to go for a ‘big leap’, or ‘take the plunge’. When you’re moving from being employed to self- employed, you can make the transition gradually, one step at time.

A good friend of mine, Caroline Talbott, seasoned coach and author, told me that she started the transition 10 years before she made the move . She used the time paving the way for success by talking to other people who worked for themselves, and meeting people who might potentially give her work further down the line. She’s shares this in her book (in which my story is also featured 😉 ) called Essential Career Transition Coaching Skills

These are the steps I took:

  1. Become self-employed – In April 2007 I left full time employment- with no business skills, no tech skills, or any other useful stuff you might need to run a business!
  2. Set up the business: The most common choices here are to set yourself up as a Limited Company or Sole Trader. You can do this online at HMRC. It’s also a good idea to find a good accountant…ask around for recommendations from other business people. Working as a coach you will also need professional indemnity and public liability insurance. It’s worth shopping around for this as rates and cover vary. This year I’ve found a good rate and cover with Oxygen Insurance .
  3. Find work. Use your network. Tell everyone about your new venture. Make some phone calls to key people. Use your skills and knowledge. I spent the first 2 weeks of self-employment scanning the Health Service Journal for jobs! I had left full time work before I was fully qualified to coach and didn’t have a clue what I was going to do to pay the mortgage (crazy risk taker!). I figured that if push came to shove I could start a ‘Dog Related Business’ or something similar to keep the wolf from the door. (I’ve been asked to train other people’s dogs for income, and I used to take a class at a local dog club, but I prefer to just train my own dogs. This may sound like a frivolous waste of time but I have a really good reason for it other than just wanting to. More on that later! ) Fortunately I managed to secure a role as a Management Consultant in a hospital where I had worked before and where people knew me from my 17 year’s NHS background. I was contracted to work 4 days a week, as an interim manager, a similar role to my old job, but from a self-employed perspective. I gradually reduced my hours as my coaching work grew.
  4. Coach Training: I did my coach training alongside my consultancy work, and I contracted and coached my practise clients as if they were paying clients. Act As If!
  5. First Corporate Coaching Contract. Keep links with former colleagues and employers. My first paid coaching contract was with the NHS – coaching doctors at the end of their training to help them prepare for leadership roles. This came about from a couple of phone calls with key people from my previous life.
  6. Lift off. Within 18 months I had stopped the management consultancy work and continued working with the NHS, coaching doctors and facilitating leadership development programmes as an associate member of faculty for The Wessex Deanery. I was also running my private coaching practice, and designing and delivering Coaching and Leadership Programmes for my other organisational clients.

So that’s how I did it. I’ve spent the last ten years exploring and sharing Executive Coaching, NLP, Clean Language, Leadership, coaching successful professionals to achieve their potential, and training other Coaches to do the same. I’ve had the privilege and joy of impacting thousands of people over the years.

I don’t beleive there is a single ‘right’ way to make the shift, but whatever steps you choose to take, flexibility, expeimenting, reflecting, adaptability, keeping links with former colleagues and employers were my keys to success.

And you’re not done yet. There’s other stuff to do, but I think this post is long enough. .

What’s your story? 

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.


Published by Angela Watson

I write and talk about the stuff that's inspired my own journey so far, the lessons I’ve learned, and the insights I’ve seen that have made a difference to the way I live and the lives of others. I have a penchant for wonky cottages, modern rustic interiors, and golden retrievers. I also run a training and development consultancy www.angelawatsoncoaching.com, and I'm the founder of The Tree Shirt Project - supporting global reforestation, one Tree Shirt at a time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s