Happy birthday to me!!!

This week I celebrate nine years in business – wow!! I still remember the complete exhilaration I felt when I quit my day job to become a consultant.

It’s still the best professional decision I’ve made. Sure there have been hard times. There always are. But the good times have far, far outweighed the bad.

To commemorate my nine years, I thought I’d tell you a few things that you might not know about me, and share a few things I’ve learnt over the last nine years in business. So. Here goes!

birthday

  1. My decision to start consulting came about a little more quickly than I anticipated. I knew it was what I wanted to do, but thought it would be something I would start in my mid-late 40s. Not my mid-30s! However I hated my job, couldn’t find one I liked, so took the leap. I’m forever grateful to the HR manager who said he didn’t understand why I wanted to work part-time when I didn’t have kids as it meant I lost my security blanket of a part-time income. Although I still think he chose the wrong career.
  2. I’m incredibly grateful to my family and friends for supporting me, especially The Accountant. We had a huge mortgage when I chucked in my job, so it was a big leap of faith from him. However while he said he would support me fully, that apparently didn’t extend to doing my tax. When I handed him that first shoe-box of receipts and said “here honey, can you please sort out my tax”, he said “er, no. I don’t do tax”. Until then I didn’t know accountants did anything else. Silly me.
  3. More than ever I have learnt to go with my gut when making business decisions. And when making any decisions really. If it is screaming at me – either good or bad, but mostly about bad – then Listen. To. It. If it’s saying “this person is dodgy”, then they probably are. And if your gut screams at you regarding ANYTHING to do with your health, then get it checked out. If I didn’t listen to my gut screaming at me about a dodgy spot, I would probably be dead due to melanoma. You can read about that horrible life experience here, and an update here.
  4. Many of you know that I’m a chicken mummy to Harriet, Moneypenny, Thelma and Louise. These girls help keep me sane on the days I’m at home and too busy to go anywhere. Yes, they talk back! Did you know there are a lot of expressions that come from chickens? Henpecked, hatch an idea, pecking order, rule the roost, don’t count your chickens before they hatch, head down bum up (those little fluffy bums are so cute!), and so many more! Thelma and Louise are new editions to our flock, and I have seen a lot of henpecking and the pecking order going on lately! A bit like some organisations where I have worked…
  5. One of the most important aspects of being in business is learning how to listen. I’ve always been good at talking, but over the last nine years I like to think I have become even better at listening.
  6. Never forget that people do business with people. Focus on the relationships you have and show empathy to those you come in contact with. You don’t need to be friends with everyone, but it doesn’t hurt anyone to be friendly.
  7. Have a spirit of generosity. I’ve always believed in karma. Do good things to others (without expectation) and good things will happen to you. The reverse is also true. I see this more and more, both in my life and the lives of others. I’m comfortable with the knowledge that people who treat me like crap will have that karma come back to them, and I’ve seen it often. The reverse is also true. Be kind. Be generous. Be nice. Be grateful. It’s not that hard.
  8. Shitty things that happen in life make you stronger. Over the last nine years The Accountant has been made redundant, my parents died unexpectedly within a year of each other, I struggled with trying not to have a complete emotional breakdown, I had melanoma. Then there were all the little things in life that make you ask “why me?”. Each of these awful events taught me that I have an inner strength I didn’t know I had. All of these big shitty things made me reevaluate my life, focus on what’s important, and (although it’s hard to believe) they all created opportunities. But mostly, all of these events brought me closer to my family and strengthened so many friendships and relationships. My clients during my year of hell were remarkable. I’ll be forever grateful.
  9. Food and travel are two of the things that make me happiest. I share many of these over on my blog The cook’s notebook. Some incredible opportunities have come my way over the years, and I try and say yes to them all. The latest is that I have been asked to lead a Gourmet Trails South Africa tour with Encompass Africa in 2016. I think I said yes before they finished asking the question!

Finally, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past nine years. My clients, everyone who has referred me work, my family and friends, The Accountant, everyone who I’ve worked with – graphic designers, printers, web people, lawyers, accountants. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

What have you learnt over the last nine years? And how has your world changed in that time? I would love to hear.

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