Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur.
It’s a bit like giving birth, or falling in love for the first time. You absolutely cannot forget it, and the experience changes you, imprints on you, and you can never fully turn your back on it ever again.
In this episode I discuss the pros and cons of returning to employment after 4 years as an entrepreneur.
Katherine Ann Byam is a best-selling author, sustainability activist, coach and consultant for business resilience and sustainable change, partnering with leaders committed to a shared future.”
A professional with 20+years change leadership experience in the FTSE Top 10, she started her consulting firm in 2019 to support sustainable development within SMEs. Katherine holds an MBA with distinction, specialising in Innovation Management as well as certificates in ESG, digital strategy, and sustainability management from established universities. She’s also a Fellow of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants.
She’s the host of the internationally acclaimed Where Ideas Launch – Sustainable Innovation Podcast, ranked among the top 5% globally, achieving the top spot in 5 countries, and the top 10 in 19 separate charts.
As a sought-after leadership and career transition coach and keynote speaker, she facilitates workshops and learning sessions for communities within global brands such as Amazon, Women Tech Global, ACCA, Stryker, Speak Up, Mind Channel and more.
She loves spending her spare time in nature, walking the western and southern coasts of the UK, France, and Tobago, or on the Northern and eastern coasts of Trinidad with her partner Christophe.
This is part 3 of my career journal, as I assess the pros and cons of this momentous transition.
5 Interviews down, and I still haven’t told you how they’ve been, and I will, I promise, but not yet, first I’ve got to talk a bit about your mental state as an entrepreneur who has decided to turn a corner for many valid reasons, but still, the act of looking for jobs fills you with a strong sense of concern about what you are giving up, so much so sometimes you forget what you are about to receive.
In 4 years of entrepreneurship, I’ve missed a few key aspects of working at a big multinational. I’ve missed the smoking pod/ coffee machine conversation. A rare moment in the day where you meet someone randomly and strike up a conversation; some of these conversations can even be game changers, or just simply precious moments that stay with you forever.
I’ve missed those precious moments I had with colleagues to collectively winge about your boss or your other colleagues to let off steam, because suddenly you are the one calling the shots, and let’s face it, winging about yourself isn’t all that fun.
I’ve also missed events, friendships, nights out, barbecues, but that’s been more of a problem of life post pandemic outbreak, than it is about life as an entrepreneur. More than 95% of my work since becoming an entrepreneur has taken place remotely. That’s a lot, and so in some ways I miss in person physical interactions.
I’m a hugger. I love hugs, giving them, receiving them, I’m into kisses too. In France they kiss 2, 3 or 4 times depending on the region, but it’s a light kiss, and a bit of a dance of heads. In Trinidad, and much of Latin America, a kiss and a hug is a BIG KISS. BISOUS not bises. BESOTE not beso. These are things I’ve been missing for more than 13 years if I’m being honest.
I miss high performing teams. These have admittedly been rare in my corporate life; but I have had them, particularly when I created them. This is something I still experience as a business owner, but it’s different with remote freelancers, than with an inhouse permanent team.
All of these things I can potentially have a gain when I return to employment, but what about what I’m giving up?
I came face to face with a few things I haven’t missed during a couple of interviews I’ve had recently.
- Is it about the business? Or is it about impact? Or a balance amongst those? I’ve been working for the past few years on the basis of positive impact being at least equal to profit on the scales of decision making. I’ve consumed voraciously the work of Paul Polman and Andrew Winston on their ideas in net positive, but these ideas are still yet to permeate the ranks of business professionals in many organisations. From one side, there is certainly opportunity; with so much change management yet to be done I can see myself becoming a champion and advocate of internal change. Yet at the same time, carbon tunnel vision is a difficult lens to break, and this will no doubt challenge me to dig very deep, to find the energy needed to sustain momentum for all that will be on the agenda for me potentially in a new role.
- Time flexibility. How many people today run side gigs alongside work? From volunteering, to lecturing, further studies, or actual income generating activity? I’m not a parent, and have no intentions of becoming one, and as such my side projects are a bit like my children. I have two podcasts which I love doing – they are an act of give and take for me: I learn tremendously by doing them, and I also give back by sharing educational and motivational stories with others. I’m not sure whether or not all organisations are ready for this level of activation behind a purpose in their teams; yet to be seen.
- Meetings. I have 3 days in my work week where no clients or prospects are allowed to book meetings. I do accommodate meetings with my freelancer teams on occasion on these days, and some networking meetings, but only the types of meetings where I can be pretty much myself, and not necessarily “on brand”. That’s been an important structure to my work week, and so far, it hasn’t appeared possible to preserve even one of these on my return to “employed” work.
- Perspective. I have a privilege that comes from being an entrepreneur. I’ve worked on literally every aspect of my business, and I know how it does or does not come together. I also know how challenging it is to build a business with no team, and then to build it with a freelancer team. Most of my co-workers will not have that perspective, and things that I say/ insights that I have can be entirely lost on them if I’m not careful.
Let’s be honest. Anyone of these 4 will be real tangible challenges to overcome. The main question is – Will the stability I seek, and the ability to leverage even more change than on my personal platform alone be worth the change?
Tune in next week as we go deeper into the transition journey.