Reflecting on my first six months as a co-founder, if someone had told me a year ago that I’d be running my own business with a longtime colleague and loving every moment of it, I might have been shocked enough to fall off my chair.
Leaving my previous job, I initially wanted to take some time off with my daughter, and support her through her A Levels before she headed to Uni. I felt the need to reconnect as a parent since, despite being present, I had outsourced her childcare from 6 months, and now my little one was leaving the nest. Simultaneously, professionally, I felt a sense of accomplishment in my last role, and the desire for something new- an internal struggle I refer to as my ‘perfect storm’ or ‘perfect epiphany.’
Initially, my plan was to jump back into another significant corporate role. However, stepping out of that environment prompted me to reevaluate priorities. Money played a big role, especially in providing for my family. My husband and I were fortunate with well-paid jobs, and while the financial pressure has increased, our savings have proved invaluable during these past months.
Questions arose—how much money do we really need? What is enough? Once you’ve got the essentials covered like the mortgage and bills, plus kids, but they are not cheap are they! At least student loans has helped this year. So you start to make choices, and prioritise, which can’t be a bad thing. Although family holidays are still high on my priority list, those experiences are priceless.
Admittedly, there’s a lingering feeling of adjusting to not holding that prestigious corporate position, not having that CEO status. Yet anyone that knows me will know I never let power go to my head, and success is measured in so many other ways these days!
Surprisingly, I feel more connected to our industry and its people than ever before, and that feels good. Having the time to listen, understand, and make impactful connections and impact has been fulfilling.
My mantra has always been to make a difference, so I knew that in my next role I needed to be really clear on what I wanted to achieve, and as often things turn out, it was personal experience that led me to talking to Marco Bertozzi (my co-founder) about consultancy and where do people even start? My goal (post daughters A-Levels) was a big full-time gig so I didn’t want to put myself out there for projects and also if I am honest I didn’t want to look desperate, which is ridiculous, but as others will know, you go through a bit of a confidence crisis when you suddenly don’t have that security of a FT role anymore.
Anyway, Marco actually connected me with an amazing adtech company and I ended up doing some consultancy with their UK MD, and I loved it- the team were open to feedback, I felt I was making a difference, my fresh perspective gave them a new edge.
The experience was enlightening, however, I kept it under the radar. Yet there are more and more senior professionals in the marketplace looking for a different way to operate, and businesses are in great need of their wisdom and expertise, so why aren’t we more open and vocal about it, more proud and celebrate it.
At TheZoo.London, our mission is to change any latent stigma around independent consultancy, celebrating its value and making it easy for any business to tap into this wonderful pool of fractional senior advertising and marketing expertise in a streamlined and professional way, where and when they need it.
As I pen this blog six months into the journey, I recognise that my personal experience mirrors what many others in the industry are going through. The rollercoaster of emotions—One day you feel brave, the next you feel a little bit lost, another day you feel like you’ve been released and you’ve seen the light and you’ve got an opportunity to rethink and reshape your work life, the next you worry about money and providing for your family.
When I speak to consultants, I sense this mixture of emotions. The choice to be your own boss, to do your own consulting work, and follow your dreams is empowering. And I often quote Confucius ‘we have two lives and our second life begins the moment we realise we only have one’. When I first heard this quote, it really resonated with me, it gave me courage to believe that I was on a new path of working out what’s really important and being thankful.
Whatever situation you find yourself in 2024, commit to making the very best of your situation. The grass is never greener; you just need to water your grass regularly. Balancing your mind, body, soul, and heart is crucial, if one of these elements is off, your stability wobbles. Be intentional—whether it’s committing to your team, giving back, or figuring out what’s next.
And nurture your relationships; your close colleagues, family and friends. I couldn’t do any of this without my family, and I certainly would never have co-founded TheZoo.London without Marco, I am so glad that ‘we have each others backs’ and his relentless energy, innovation and commitment is unreal, and I’m grateful everyday.
Happy 2024, folks—go get it!