So yesterday I left my job of 9 and a half years. Today I am the Director of Talentstorm Ltd. Running my own business is something I have always wanted to do. For the last few years I have both consciously and sub-consciously been moving towards this. When I knew changes were coming at work I knew this could be the opportunity to take redundancy and go it alone. To do exactly what was the question. In my profession, taking the consultancy route is a popular choice – I would have lots of competition from others that may be specialists in their fields. I was concerned that my experience as a generalist within the HR field would not be enough. A mentoring session provided a helpful challenge with the thought shared ‘generalists are underrated’. I immediately began to consider how I could make that my strength.
It was ultimately a long car-journey to Milton Keynes (long enough that my son would fall asleep) that I was able to process the final puzzle pieces to formulate my business plan. My strengths lie not just in delivery of traditional and non-traditional learning & development solutions, but in working with a business, understanding a customer’s needs, brokering the right solution and project managing through to delivery and outcomes. In addition to this I have an adept eye at coming up with new solutions and proposals, and have the ability to package and market these in a way that business customers understand what is on offer. This is what I have been doing for many years for internal customers, so not a huge leap to do this for external customers.
So that formed the essence of my business plan. Not to focus on simply getting consultancy work, (although that forms the important stage 1 of my start-up strategy, to get that all-essential cash-flow into the business), but to offer a broader range of solutions than my areas of expertise, drawing on associates to complete the delivery model. Having used and formulated great working relationships with suppliers over many years, this would be a natural and easy step to put in place.
The benefits for the customer are two-fold – I am not simply just another consultant, trying to push a solo offering, but rather a broker, between a customer and a broad range of specialists, so I can truly listen to the customer to understand their needs and come up with the best solution. The other advantage is with my experience of being the one to commission suppliers and knowing how to get the best from that relationship. Add to that my experience of transforming a function so it is at the cutting edge of digital solutions in HR and L&D terms, and I can add real value and insight.
The other challenge I had to work out was how to badge this model for the customer, how would I represent this broad offering – being more than just a narrow definition of traditional HR or training solutions. Talent Management is the latest parlance in the HR world to represent all the activities that can enhance an organisation’s people strategies. So that’s how the business name was derived – but more importantly using a Talent Management model will help represent my full business offering to my customers.
These last few months have been incredibly emotional, full of highs and lows – moving towards my decision to go it alone, whilst attempting to exit a job and a team I have loved and an organization I have been fully committed to.
At times I have been gripped by fear that I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills, but mostly my mind is racing with ideas and plans to make it work. Now the time has come I literally feel like I am on the ceiling, feeling incredibly empowered and liberated.
Most of all, however, I am grateful. Grateful to have this opportunity to fully express my skills and abilities through this venture, grateful to have had such a loyal team support me over the years in my last role, grateful for the mentor who asked me a couple of years ago where I want to be in 5 years time, grateful for bosses that have always let me do my own thing, and most importantly, grateful to all the family and friends who have listened to me as I have talked, cried, and talked my way through most of this year as I have been working my way through this big change.