New shoots

Five months ago, I made the decision to set up sprout. As I sit and reflect on the last five months, it seems the perfect subject for my first blog post. 

So many of us dream about working for ourselves but we don’t for so many reasons – ‘not the right time’, ‘can’t afford it’, ‘don’t know how’ or we simply lack confidence in our own ability.

For the last few years, I’ve been considering setting up sprout but kept making these excuses. So, what changed? Absolutely nothing but I’d got to a point in my life that deep down I knew it’s what I wanted to do and if I didn’t do it now, I don’t think I ever would. I made the decision after I had been to a couple of interviews with a really interesting company. I got on well with the ambitious management team, the company had great values and the role offered lots of opportunity – but I had that niggle. That was the point when I knew the pull of working for myself and helping business owners was going to over-rule any excuses I had. 

It’s not the first time I’ve taken the plunge though. 10 years before I quit my job just before I got married (don’t think my husband-to-be had factored that in when he popped the question!). I’d been inspired by an entrepreneur I’d worked for previously and had been working on an idea to build a one-stop-shop website for business professionals who didn’t have time to spend on forums. I called it nofreetime.com. I’d started working on it a year before I resigned but long working hours meant that progress was slow. To launch the site, I needed to work on it full-time, but I wasn’t brave enough to believe in the idea and told myself we couldn’t afford for me to leave my job. And that’s when destiny intervened…….in a nasty form called ‘burn out’. 

It was horrible to have to experience it, but the burn out was nature’s way of saying ‘stop……take back control of your life.’ My next year was amazing (not just married life!). I loved the variety of setting up my own business, designing a website, writing content and teaching myself how to do SEO - achieving 40,000 visitors a month as a result. I was working long hours, but I loved every minute of it because I was working for myself. 

Unfortunately, nofreetime.com was short lived – a combination of google algorithm changes and getting pregnant were just a couple of the hurdles I faced. When repeated hacks took down the website server, I felt it was a sign to give up. Maybe I shouldn’t have given up – but I just didn’t have the passion for it anymore and my gut instinct told me it was time to get a proper job. 

My burn out had broken me emotionally and I had got to the point that I hated my job so much that I thought I’d never work in a finance role ever again. Special thanks to John Lewis Partnership Services for helping me get back on track. If it wasn’t for my contract role with them, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

I’ve worked with a range of owner managed businesses for the last 15 years and I’ve become very fond of them. There is nothing more rewarding than working with business owners to help them achieve their aspirations. They haven’t been my businesses, but I’ve lived and breathed them as if they were. I experienced their ups and downs and felt their pain.……. Their passion, entrepreneurship and sense of purpose is infectious and been a major inspiration for me and the driving force behind sprout.

Business owners need support at all stages in their business – personally and professionally and they need the right support that can adapt to their needs. I founded sprout because I realised that a lot of businesses don’t have that support or simply use bookkeepers and accountants for transactional and compliance work. I felt an over-whelming desire to offer more to help start-ups and small businesses.  I wanted to provide a cost-effective flexible service that could provide businesses with the right level of experience and support they need as they grow. That’s when I realised, I’d found my purpose. 

I’m incredibly passionate about our new business venture. It’s going to be hard work and I’m sure I’ll doubt myself on more than one occasion, but just the thought of helping business owners to achieve their aspirations is really exciting. 

New shoots for the business and new shoots for me.