Just over three years ago I made a decision to change my life.
I took a chance on something new and ventured into a world I knew nothing about.
I didn’t know if it was the right thing to do, I didn’t know if I had the skills required, I didn’t know if it would work.
But something in my life needed to change and this seemed like the break I had been searching for.
As a single parent I had always worked and it wasn’t easy juggling a job with children, as any working parent will be very well aware of.
I had taken the decision to become self employed when my youngest had started school as there were no jobs that I could find which were in line with school hours, which was the only time I could work. My jobs pre-children were in retail management, in which I had a successful fifteen year career. However the weekend working and start and finish times were not sustainable with two young children so it wasn’t an option to return to that field.
It began almost by accident when friend asked me if I knew anyone who could clean her house, I offered and before long I had built up a solid base of customers. I worked as many hours as possible and soon the cleaning moved into other areas. Clearing clutter and organising peoples homes, odd jobs, decorating, I did it all.
I loved what I was doing and took immense pride in transforming the homes of my customers.
Helping people to enjoy their homes again when they had either lost the time or motivation to keep on top of this kind of stuff themselves made my customers happy, which in turn made me happy! I liked making a difference to people’s lives and seeing people smiling.
There was one slight hitch with my growing business though, or rather my capability to keep up with the work.
Both of my children have their own very unique set of additional needs and being both mum and dad meant that the demands on my time were huge.
When one or both of my children were having a tough time with their particular issues it meant that I had to let my customers down. It was not something which I enjoyed doing and would feel incredibly guilty when I had to cancel my visits to clean their homes. Some people were very understanding of my situation, others not so much.
I became unreliable, in both their eyes and mine.
My daughters medical problems were reaching a crescendo and we spent lots of time as guests at our local hospital as she underwent various tests and trials of medication. She was extremely poorly and was not well enough to attend school very often during the times we weren’t in hospital.
As every mum knows, when a child is feeling ill they just want to be with you 24/7 and I had to prioritise her needs, despite the fact that not working meant not earning any money.
My son was not without his fair share of problems as school became increasingly tough for him. The ‘one size fits all’ education system was proving to be a constant source of torment for him and the schools refusal to acknowledge his Autism and special needs were wildly apparent.
He spent less and less time at school and more and more time at home, which meant yet more demands on my time and reduced working hours once more.
At this time I was also caring for my older brother. A kind hearted, generous and talented individual who has physical disabilities along with mental illness.
I tried so hard for so long to be everything, to everyone.
To give my brother the care he needed and to try and make his life better by doing thing with him that weren’t just about routine medical appointments.
To be there when my children needed me, to give them the attention that they needed and to cater as best I could to their different circumstances.
To go to my customers homes on the days and times they required and to give my very best efforts in everything that I did for them.
To say I was exhausted was an understatement, my life was a hectic whirlwind of trying to maintain all the various elements which made up my life.
I suffered with migraines through stress which at their worst left me confined to my bed for days and needing emergency medical care. I had always had the odd migraine but during this time of my life they were rampant and knocked me sideways with increasing ferocity.
Then one day, totally out of the blue I felt something ‘pop’ in my lower back. It was the start of months of agony, scans, medication and physio as a disc had decided to explode itself and find its resting place against my sciatic nerve.
I could barely walk, driving was almost impossible, as was sitting, standing, laying, literally everything that I had to do became unbearable due to the extreme pain I was in.
I had no other choice than to work as much as I could because I needed the money. I had a mortgage and bills to pay, children to clothe and feed, not working was not an option for me.
I was told in no uncertain terms by my consultant that it was imperative that I find alternative work, that what I was doing was the worst possible choice I could make for my health.
But I couldn’t find the illusive office based job that required me to only work school hours during the week and that would give me the flexibility that I needed to ferry my brother to all his appointments, not forgetting the fact that the situations with both of my children that I had to somehow factor in.
So I carried on working, cleaning, decorating, dosing myself up with very strong medications to get through the day. Car journeys would take twice their usual time because I had to stop every five or ten minutes when the pain from sitting was so bad that I had to find somewhere to pull over and haul myself out of the car for a few minutes to gain a little relief.
And so it continued, I did my very best in some dire circumstances, half-heartedly looking for other ways to earn money that would tick the many boxes that I needed to fill.
Nothing appeared and I had pretty much given up hope of ever finding anything. Whilst knowing that I needed things to change the reality was that I couldn’t ever see anything being any different.
On 28th June 2017 I met with a long lost friend, someone who had been my best friend at primary school. We had lost touch some thirty years ago and I had become quite nervous about seeing her again after all this time. I had held her up on a pedestal and felt inferior to her in many ways, whilst also having great admiration for her.
I didn’t know that what she would show me that evening would be the catalyst I had been searching for to turn my life around.
I wasn’t expecting that by the end of the evening I would have a new business interest.
We spent hours catching up on the various goings on in both of our lives over the last thirty years and it took some time before we got round to talking business, which was the initial purpose of her visiting me.
My friend explained how I could save money on my household bills and it was a very appealing prospect. Spending less meant I would have to worry less about what money I was bringing in so I welcomed what she had to tell me about.
Then she went onto explain that I could start a business helping other people to save money too. It involved sitting and chatting to people and filling in an online form. No toilets to clean, not floors to scrub, no ladders to climb, simply just sitting, talking and swiping through a few screen on an electronic device.
Yes, I can do that I thought! We discussed it further and when I found out that this was a business I could fit around all my other commitments, with no targets set upon me, no one telling what to do and that I could set my own hours it sounded just what I had been fruitlessly searching for over the last few years.
So I took a chance and decided that I really had nothing to lose in giving this a go.
I had no idea if I would be any good at what I was embarking on but with a tenacity which has always served me well I jumped in with both feet to see if I could make this fit into my life. If it did it would mean that I could actually abide by the medical advice I had been given and preserve my dodgy back!
It took me around three hours to learn what I needed to in order to get started, I just had to watch some short video clips, everything was done for me and I knew that once I had run through the online parts a few times I would know what I was doing.
My friend helped me with the first few people that I spoke to about my new business and I was surprised at just how seamless the process was. I was helping people save money, I wasn’t asking them to spend money on things they didn’t really need, but saving them money on the stuff they were already paying over the odds for.
I liked being able to help people in this way, just like my friend had helped me. The more people I spoke to, the more people I showed my new business to, the more my confidence grew. I met other people who had started out just like me, who had been looking for another way to earn a little extra money.
When just six months later my boiler decided to go bang in the night, rollover and die the very same week the temperatures dropped to below freezing I began to take my new business seriously for the first time. I suddenly had the need to bring in quite a substantial amount of money in order to purchase a new boiler and have it fitted. All two weeks before Christmas, on top of finding the money for presents for my children and having the money for Turkey and all the trimmings!
I began reaching out to people who I hadn’t yet told about my new business, turns out most people would like to pay as little as possible for their bills so they have more money for the nice things in life, like holidays, meals out and shopping sprees. Much more exciting that seeing your money disappear on your electricity bill each month!
So I got to work and in my first ‘proper’ month working my business, albeit part time, I had earnt the money I needed for my new boiler! I couldn’t believe it! I had actually ‘worked’ around twelve hours, but to me it didn’t feel like work as it was merely sitting and chatting with people and I love talking!
I felt like I wasn’t working ‘hard enough’ to be able to earn the money that began dropping into my bank account. Surely being paid this much to just sit and talk to people was too good to be true! It would have taken me a whole month of cleaning to have earnt the same amount of money I had been paid for just those twelve hours spent chatting with people!
It was then that I realised this wasn’t about working harder, it was about working smarter. I had been trading my time for money, earning an hourly rate, as is true in most regular jobs. This was something entirely different. I discovered that I could get paid more for doing less hours, it was a revelation!
I had lost a lot of my regular customers because of the amount of time I had to devote to my children and their requirements so I began putting just a few more hours into my new business instead. Within a short space of time I was able to finally relieve myself of the cleaning and decorating work which was so damaging to my bad back. I felt incredibly lucky that I had stumbled across my new venture when I had pretty much given up hope of finding an alternative way of working.
However if was pointed out to me that this wasn’t a case of luck, this had only happened because I had taken an opportunity that was available to me and I had made it work for me, for my life, for my little family unit.
In the three years and three months since I took that leap of faith my life has changed beyond comprehension.
I was able to take my children and I on holidays abroad, something which I had longed to do for us but could never afford. I surprised my brother with a trip to Amsterdam for his 50th birthday, something which I had wanted to do but could never see how I would manage it.
I have received free holidays, luxury Christmas hampers for Fortnum & Mason, weekend spa breaks, vouchers, cash bonuses, all for helping other people to save money. All for putting a smile on the faces of others and making a difference to their lives.
I have grown as a person as I have learnt new skills and I have begun to believe in myself and my own abilities in a way that I have always found difficult to recognise before.
More importantly I can be present when my children are facing the challenges which they encounter. I don’t have to let anyone down because I’m not turning up to clean their house at a particular day and time. I can work completely from home, or from hospital which I have done on many occasions during the lengthy stays with my daughter.
Taking a chance has shown me that there is always another way of doing things and I have now lost the feeling that I’m not working hard enough, I’m just working differently.
Taking a chance has opened up doors for me which I never even knew existed before and has led me down new and exciting paths.
The things I only dared to dream of are slowly becoming a reality.
I still take pride in what I do, always striving to be the best person I can be.
I am able to show my children that anything is possible in life if you are open to the possibilities that surround you.
I still get to help people which I have learnt is incredibly important to me, but now I do it in a way that is more suitable to my life.
There is a world of opportunity out there for everybody if you are willing to just take a look.
I stepped out of my comfort zone and amazing things happened. If you had the chance to make a positive change to your life would you take it?
Or would you let fear and apprehension stop you in your tracks before you had even begun?
What if you found something that gave you a glimmer of hope and you could see just one reason why it could work for you, would you take it?
What if you did and it changed your life?
What if you didn’t and things stayed the same?
I’m just a normal (ish) person, doing my best for myself and my children. If I can make a success of what I am doing then believe me when I say that anyone can!
You have nothing to lose in trying new things and everything to gain!
Don’t let something pass you by, you never know how utterly awesome things could turn out for you!
” The only things you regret are the things you didn’t do”Michael Curtiz
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