The moment I knew I'd had enough

Date

Christine D’Mello

"It is empowering to be one's own boss."

"It is empowering to be one's own boss." Photo: Stocksy

Ever experienced that moment in your career when you want to just walk away from it all and be your own boss?

For women who find the odds stacked against them in the workplace, is it worth putting up with red tape or outdated attitudes that could be holding them back? Or do they strike out on their own?

"As an executive level manager, I led an exceptional, high-performing, all-female team implementing a suite of programs, for which we won some high-profile national awards," says Donna Cameron, who forged her own path and now runs wellbeing and style consultancy Body Map.

An organisational change saw many leadership positions around them filled by men, she says. "The experience and skill set of my female staff was not acknowledged so they were not considered for temporary promotion even into some less senior roles. It was disappointing to see their morale decline after they had worked so hard and achieved such incredible success."

Advertisement

This affected Cameron so much that even while on holiday she experienced stress and sleepless nights thinking about how to redress the situation.

"I realised the situation had become impossible. I decided I had spent enough time and energy trying to overcome the red tape around me and it was time to move on."

Cameron says it took one more event before she left to pursue her passion. She now runs her company with her sister Dr Nadine Cameron.

Digital marketing speaker, author and consultant Pam Brossman says there were many moments in her corporate career when she wanted to quit her job.

She had a great boss who got headhunted to another company. "The person who took over was the boss from hell. He made my life miserable, pretty much was a chauvinist and said, 'A woman's place is in the kitchen and why don't you just get married'.

"I didn't leave then because I didn't know what to do. So I went into another role and in another department."

Brossman then joined another company but was made redundant a couple of years later. "I was thinking in that time I was in that company I would come up with all these great ideas but it was always, 'Pam, it's a lovely idea but it's not in the budget'. I felt very stifled."

She says her boss in her last corporate role empowered women to be successful. But after becoming pregnant, she decided it was now or never to see if she could make it on her own.

She now makes in four weeks the same salary she earned in a year in her last role. "I have a global business. There is no limit to what I can achieve now, and the best I ever got to was a glorified communications manager in the corporate world."

Brossman says it is liberating and empowering to be one's own boss.

"I travel around the world when I feel like it. If I want to go cruising for two weeks, I'll go cruising and I run my business from the boat. I spent 10 days on Sir Richard Branson's island. It was the most amazing experience of my life. Do you think if I had said to my boss that I needed two weeks off that I would get the opportunity?"

Cameron says though she had worked fairly independently as an executive level manager before, it is refreshing to be entirely independent.

"Although I no longer have the six-figure salary, I have complete job satisfaction as I love working with the huge diversity of women who come to us.

"I think many women (and indeed men) have woken up to the fact that the traditional, corporate workplace and power roles are not that much fun after all and even if we do achieve job satisfaction, it's very often at great cost to many other things in our lives. I'm much happier forging my own path rather than fighting red tape."

Fiona Hurle, who coaches women through her business Mind Over Matter Consultants, says though she had a well-paying job with a fantastic boss who was supportive, changes in her life at a personal level made her more aware of who she was.

"I became very empowered to take control of my life rather than becoming a slave of the 9-5," says Melbourne-based Hurle.

"I knew there was something bigger for me out in the real world. So I launched out and started my own business."

But she didn't prepare for this move, she says. She had to go back into a role working for someone.

Hurle wasn't happy about it. "I have left that role because it confirmed to me that I really want to take control of my life.

"My self-esteem took a big bashing in the corporate world as opposed to now where I am able to feel confident in who I am and this is who I am."

How does one prepare for this transition?

"I didn't prepare the first time around," says Hurle. "On reflection, I would suggest that you need to transition smartly."

She says your finances are the first thing you need to work out.

"Generally, if you going to look at becoming your own boss, I would suggest that you start doing research for your business, doing any courses that you are going to specialise in."

There is a sub-clause, Hurle says. "With some employers, you need to check if you can run your own business while you work for them.

"But you would start to build your business while you still have a stable income. It may be a couple of hours during the week, or it might be that you have clients on the weekend. Slowly start to build up your client base that way."

Ensure you have enough finances to cover a couple of months, she says, so that the sale is done from the heart rather than from a place of desperation.

Align yourself with other business owners, she says. "It might be working groups, people you can safely bounce ideas off."

Have the right support and balance in your business and personal life, Hurle says.