About all the corporate jobs I had, my first business adventure that left me broke and burned-out aaaaand about getting diagnosed with A(d)HD.
IN THIS BLOG:
- Corporate jobs I had that didn’t work out (but taught me loads)
- Creative entrepreneuring attempt #1: My own womenswear label
- My burnout
- Getting diagnosed with AD(h)D
BUT FIRST, A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THOSE THREE KEY THINGS…
The business plan, the clear goal and the safety net – we’ve already touched on them briefly, but now I want to take the time to explain why I think going into business with yourself without them is like running a marathon totally untrained. The good news is that it doesn’t cost you anything (only time and brain exercise ;)), and I happen to know for a fact from my own experience just how helpful they can be for you and your (future) business. The first time I thought it was a good idea to start my own business, I did it the untrained way. I dove in head first, without any of the above – no business plan, no clear goal, and no safety net.
Later, when I started a business the second time round, I made sure I learned from that first experience. I made sure I was prepared by having all three in place, and I truly believe that it made all the difference. Now when I’m running these ‘marathons,’ I feel so much better equipped to run them. I still find myself ‘out of breath’ from time to time, not all days have to be good days, but having those three key things sorted means I now have the security of a safety net to fall back on when and if I need it.
NOW, ABOUT THAT CORPORATE JOB…
After my Masters in Fashion Design, I worked as a designer for a few different companies. I had fun everywhere, but none of them seemed to hold my attention for more than a year. I was a pro at job-hopping! I worked at huuuuge high street companies, small sustainable companies, it didn’t seem to matter – nothing stuck. So after job number four, I thought it might be a good idea to start my own business. I used my name, Barbara de Ru and I made a womenswear collection produced sustainably and locally.
I worked sooo hard on it but it didn’t work out, and after three years of blood, sweat and tears it left me broke, burned-out and feeling totally worthless. I felt like I was not suitable for entrepreneurialism at all. It thought it proved that I clearly didn’t have what it takes. I’m so grateful to have since proven this wrong, that this wasn’t the case at all. But it took years for me to heal from that three year experience. For years I was convinced I should never try to have my own business again.
The burnout made me realize I should go to therapy and do some of that good old soul searching. That’s when I was diagnosed with AD(h)D (Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder). Basically, the brain’s self-management system (the part that helps you manage your day to day life), works a little different in my head than to that of others without AD(h)D. There’s lots of different ways AD(h)D can affect a person – lack of focus, or poor time management for example. I’ve written more about how it affects me on Bobbinhood’s Instagram account – you can find it in the highlights on our account. I also wrote a bit about it here in this blogpost and who knows, maybe I’ll write a full blogpost about it one day?
After being diagnosed, I found another super fun designing job. But again, after working ‘for a boss’ for two years (my longest job ever!!!!), I realized that this wasn’t ‘it’ either. One day I sighed and said ‘I hope one day I find a boss that loves all my ideas and just lets me have them and try them’. It was then that my husband delicately suggested that maybe I was the boss I was looking for, that maybe I needed to give entrepreneuring another go. He loved all of my ideas, and had the faith in me that I was lacking at that point. I felt that he might be right, but I also knew that I had to fix my broken entrepreneur heart first. So I slowly started to analyze what went wrong with my first business:
- I didn’t have a plan (in my five year fashion school education, I never really learned about making business plans).
- I wanted the brand to be something I wasn’t.
- I didn’t collaborate at all, I wanted to do everything by myself.
If I was going to give entrepreneuring another go, I wanted to be prepared this time. I realized I needed as good of a plan as I could possibly make. I needed to do research, talk to people, talk to more people, do more research again, and at some point I had to start doing ‘the math.’ Crunching numbers to see if I could turn my passion into my day job. The very first thing I did was schedule time for all this. I gave myself eight weeks – one hour a day, minimum of five days a week. With a newborn at home, it wasn’t easy to set a fixed time for myself. I created three possibilities a day. I would either do it during one of her naps or when my husband was home in the evening, after dinner. This way I had a lot of chances each day to work on it. I also asked my husband to check in with me every day and ask how I was doing with it. I needed a buddy, someone to keep me accountable. (I did instruct him to be a listener on this subject, to ask questions – someone to brainstorm with, and not so much a problem-solver. That really helped. It made it feel like an adventure, and made it something we were both looking forward to!).
In those eight weeks, I did not create a booming mortgage paying business, but I did plant that seed. And that’s a good start to growing anything, ain’t it?
LITTLE FUN FACT
I like making things, and the first thing I did before I started my eight weeks of soul-searching and research was build a table for myself. I think it was sort of a definitive transition, a rites of passage – literally making my own space to work on!
So without further ado, let me introduce you to the very first tip in this blog series… drumroll please…
Tip of the week: Dedicate time to planning your dream job
Make time and try to make it a regularity. Plan time to start creating your own dream job. Every other day, every weekday, each day of the weekend… whatever suits you and your life right now. Does the morning work best for you or are you a night owl? Maybe you like to do it every day at the same time for half an hour, or maybe you’d rather spend longer stretches of time on it twice a week. Just make sure it is manageable. Don’t make it too hard for yourself, but do make sure it is something you will really do. Try to find someone you can report back to with the same regularity. Briefly let somebody (preferably the same person through the whole time you’ve planned) know you did your session. It doesn’t have to be in person, it could just be a text at the end of every session you completed. ‘Today I looked up…‘, ‘I talked to… and learned all about…’. It will give you an extra boost of motivation to actually do it.
If you know a bit about how I work by now, you know that I looove tracking things. So for my own sessions, I made myself a 40-session tracker – eight weeks, five times a week. (I have also made a free download of it for you, one for 20 sessions and one for 50 sessions! – it comes with our special Celebrate With Confetti newsletter, if you don’t receive it yet subscribe here). Every time I work on my goal, I color in one shape. I even set an award for when I complete the tracker.
If you want to make sure you don’t miss a thing, subscribe here for our special Celebrate With Confetti newsletter! This will also give you access to the Confetti Factory where you can find all the free downloads that come with this blog (think calendars, trackers, analyze tools, the whole shebang!).