Working at home tips from thought leaders
Earlier this year I started a new series in which I talk to well-known people in the fields of home business and self-employment. I ask about their own experiences and the tips they have learned for working at home and running your own business.
Today I speak to Corrina Gordon-Barnes of You Inspire Me, who helps her clients market their home business and get paid for doing what they love. Tickets for Corrina’s community meet-ups in London are quickly snapped up, and I can vouch that her speed networking sessions bring great results!
I wanted to find out more about how Corrina reached this point in her business and the learning points along the way:
Hi Corrina, I believe you worked as an employee for a while? Tell us how you came to be self-employed.
Back in 2004, I was working as a secondary school English teacher and feeling a values-mismatch with the system. So I quit, with no plan for how I’d make money, simply with the pie-in-the-sky ambition of starting my own school. That got me connecting with the home-educating families in Cambridge and one of the mums hired me as a home tutor for her teenage daughter.
I remember spending two deliciously pleasant hours at Sophie’s kitchen table, with a view across her garden, inspiring her into creative writing. We had a wonderful connection and it just felt incredibly natural and fulfilling.
As I walked away from her house, I looked down at the freshly-inked cheque in my hands and felt a surge of possibilities. A new path had just opened up; I had a snippet of evidence that I could do exactly what I most love and people would pay me for it. That felt significant.
Parent after parent hired me to tutor their kids and run Drama workshops, and the start-a-school dream faded away. I was enjoying the independence of self-employment too much! Then I discovered coaching and trained to become a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, and re-focused there. Over the years, I built up a thriving coaching practice and let the home-tutoring work go. So, I’ve been my own boss for nearly ten years.
Was it a big decision to start working at home?
Not really. I have a very low tolerance for dissatisfaction. It felt natural to be carving my own path. It wasn’t like employment or working in an office was the default and I was choosing something radical; it was simply that I was pursuing my calling and that happened to involve working at home.
In the early days, it was a challenge to know how to organise my days and it got lonely. That’s why I now offer courses to combat these issues for others: clear, step-by-step structures for getting your business on the right track, and community meet-ups so you get to hang out with like-minded business owners.
What attributes do you think it takes to successfully run your own business?
You’ve got to be persistent. Building a long-term sustainable, successful business takes time, so you’ve got to decide to be in it for the long-term.
I heard a great piece of advice: that you’ve got to stay in line. You can’t keep abandoning the line because it’s not moving as fast as you’d like. Be patient. People talk. One happy client tells one other person, who tells another person, who tells another – and then you’re into the magic of exponential growth. When people start hearing your name from different directions and notice that you’re here to stay, then they feel safe enough to invest with you.
You’ve also got to love learning. When you’re doing your own thing, you never know if something’s going to work out. A great idea can fall completely flat, so you need to cultivate a mindset of “continuous growth”. What can I learn from this? Business is about iteration – try something, adjust course, try again, celebrate the success, make it even better.
I also believe we need to find an unconditional sense of safety, that’s not dependent on our bank balance or client roster. Whether through meditation or being in nature or some other activity, you need an anchor to keep you grounded and secure amid the whirlwind around you.
What are the stumbling blocks your clients face?
Often, they have unrealistic expectations – they see people talking about “six figures in six months” and beat themselves up that they’re not seeing profit overnight. Then they get into critical self-talk, self-doubts, and think about giving up. So, a reality check is useful. If you were building a physical building, you’d need to spend time putting down strong foundations; the same is true with a business.
They also often mistake self-employment with by-your-self-employment. They think that because they’re going it alone, they have to figure it all out by themselves. Actually, we’re all interdependent, and your passion positions you within a movement. You’re surrounded by people who want you to succeed and who have contacts and resources that will help you – so let them support you. We’re all in this together.
How do you help them?
I de-mystify marketing. When someone feels overwhelmed and confused and like they’re never going to understand how to get clients, I make it all make sense. I teach the right things to do, in the right order, so you’re on the right track for success. No more time wasted wondering, “Should I work on my website first, or my flyers?” When you know what to do, you can just get on with doing it.
What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
I’m a results junkie. When I see a client’s blog out there getting comments, when I hear they’ve just got their first paying client, when I see the raving testimonials they’re receiving, I’m one very happy lady. They’re helping others and they’re sustaining themselves – what could be better than that?
Corrina leads the popular Turn Your Passion to Profit training programme. Discover how to market yourself, help more clients, get paid for doing what you love, and get your business on track. Enrollment is now open; for full details click on the link.
Enjoyed this? Then you’ll also like my first interview in the series. Barbara Winter, the popular American writer and workshop leader, told her story of her path to working at home when her children were small.