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After finishing at University in the mid-90s I found myself a job as a credit controller with a local firm. It was a good job, relatively well-paid and not too taxing on the grey matter. This set the tone for the next ten years of my life, although I did get married and move to London in that time but, essentially I just went from one finance related job to another. It was safe, secure but most of all it was boring!
Then in late 2006 I saw an advert on TV about training to become a driving instructor. I looked into it a little more and I was convinced that this is what I really wanted to do, my husband on the other hand wasn’t sure that giving up a safe comfortable job was the best idea I had ever had. We talked it through and despite his initial misgivings, he agreed to support me if it was what I really wanted to do.
It took me over a year to qualify as An Approved Driving Instructor, (falling pregnant shortly after starting the course slowed me down a little bit). Once I had qualified, my initial thought was to take the safer option and join one of the national driving schools as a franchisee, however, as I could initially only work part-time (as I now had a small baby to look after) financially it made more sense to try and go it alone. To say that I was a little apprehensive at the prospect of working for myself, after years of enjoying the relative ‘safety’ of a monthly salary, would be a bit of an understatement to say the least. But having given up a good job and spending a chunk of our savings on the training, setting up on my own was the only realistic chance I had, in my circumstances, to make a go of this.
I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t hard initially, starting a business from scratch is, (that’s what makes it ultimately so rewarding). Money was tight, and it took time to build up a reputation and a customer base. We made mistakes, sometimes it felt like taking two steps forward and one back but slowly and surely I got the hang of it, our reputation grew locally and in 2010 we actually took on a franchisee of our very own.
Now almost 4 years later, our driving school has five instructors and we cover all of North and West London. I am working harder now then I had ever done in the past however, I am doing something I really love and the satisfaction and confidence I have gained from being my own boss and setting up what is now a thriving little business means that I can genuinely say it has definitely been worth all the blood sweat and tears.
So if you have always thought about being your own boss and starting your own business, I can heartily recommend it. Of course you need to do your homework, research your potential market, make sure you have a good business plan in place then, take a deep breath and take the plunge! With a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, it may be the best decision you ever make.