As a new (very) small business owner, I sometimes want to pinch myself because I’ve actually left the world of full time employment… and the world still turns! I started Spark Escapes earlier this year but the idea and dream have been with me since 2010, making my new reality even sweeter than I ever imagined.
However, getting to this place has been an emotional roller coaster with setbacks and risks. But let’s be honest, whose new business journey is a bed of roses all the way?
Over the transitional new year period between 2009 and 2010, I admitted to myself that I had had enough of work. I had a long running career and enviable job at a media firm in London, but I was exhausted by and fed up of being a puppet five days a week.
I wanted something that drove me, that I created, that made my heart sing every day.
But I had absolutely no idea what that ‘something’ was to be. I spent hours daydreaming my way around new jobs in the same industry and alternative careers but nothing made me jump up and shout ‘eureka.’
Unintentionally, I began a self-development process by attending small events and workshops which opened my eyes to other options. This period was extremely fulfilling as I met some great new friends in a similar boat and learnt new ways of thinking.
One such workshop led me to an incredible coach called Marietta Birkholtz. I walked in hoping to find a new career path but surprisingly - and very happily – walked out with the concept for Spark Escapes, a business which organises inspiring events and workshops all over the world for people trying to escape boring jobs. It completely resonated with me and friends loved the idea too.
The energy and enthusiasm was all encompassing and I found it hard to continue going into the office every day.
On the side, I decided to organise a workshop – with Marietta – in Marrakesh. I booked a villa that I’d holidayed at in the past, researched flights, built a P&L, the works.
But I had little spare time and minimal funds. Add to this, the small amount of marketing effort I could make, all ensured zero places were sold. I climbed back into my box, lacking confidence and strength and filed the experience under ‘Failures’.
Fast forward a couple of years and a messy break-up later, I found myself again dissatisfied with and tearful about work and life in general. I had a million ideas but no self-belief so I reconnected with Marietta for a 1-2-1 session.
That session changed the course of my life and gave me the confidence to take risks the old ‘safe’ me would never have considered. The following morning, I walked into my boss’s office and resigned. That night I booked a one-way ticket to Mumbai and planned an extended grown-up gap year.
When I returned to the UK, I identified companies I wanted to work for and started writing letters of application.
Luckily I realised I was just repeating my old pattern.
I met with one wonderful company who offered me a new role but I took a huge risk and declined, instead asking for a six-month contract instead. It was scary but they agreed. I wasn’t ‘owned’ again!
During this six month period, I quietly revisited my dreams for Spark Escapes. My time travelling in Asia, coupled with the influences of the inspiring people I met on the road, had revived my confidence in myself and the concept.
One new friend had left her ‘big time’ career to work two days a week, giving her more time to develop her book writing career. She oozed happiness and fulfillment which gave me the guts to do the same. Work agreed to renew my contract as 9 days a month.
At this point, I knew my earnings would more than half so I needed to rein in my expenditure. My sister kindly agreed to put me up so I could eliminate hefty London rent prices, and friends were understanding when I missed social occasions and jaunts abroad. I recycled old clothes and generally cut back.
I hit the ground running, spending every moment at my laptop and getting worried about everything from money to finding customers to absolute failure. I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I thought I would. Luckily, I had a moment of clarity and realised I was doing exactly what I did when I was employed.
I was quitting the rat race, not recreating it!
So I slowed down and reset my schedule to include all the fun things I promised I’d do when I started my mission.
In addition to running Spark Escapes, I now make sure I spend time with friends, enjoy my research, develop my skills and travel. Recently I spent a month back in Asia, trekking in the Himalayas and visiting friends in Thailand. The business – and revenue – won’t grow as fast as it maybe could but I’m living the life I set out to live and I’m loving every moment.
Faith Hill is the founder of Spark Escapes, a company that organises Inspiring events and workshops. They have great events lined up both in the UK and aboard. Find out more here.