I would be delighted to go through the process that I went through with others. I made myself answer a whole load of questionnaires trying to lead me to the right path and I looked in to lots of different options out of the City. I can also introduce you to some of the people that helped, from lawyers and accountants to entrepreneurs.
Katie spent six years in the city doing inter-dealing broking before escaping to set up a new internet business giving a platform for artists and a new gift service for customers.
I would be delighted to go through the process that I went through with others. I made myself answer a whole load of questionnaires trying to lead me to the right path and I looked into lots of different options out of the City. I can also introduce you to some of the people that helped, from lawyers and accountants, to entrepreneurs.
I have set up a business called http://www.paintmeapresent.com/" rel="nofollow">Paint me a Present after it occurred to me that there wasn't anywhere to buy reasonably priced personalised artwork! Having given personalised paintings of my own to friends as wedding presents, I thought I could create a new art commissioning service that draws together multiple artists (and their differing styles and prices) to give everyone access to special presents or artwork for their own homes using a fun online process.
After a long slog of going backwards and forwards with web developers during the website development process, my day-to-day job now includes marketing the business, catching up with my artists and their progress with projects and finding new artists to join the team. I can work from home, cafés, art galleries or trade shows - the beauty of the business is that it is all online and provided I have wifi and a mobile, I can do it from anywhere!
I left university as a languages graduate but was drawn to the City by its promise of quick cash! I was lucky and got on a good desk within a firm that was doing well. It meant I spent from 7.30am to 5pm attached to two phones buying and selling equity derivatives before entertaining clients most evenings.
Whilst it was a fun and high octane experience at the start, gradually if you stayed still long enough to question what you were doing, you came away feeling pretty empty.
The fact that it was a job I could never proudly (or easily!) describe to friends, made it feel quite pointless in the scheme of things.
I got more and more disillusioned, and was in a rut. During a particularly tired and depressing week, I realised I had nothing in common with the outdoorsy, happy and creative girl I had been growing up, and the decision was made to make a change.
Whilst an entirely liberating moment of truth, this realisation also opened a can of worms. You quickly realise that starting from scratch will require a large amount of humility and patience, money and time.
I settled for an interim job selling property whilst looking into teaching and other industries but the year of searching made me realise that I could either be a semi-useful person in someone else's business or the indispensable founder of my own!
I saw a gap in the market for affordable and personalised art, then attended an Esc event where I met a fellow artist, a web developer and a fund manager in quick succession who all thought it a good idea. That was the confidence I needed!
The very next day after the moment of truth I wrote a business plan. Starting with the executive summary and business description, I then spent a lot of time doing competitive analysis and a marketing plan and did some basic spreadsheets. A big part of the plan was actual workings of the website.
Whilst I didn't need any funding, I found writing a full plan to be a brilliant process to think through all aspects and get me started.
I used http://www.surveymonkey.com/" rel="nofollow">Survey Monkey to test the waters with friends of different age groups and had a 90% positive response. After that I sent out a tentative advert for artists and received 200 applications in the first weekend! Realising there was both the supply and demand, I found a couple of web developers and got quotes.
The fear of not achieving was dispelled the minute I decided to launch my own business. Whether this is the success I think it will be or not, the very process of setting up your own thing gives you such a sense of achievement. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. At worst I will be back where I started in a couple of years, with another idea!
Another bonus is that nothing I do towards this feels like work - I really enjoy every aspect of it and you never have the anxiety of someone looking over your shoulder.
Setting up your own business doesn't even have to mean sacrificing your monthly wage because you can often get it started whilst still working. There really are no drawbacks, just an over-riding sense of fulfilment.
The best advice I got was to stop whingeing. A lot of us spend years of our working lives being dissatisfied and all of our time off whingeing about it. Much better to pour that energy into finding something that will make you happy. Go to some meet ups, find entrepreneurial events and get inspired.
I wish I had known that I could be this happy before making the leap. I certainly wouldn't have stayed put for as long as I did.