Hi, I'm the UK's only Purposologist. I use purpose as a way to help people find fulfilling work and create organisations which inspire and engage their employees and customers. I do that through career coaching, giving keynote speeches and consultancy.
Carla Miller evolved her experience in fundraising and consulting to become a full-time Purposologist. Now she spends her days consulting with leaders, advising entrepreneurs, and speaking about her fundraising experience at numerous events. Read her story to find out how she keeps herself leaping to get out of bed, wanting to go to work every day!
Happy to offer advice to anyone looking to move into a career in fundraising. I'm also going to run a http://www.carlamiller.co.uk/" rel="nofollow">Purposology workshop for people thinking of starting a business which some Escape members may find helpful.
I'm the UK's only Purposologist, which means I help organisations uncover and refine their purpose and communicate it powerfully to their employees and external audiences.
My purpose is to support a new generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs to create inspirational organisations that people love to work for, buy from and engage with. I think a more purposeful world will be a better world.
On a day-to-day basis I may be giving a keynote speech at an event for entrepreneurs, working with a charity on messaging for a fundraising campaign or advising an HR manager on employee engagement.
Right now I'm having a lot of meetings with people I'd like to work alongside such as advertising agencies and change management consultants. I also write about the importance of purpose and inspiration in business, interview some cool people and read a lot of books.
I was a Fundraising and Marketing Director and worked in the charity sector for 13 years. I loved the variety of the role and I certainly felt purposeful but I eventually got burnt out by stress of trying to raise ever-increasing amounts of money.
I've raised about £20 million for good causes to date and I'm really proud of that, but fundraising had lost its joy for me and I'm a big believer in leaping out of bed wanting to go to work.
I left my role as Director of Fundraising & Marketing at a children's charity on the Friday and then volunteered managing their annual fundraising ball from 7am on Saturday until 6am on Sunday morning.
It was an amazing event but as soon as I laid down in the hotel room to go to sleep, I felt sick and I was very ill for the next week. I realised that I was emotionally, mentally and physically burnt out and that I needed a break.
I didn't want the responsibility of a mortgage so I sold my flat and decided to reframe my burnout as a year off. That year turned into a few years of doing things that interested me. I had a brilliant time learning French in the South of France for two summers, interning at a social venture capital fund, exploring various business ideas and retraining as a life and executive coach. I did some consulting in the charity sector to keep my hand in and found myself focusing a lot on messaging and culture change and loving it.
http://www.carlamiller.co.uk/" rel="nofollow">Purposology is an evolution from the consulting and coaching work I've been doing over the past few years. It's what I had always dreamed of - getting paid to inspire people, come up with ideas and be myself - but it's only recently I've had the courage to claim that space rather than trying to fit into a category that people understand such as coaching or consultancy.
I sold my flat back in 2007 which funded my time off and since then I've also picked up a lot of consultancy work in the charity sector which has paid the rent. I spend about half my time doing that which gives me the breathing space to take some risks with Purposology.
I did lots of planning but discovered that you don't know an idea is going to work until you give it a go and take the risk. I've tried quite a few things that didn't work, including setting up a wellbeing business which I invested a lot of time and money into. I've learnt to test ideas throughly with my target market and to start on a shoestring wherever possible.
The best has been those days when I walk away from a client or event feeling inspired and energised and knowing I've made an impact. It is really amazing being paid to show up and do what you love. I also like sunny days working from home - it feels like real freedom to sit at my kitchen table and blog about ideas that excite me.
The worst was making a lot of mistakes along the way and losing money on my well-being business. I do believe that we learn from failures but I still find them hard to handle and am too hard on myself. I've also missed being part of a team, particularly the banter and having people to bounce ideas off.
The best advice - ask, ask ask.
Ask for advice, ask for help, ask how you can serve your clients better. I started off relcutant to ask and soon discovered it was vital for success. Be absolutely clear what you offer and who you help so that people can refer you easily.
What is wish I had known is that starting a business is a hero's journey with triumphs, challenges, obstacles and unexpected plot twists. Deep down I'd assumed it would come quite easily as I'd always done well in my career and it was quite a shock to the system at times. Expecting it to be difficult would have helped though maybe I wouldn't have taken the leap.
I would advise anyone taking the leap to follow their hearts but bring their heads along for the ride too - so talk to your potential customers, listen to their feedback, be flexible about the path you take and try to start on a shoestring budget rather than investing every penny you have upfront.
I've found that having both a coach and some mentors has helped me at key decision points and at moments when I stopped believing I could make a success of working for myself.
Books for entrepreneurs that I love...
I've found the http://www.bl.uk/" rel="nofollow">British Library and http://www.women-unlimited.co.uk" rel="nofollow">Women Unlimited offer some practical courses on market research, blogging and setting up a simple website.