My name is Sue Prytherch. I have worked for myself since I was 27. Although I am quite a business woman, I am never happier than when I am outside with nature and my animals so I live a sort of dual existence.
And about your business, Natural Talents?
My business is Executive Search for the Real Estate Market. I have a small staff plus I sue outsourced services and researchers. I work from converted farm buildings set in ten acres. I have sheep outside my window. I take my dogs to work and my cats live on the site and spend their days on the chairs in my office. It’s a very pleasant work environment. We are just building our dream home on the same site and I will literally have to cross a courtyard to go to work. My business has generated this lifestyle for me and allowed me to be there for my children as they are growing up. I am taking on a new business partner this year and we have plans to grow and develop the business over the next five years and put some of the profits into leisure-related business ventures we are just setting up.
What tips would you share with others which might short-cut their journey to happiness and success being their own boss?
I have learned that it is entirely possible to have a successful career and work it around your family and your lifestyle, particularly with today’s technology. However, it is important to be clear about what suits you and your lifestyle, what you are good at and how you want to work. I have made the mistake in the past of doing too much to suit other people’s timetables and requests and they haven’t been the best for me. If you set boundaries, people respond. If I am scheduled at the gym, I hold it as a meeting in my diary. Same with school pick-ups. I give these “meetings” the same respect I would to other meetings and my diary works well around them.
What did you struggle with at the outset, if anything?
I struggled with understand the difference between cashflow and profit and loss in my first year. My business generated good cash so I thought I was doing better than I was. I had a nasty shock when my accountant told me that I had actually made a loss. I have since done a number of business courses to make sure I understand finance properly. I now always operate from profit and run a cash-positive business.
What have you learned about yourself while working solo?
That I am hopeless at administration. I have someone great who works with me and does all of that side of things really well. I have learnt that I am also really impatient and can get quite frustrated with myself. When that happens, I take a walk outside. I have days when I find it hard to get motivated but I have also learnt that I naturally work in peaks and troughs so I am kinder to myself now on those days as I know I will have days coming up when I will work like a dervish and get lots done.
Did you choose self-employment or did it choose you? Any regrets?
I chose self-employment. Not one tiny regret. It has been the best thing I ever did.
What one idea would you share to encourage newbies?
It’s important to act in accordance with your own values and beliefs. This approach may not win you every client and you may occasionally need to turn work away, but ultimately you will find that you are working with people and companies that you respect and who respect you back, and then it is a pleasure to do business.
Do you ever feel lonely or isolated when working for yourself? Are you an introvert or an extrovert and how do you get your social needs met?
I am by nature quite introverted. My job is quite extroverted as it involves going out and about and meeting lots of people so I am happy to have quiet days in the office sometimes. I have at times felt very alone rather than lonely, especially during the recession when it was difficult to see where future work was coming from. I have a good network of people I can talk to about business issues and I know I can call them up and go for an uplifting lunch. Surround yourself with people who inspire you even if they are in different businesses or not in business at all. Many business issues are generic and fresh viewpoints are very helpful.