I’m Susan Ritchie and I’ve been running my own business for the last two and a half years. I love cheese, hate spiders, and have a day named after me in Westchester County, New York! Eleven years ago I moved to Borneo with my 9 year old son for the adventure of a lifetime.
And your business. What’s it all about?
I work mainly from home, where I write, see 1:1 clients and create programmes and workshops which I then deliver to others. I love it and have found a niche that motivates me, as well as making a difference to others, as for many years I felt like I wasn’t good enough and let it stand in my way.
I now help professional men and women to improve their performance at work by helping them to have the confidence to step up and increase their personal impact. I help them find that missing ‘something’ that’s stopping them from being great at what they do. I also work with teams and groups and next year will have 2 signature programmes that will run as open programmes and in-house courses in organisations.
I have a one day confidence/self-esteem workshop for primary school aged children called Learning to Shine and I’m increasingly being asked to work with teenagers and young people in the area of confidence. I’ve just published my first book and will be starting number 2 in January.
My aims and ambitions are to have a raft of online products and a full diary for my workshops and 1:1 clients. I have started creating some e-learning courses and want to build on this and expand it next year. I also want to have a range of books published.
This series of interviews is designed to inspire others, mainly women, on the same path. What tips would you share with them which would short-cut their journey to happiness being their own boss?
Make sure you are doing something you really, really love or it will feel like a chore eventually, so give it plenty of thought. Don’t do what you feel you ‘should’ do, go with what makes your heart sing. Learn from others, don’t be intimidated by their progress and avoid comparing yourself to people already way down the path ahead of you. You have lots to learn, never stop learning and find yourself a mentor.
What did you struggle with most in your start-up phase, and how did you resolve that?
I struggled with not knowing anyone. We had lived overseas and moved back to the UK to a city where we knew nobody. So I had to go out and make a network for myself, personally and professionally, on and off line. It hasn’t always been easy but I’m proud of the fact that I started from scratch and now have a wide network of friends and colleagues. Getting out of the house and meeting people was key to this.
I also underestimated how tough it would be to get a coaching/training business off the ground; this gave me quite a few knocks, and talking to people in similar situations has really helped. There was always a big fear of running out of money too. I overcame this by finding some associate training work which has meant there’s less pressure on me. I am hoping that by next summer I will be able to concentrate mainly on my own work.
What have you learned about yourself while working solo?
While I would say that I hate working to deadlines, ultimately they have been what has spurred me on. Having accountability from others has really helped me to get stuff finished. And as tempting as all the 30 Day Challenges etc. are on Facebook, they are, for me, a distraction. Concentrating on what really will grow my business and generate an income has forced me to make better progress and not get sidetracked. I still have days when I realise that all I have done is go from one to social media site to another, but they are rare now and I know I do it. When I catch myself doing this, I ask myself what’s up? What is it that I need to do but am resisting?
Did you choose self-employment or did it choose you? Any regrets?
After 18 years as a teacher, I knew I wanted the freedom and flexibility to set my own agenda and now I have worked for myself, I think I would find it stifling to be employed again. Regrets? Sometimes I look back at the lifestyle we had and pine for a bigger income. Sometimes I think I wished I’d realised how long it takes to build a business in this industry. You need to be in it for the long game. But the joy of not having to set my alarm on a day I am working from home, pleasing myself with what I choose to do and the achievements I have clocked up over the last three years pleases me no end. It’s shown me that anything is possible.
What one encouraging thought sums it all up?
Other people do it, so can I. This thought has motivated me for the last ten or eleven years in everything I do.
What project in your business are you most excited about right now?
My recently published book: Strategies for Being Brilliant: 21 ways to be Happy, Confident and Successful
Do you feel lonely and isolated when working for yourself?
I am generally happy with my own company and like working from home on my own. However, being in business is about who you know, so it’s important to get out and about and network, and I make sure that I diarise time to do this. I do this by attending groups but also meeting people for coffee regularly. I also use social media to form friendships.
How can we become your fans and followers, Sue?
My website is YouTimeCoaching.co.uk