I’m Heather Bestel, a therapist, author and lecturer. My clients call me the Feel Good Fairy because I make them feel good about themselves.
After qualifying as a psychotherapist/hypnotherapist in 1994, I set about growing a successful private practice in Liverpool, UK. This led to my stress management consultancy being born in 2000. I became very busy, very quickly and for five years I worked with organisations across North West England and was regularly travelling around the UK speaking at conferences and giving interviews. I had a column in the local paper, giving expert advice on radio and local TV.
But it was all became too much. While I was giving out advice about ditching stress and creating work-life balance, I was actually heading for burnout myself. I knew I didn’t want to live like this and from a professional perspective, I knew it wasn’t doing my health any good.
What I really longed for was to live somewhere quiet and peaceful and to watch our daughter grow up and to be there for important moments in her life. I really loved helping people, but I needed to be there for me first, otherwise I was no good to anyone. Drastic measures were called for.
So, in February 2006, my husband Peter, daughter Zoe and I moved 200 miles to the middle of nowhere in South West Scotland to pursue the dream of downshifting, simplifying and reducing our stress.
We brought my business online in 2007 and it’s been growing ever since. Peter is now my tech department and our aim is to make the business totally location independent over the next 12 months so that we can travel.
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?
The biggest short cut in business is to get a coach early on. Someone you admire and whose business is doing well. They can save you years in time and effort making loads of mistakes yourself.
What did you struggle with most in your start-up phase, and how did you crack that?
When I first started out as a therapist I wanted to help everyone even if they couldn’t afford my services, so I had a scale of prices. A few months in I realised that I had a diary full of low paying clients and hardly any high paying ones.
My business wouldn’t have lasted a year if I had carried on that way, so I changed my strategy and filled the diary with high paying clients, but left one day a week to work with charities and non-profits and people on low income.
What have you learned about yourself while working solo?
That I love the freedom of making all the decisions. I’m also OK about taking the responsibility if something doesn’t work and I can motivate myself when necessary.
Did you choose self-employment or did it choose you? Any regrets?
In order to set up my business I reduced my lecturing hours until I had enough clients in place to make the leap. I always kept the door open in case I needed to go back. I still take on lecturing work but now I pick and choose it carefully. I think I’ll always be self-employed. I don’t think I could go back. No regrets.
What one encouraging thought sums it all up?
There are no limits and no one to limit you but yourself.
Do you feel lonely or isolated when working for yourself? How do you get your social needs met?
At first, I missed the camaraderie of the staff common room and someone to bounce ideas off but I now get those needs met as I work from home with my husband. I also co-founded a mumpreneur networking group in South West Scotland to support other mums in business.
How can readers find out more about you, Heather, and the work you do with your clients?