Back in the day, you may have chosen a university degree in year 12, realised you hated it, changed courses, graduated and got a job. End of story.
I chose a Bachelor of Sports Media, largely because I liked the name and I was good at English. I went on to work in the media, with roles across regional TV news, a 24-hour news channel, the 6pm news desk and as a freelancer for six years in New York.
My time in New York led to some incredible opportunities, including a very ‘interesting’ interview with Donald Trump (a story for next time).
But while the excitement and last minute chaos of news reporting was addictive, I soon realised that this kind of career had an expiry date.
Once I had a family, I could see the unpredictability of live television just wasn’t going to work for me. Combine that with a hasty entry back into Australia during the GFC, and I knew something would have to change.
My partner, Adam, who’d been in finance in the US, was, it seemed, unemployable in Australia. He took a job working as a brickie’s labourer in desperation to make ends meet.
I had tried barre in New York in 2009 and absolutely loved it. That says a lot — because, typically, I was not by any stretch a gym junkie. Barre was sweaty, fun, extremely challenging and involved fabulous teachers who pushed you. I had never been fitter or stronger in my life.
So in January 2012, when Adam and I were frantically researching various business ideas, barre workouts were something we kept coming back to. We researched if there were any US brands trying to come to Australia and that’s when we found Xtend Barre.
Three months later, there we were, bank loan in hand and Xtend Barre Australia’s first franchisees. Problem was, we’d never owned our own business before or worked in the fitness industry and we were the founding franchisees of a brand no one had ever heard of.
Fast forward six years, and we now have three studios (soon to be four) in Sydney.
While my situation was quite drastic, for many who are thinking of switching careers or going into another industry, that moment of clarity, of where, when and how to jump ship on a job, or an entire career, won’t be as obvious as mine.
And if you’re sitting in a comfy job, on a good wage, with no real financial, family or other immediate pressure, you technically have a lot more to lose than I ever did. I kind of had no choice.
I can now work from home, pick the kids up from school, go on holidays in the school term and have long lunches on Fridays.
Then again, we didn’t pay ourselves for two years and we now have a team of 15 staff we’re financially responsible for. I’m on emails 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
What I have learnt
Be prepared to fail. You have to ask yourself, ‘if I don’t pull this off, what’s the worst-case scenario?’ If you can accept that, then that’s a huge fear to conquer.
Ask yourself … are your skills transferable at all? I had no experience in the boutique fitness industry. But when I tried barre the first time, I knew if it was something I loved then it was be something many women would too. I can also talk. So this skill is pretty useful when spreading the word about my business.
Stay focused on your end goal and be resilient. You’re going to get knocked down plenty, so you need to back yourself and keep remembering why you made the move in the first place
Be a sponge. Learn as much as you possibly can about your new career or business. There’s always a better way to do things, a more efficient system to install or someone who knows more than you.
The time is never right. Stop finding excuses or worrying what people will think. If you want to make it happen, you will.
I was recently asked at a women in business conference if, looking back to 2012, I ever doubted myself and the decisions I made?
The answer is yes, 100%.
But I think doubt is something I’ve had to get comfortable with. And I think a certain amount of doubt is healthy.
I still feel like an imposter sometimes, but I know that my desire to make this work has a magnetic force with a lot more power than doubt will ever have.