A career transition coach changed my life

Joanna Gaudoin

MY BACKGROUND

To give you some context, I have run Inside Out Image for just over 5 years, If you’d said to me even 6.5 years ago I’d work with a career transition coach and start my own business, I would not have believed you but that is what I did!

I started my career in the (not so) glamourous world of toilet roll, tampons and nappies, working in the marketing department of a large American company, firstly in France then in the UK. I then moved to work for a variety of small consultancies in London – mainly in marketing effectiveness but also with a spell in commercial due diligence (don’t ask…it has since been useful!). However, I would continuously move companies, hoping I’d enjoy my work more. I did to an extent in my final consultancy but then some of the Directors left and everything changed, so my frustration returned.

MY ROAD TO IMAGE

The problem was, every time I talked to a recruiter they put me forward for the same type of roles. So my then boyfriend, now husband, suggested I work with a career coach – something I probably would have never considered. When I mentioned this idea to a friend in passing, she said two of her friends had used one and had found her to be excellent. So a chemistry meeting later and Olivia and I started working together.

She was brilliant, she didn’t tell me what I should do (I had no idea) but made me think very deeply about some key aspects including what my core strengths are, what I enjoy most and what I’d like my days to look like.

 

The short conclusion was that I wanted to do something that supported people to get to where they wanted to at work and be the best they can be. Additionally, I wanted every day to be different – I had grown to detest the 8.30-6pm (or whatever) mostly at my desk in an office…

After starting to work with Olivia in January 2011, I resigned from my job pretty quickly. My boss and friend Emily was supportive and actually said she had an idea about what I should do but she wouldn’t tell me yet, intriguing! For the next few months I did some contracting work, helped a Christian charity with some admin and spent some time navel gazing to reflect on my coaching outcomes! I did some fun things too like going to the Old Bailey to watch a trial (having to pay £1 for the dodgy looking café across the road to look after my mobile was extremely weird…).

At that point I think only one of my friends had started her own business and that was in the same career as she had before, I think my parents were extremely worried. The fairly safe, conservative daughter that had never really done anything non mainstream was at 31 ‘chucking’ in her seemingly ‘safe’ career to work with a coach (as a reminder, with no idea of what she wanted to do) to eventually retrain and start her own thing.

Once I completed my coaching – armed with my insights, Emily kindly met me and had printed off lots of information about being a Colour Consultant, this together with my learnings about myself sparked some thinking. I knew I wanted to do more than Colour and so followed my research into the training companies and booking my training with First Impressions in Autumn 2011.

GOING IT ALONE

I then flew off for a nice holiday in Australia to see my sister Katherine marry Chris in Brisbane. My training was fun and First Impressions was definitely a great choice for me, predominantly as there were modules covering more than just appearance and because Lyn and her training team were so supportive and inspiring. I enjoyed my weeks up in Warwick and after recruiting some friends to be guinea pigs had my first style client in December 2011 (a nerve wracking day!). I then followed up with some further training the next year.

CHALLENGES I HAVE FACED

It is strange to think back to all of that 5 years later, my marketing background has definitely helped me but it has taken me a lot of hard work and time to get the business where it needs to be and you continually have to be thinking ahead. To share my top 3 challenges (I am sure if you work in the same industry you may share them too!):

  1. Getting people to realise how much image and impact matter for professional success.
  2. Balancing all the plates – admin, marketing, sales, preparing work, delivering work, networking etc. I can be a bit of a control freak…
  3. Making time for strategic planning and thinking ahead – how I want to develop myself and my business to deliver valuable sessions for my clients.

I think I started work at a time when coaches and other support were less a feature of daily professional life, thankfully I have seen this change. There is nothing wrong with you if you sometimes need some support, we all need people to help us step back and really think.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

I have worked with a business coach since my training to help me focus and she was amazing too.

I think one of my biggest learnings is not to be afraid of seeking the help and support you need to take the next step on in your journey!

My family and friends have been supportive on the journey – helping me with contacts, my Mum helping me at a trade show and even being a model for me at a photoshoot, my Dad offering me advice when I needed it and of course my very supportive husband who helped me kick it all off in the first place (who wouldn’t have married him?!). I love what I do and hope I run Inside Out Image for many years to come! I am so fortunate to do something every day I enjoy and am very thankful for the opportunity and the support I have had.

TOP 5 TIPS I WOULD SHARE WITH BUDDING IMAGE & STYLE PROFESSIONALS

  1. Get the professional support you need to work out your vision and again as you build your business. Help others in the industry where you can and listen to what they say – it may help you.
  2. Some may disagree but I think it is very hard to build a business on style consultations alone so maybe think about what else you could combine it style consultations?, exec coaching maybe? Being a clothing or accessory distributor?
  3. Don’t expect lots of introductions/referrals from friends and family. They may come but can take time and are then a bonus!
  4. Be prepared to take risks and get out of your comfort zone.
  5. Be realistic about the time you are prepared to give to build your business. If you want to do something part-time that is fine, but it will take you much longer. My first few years were pretty long days.