#10 Coach and author, Anna Lundberg talks about leaving the Corporate 9 to 5
Anna Lundberg is a coach and author of the recently published book, Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5. We talk about the challenges of leaving a secure job and how it’s important to get help when you need it and to keep a close eye on finances.
We discuss the issue of wearing too many hats such as tackling IT, accounts, coding and the benefits of knowing how these areas work before outsourcing to someone else. Getting to grips with these areas is important but if you don’t enjoy an activity, Anna advises seeking help.
Find Anna’s services here:
Read the transcript
Amanda Brown: Hi and a warm welcome to the Homepreneur show. My name's Amanda Brown, business consultant and founder of the Homepreneur community. I'm here to help you overcome the challenges of running a home based business. Whether you're just thinking of leaving the nine to five or you're a seasoned homepreneur my aim is to provide you with guidance on productivity, focus and motivation so you can maintain the perfect work life balance.
Amanda Brown: This year I celebrate 20 years of working from my home office through both the ups and downs. You can discover the show notes, free courses and downloads at www.homepreneur.co. Let's get started.
Amanda Brown: Hello everyone and welcome to the latest episode of The Homepreneur Show. Today I'm really excited to bring you an interview with author, coach, entrepreneur and a Lundberg who is going to talk about her new book so welcome Anna. Would you like to introduce yourself to the Homepreneur community and tell us all about your exciting projects of which there are quite a few going on at the moment.
Anna Lundberg: Thank you Amanda, thank you for having me. I love that introduction. I'm still struggling a little bit with that author title but it's been my life ambition and I have now written two books so I'm beginning to tentatively accept that title so thank you for introducing me like that, it's lovely to hear.
Anna Lundberg: My background is I worked in marketing initially at Procter and Gamble so big multinational company, in Geneva in Switzerland actually. I left there in 2013 and I've since then had a lot of twists and turns shall we say in terms of initially setting up as a consultant, actually very quickly earning as much as I had been in my previous job which I think was lucky to land on my feet but I also soon realized that I was very much caught up in the same kind of work, the same kind of stress. I was tied to my clients officers and so. I was able to travel between contracts but still overall, the work was very similar.
Anna Lundberg: Then I went through what I like to call my hippy phase when I sort of projected all my expertise and experience. I went off and I studied coaching and I wrote and I didn't really earn lots of money but I saw the world and I loved it. Now, the last few years I'm consolidating that and as you sort of hinted at, I've been really knuckling down I guess and trying to, and succeeding I think, really work on my goals and really get the business up to a different kind of level. Now I'm still location independent as I was while traveling but I'm based in London and feeling a lot more settled.
Anna Lundberg: My business is one step outside and as you mentioned I'm a coach so I combine now my marketing and business background with the softer life coaching side of things in terms of what I like to call re-imagining success so questioning maybe some of the learned and inherited beliefs and ideals we have from our parents, from school and so on and then forging our own path, based in career but also really life as a whole. I've babbled on for long enough but I will say as you said-
Amanda Brown: No, no, no, that's a great introduction.
Anna Lundberg: I've just launched my book which is a collection of 50 stories of other people who've done what I've done so left their jobs. It's leaving the corporate nine to five stories of people who've done it and how you can too. That's been, as I said, a massive achievement for me because I've always wanted to write, I've always loved writing and also, of course, to put those stories out there which I think is so inspirational and reassuring to others who are considering or maybe working through that at the moment.
Amanda Brown: I think that we see a huge trend in people either becoming self-employed and leaving the corporate nine to five or setting up on their own straight out of university. It is the biggest gross area. People leaving that corporate world and working, either remotely for a company or on their own. It is absolutely huge and we see the number of co-working spaces popping up everywhere as evidence of that. It's a very interesting trend. Tell me a little bit about how you went about gathering the 50 people that you interviewed for your book.
Anna Lundberg: It happened really organically. I actually very selfishly started interviewing interesting people I met because I wanted that reassurance and inspiration myself. I initially started a travel blog when I started taking, well I traveled across South America in a sabbatical before got up the courage to actually quit my job. That involved into my personal musings on career and work and so on and eventually became my business platform but these people I just wanted to talk to them about okay, you've done this so what were the fears you had, what was the support you got to help you and what advice would you give me and now other people as well. I've actually been running those on my blog for the last five years so it's really an act of collecting all those and now I have 50 from five years, collecting them together and also framing those of course with my own experience and perspective and then giving some little next steps and ideas for people to take what they're learning and apply it for themselves as well.
Amanda Brown: It's interesting, isn't it because seemingly when you, I can remember leaving the corporate world, a long time ago and sort of thinking right, I'm reinventing myself, I retrained when I had my children and became a garden designer and ran a landscaping business for 14 years but I knew absolutely nothing about running a business. Networking, what was that? That was a real, I thought [inaudible 00:06:02] networking, we don't do networking, oh, I'll go try that one out. There are all sorts of things that happen in the non-corporate world that now do happen in the corporate world but then it didn't happen. Where do you think people should go for advice about, apart from reading your book of course, where should they go for advice? What advice is out there to help people who are wanting to leave the nine to five?
Anna Lundberg: That's a great point and I think I actually wasn't aware of where I could find that help and I also thought I didn't need the help because somewhat arrogantly I thought ooh, I've worked in business and marketing and I know this and I should be able to do it myself. I think a lot of people I work with are like me, we're driven, we're self-motivated, we've got a track record of success in our work, we don't realize that it's such different things that go out by ourselves. As you said, more and more people are doing it. I am 100% believer that it is the best possible thing we can do for our own satisfaction, fulfillment, for managing our balance with our young families and so on and even ultimately earning more money potentially than we did in our companies but it is difficult, it is scary and it does take time.
Anna Lundberg: When I started I actually started on that sabbatical when I was traveling just by reading. It's little steps along the way. You can't expect to, once you've decided I maybe want to leave or even, I'm definitely going to leave, we tend to be quite impatient and want to take lots of action right away so you rush into things we're not quite sure is the right thing. We might think, ooh, I need an MBA and we'll invest lots of money in a formal course or something and actually I think the first piece of advice I'd give is just have some patience and just allow yourself to explore okay, what is it I might want to do instead, and read and be inspired and so on.
Anna Lundberg: Definitely, hopefully the book will be a part of that. I've read so many books over the years from people who have questioned the kind of conventional path of school, university, business or career rather and so on, books around finding your north star, things more coaching books and so on. I think books, now podcasts of course, like this one are a great way to listen to what other people are doing and get a feel for which are the voices that you're hearing because there's so much noise out there but which people do you feel like you trust, which messages are resonating with you. And then gradually over time I would recommend narrowing down to one or two of those voices because I certainly went through phases when I was listening to everybody, I was reading everything, I was signed up to every newsletter and I just got so overwhelmed because you'll have one person telling you you have to do webinars, someone else will say Facebook advertising and someone else will say you've got to do this. You just get torn in pieces.
Anna Lundberg: Of course, coming from a coach I would recommend and the ideal is to have a coach that you actually work with throughout the process. For people I work with who are still in their corporate jobs, obviously, the benefits of that is that they still have the corporate salaries, that means they have a bit more security in terms of income, they can take their time with working with someone and building [inaudible 00:09:02]. People who've already quit of course, then we're already potentially in a bit of a precarious financial situation and working through our savings. Perhaps all the more important there to find help because you really need to get that business up and running even faster actually when you're dependent on the income.
Amanda Brown: I do think it's quite difficult also getting good quality help. Every county has a growth hub. It can be a little bit hit and miss, the quality of the advice or the generic nature of the advice that is provided by [inaudible 00:09:36] government bodies to people and a lot of those people actually themselves haven't gone through the homepreneur or leaving the corporate nine to five themselves and so really knowing how it feels, where you can empathize with those people is so important when you're providing advice or seeking advice from someone.
Anna Lundberg: Yeah, and I think that's a great point and finding someone who's a few steps ahead of you is a great way to really feel like, look, they've done it, I can do it too and not follow them and copy them but certainly there are things then that you can learn and avoid some common mistakes and so on. You know, the best thing now is that you can get so much free information out there, everyone now, I certainly, I'm about to launch my podcast but I have a Facebook live training in my group every week. I'm in there answering questions every day. I send a weekly email. I have a lot of people in my community who aren't willing, I guess, or able to invest in my paid programs but they still get a ton of value from the free stuff so again, don't feel like there's nothing you can do if you don't have the money, there's a lot of free information out there.
Anna Lundberg: I think, unfortunately, I think, we think, I think we think, lots of things, that oh I'll invest in that once I've got the business up and running. It's a bit of a mistake because it's that classic, and my coach always says this to me, I'll fill the tank with petrol once I get to my destination. It's like actually, we have to invest time, we have to invest money in getting the business off the ground and waiting until it's working is a bit upside down because actually you need the support in order to get it working.
Amanda Brown: Yes, I know, we met on freelance day, didn't we, the celebration of freelance day which was run by Etsy and I'm a member of a group, there's a guy called Ed Goodman who runs Freelance Heroes and it really does worry me when I see streams in public, in Facebook groups about the limited amount of savings that some people think is enough to keep them going once they leave the corporate nine to five. It does worry me because actually you've still got your mortgage to pay, you've still got maybe a family to provide for, it does take time and as you so rightly said, patience to get a new business off the ground. Unless you're going to go for funding, you might very soon burn a great big hole in that bank balance. I was talking to an advisor the other day and he was recommending to have a year's savings before you actually branch out into our new world. Some people are saying, “I've got three months in the bank.” It just worries me but then it wouldn't be something I would advise somebody to launch into it.
Anna Lundberg: That's a really important perspective and I would never, I've always been a bit tentative about the whole message of leaving your job and quitting your job precisely for that reason. I would never want to push anyone, or make them think that yes, it's going to be fine, you quit your job and ta da everything will work out. I happened to leave yes, with significant savings. I was lucky to, I think at the time have in-demand skills. I was in digital marketing and my network was a huge support and so you can be lucky. There is a whole section in the book of people who have taken that leap of faith, some of them are struggling more than others and it's certainly taking time.
Anna Lundberg: If you're single, if you don't have a mortgage, if you don't have a family and dependence and so on you can make some sacrifices there and you're a bit freer but as you said it takes money so either you need to be incredibly comfortable with risk, and you may think you are but that initial euphoria and excitement of quitting is going to dissipate and then you'll be stressed and you'll be tempted onto job sites and you won't be able to focus on the things you need to focus on because you're so desperate and concerned about the money. Savings, yes, but to be honest, income because you're going to need to both have that for your own piece of mind but also then invest in the business. Whether that's your existing salary from your current job or there's other sort of gray areas like [inaudible 00:13:42], you can do consulting, freelancing in your old world of expertise and network and so on while you're building up the longer term business and brand and something new.
Anna Lundberg: For me, again, the marketing consulting and so on has been a common thread that's bought in the more corporate income while I've been building up my coaching so 100%, couldn't agree with you more that really taking that seriously, looking at the reality of your financial situation, your budget, talking to your partner, looking at the criteria, what parameters are important to you and then making sure you have that, whether it's continuing in your current job or having some other stream of income in the meantime.
Amanda Brown: Yes, the side hustle is becoming something we hear a lot about in the States but it is happening over here in the UK as well, people running jobs alongside their current salaried employment.
Anna Lundberg: Yeah, and there are so many inherent benefits from that, even if you never quit your job, it's having that passion project, it's the skills you get from it, it's the learning curve, it's just the fun and creativity of managing your own business. Obviously it feels like you're adding something then to your already very busy place and funnily enough this week I'm actually writing an article about juggling a full-time job with a side business. Ironically, I think, you actually find that you have suddenly more energy and more time that you didn't realize you had because you're excited about this project, you have that strong why, you understand why this is something that could potentially lead to an escape route perhaps out of the nine to five. Absolutely, building alongside your job is a way to validate your idea until you begin getting those clients and importantly, work out if you actually enjoy this because maybe you hate it and it would be a shame to throw everything in and start something and then a few months later realize that actually it wasn't what you wanted to do at all.
Amanda Brown: On that point what do you feel is the main negative about running your own show?
Anna Lundberg: I'm a little bit naively optimistic about the whole thing and I don't see a lot of negatives however all positives in a way are potential negatives. The fact that you're your own boss means that no boss is telling you what to do but of course that also means no-one's telling you what to do so it means you have to make decisions yourself. Having your own time means hooray, you've got your own time but it also again, means you have no structure, when you start out you've got no meetings to go to and so on which sounds amazing but suddenly when your days and weeks stretch out ahead of you you're like, “Hang on a second, I don't know what to do.” And you're actually not that productive. Working from home, flexibility, amazing and so on but then also you might feel lonely, you might miss getting dressed up and going somewhere and so on and also, of course, the big thing that people talk about is the instability of the income and the risk and so on.
Anna Lundberg: I think there are those potential downsides but there's solutions to all of those in terms of having, I mean I'm simplifying now, but having potentially different income streams, setting your rates higher, working with a coach to really up your game in the business so that you're earning money and you don't have that instability that perhaps traditionally is associated with freelancing. You can leave the house, you can join a co-working space or work with other people, there are answers to all these things so don't accept your lot if your struggling with this and thinking oh, I'm lonely and this doesn't work and so on, try to find the support you need and find a solution before you give up on the whole idea.
Amanda Brown: I think one of the things that I do see people struggling with is trying to be all things to all people and wear too many hats, they try and struggle on with coding their website when they should get somebody in or trying to fix a problem with IT, maybe taking on additional members of staff and not having formal relationships in place in that respect. Do you see that as an issue, people trying to do everything?
Anna Lundberg: Yeah, when you say that it makes me think of two things. The one is, as you said, thinking, and I've certainly done this myself, I did my own accounts for the first four years so it happens to all of us but when you're starting out you feel like you don't have a lot of money and you need to do it all yourself and there is an advantage in that because you'll learn the different aspects of what it takes to do things and it's so much easier now to build your own website with a template and so on so a lot you can do. Even with accounts, I think it's important to really dig into it and understand all the details. However it is also so easy, thanks to now all the freelancers and location independent people to find someone to support you. When we're talking about outsourcing, getting support it doesn't mean you have to hire a full-time employee in an office. I literally have on Fiverr, fiverr.com with two R's, Fiverr, a graphic designer who is in Asia somewhere who does the most amazing work, literally for $5 each time.
Anna Lundberg: The design of my book cover is, he's based in Pakistan, did that for 250 pounds and what else? I do now have an accountant and [inaudible 00:18:32] so some things like that, yes, 100%. Certainly if you're not good at something, there's a difference between this is something that's a bit uncomfortable but I can get to grips with it and actually, I'm never going to enjoy doing that and I hate it and then you want to quickly get someone else to do it. The other thing that came up for me when you said that doing too many things, is the classic nicheing and sort of branding and standing out versus all the competition and so on.
Anna Lundberg: I think that's a delicate balance because when we're first starting out there is a period of having to say yes to a lot of different things and exploring and seeing what we enjoy, where is the actual need, what are people looking for, what kind of solutions and where are people actually willing to pay me because I can sit at home and come up with the perfect niche or I'm going to help this type of person, this age and this problem but actually when I go out there they don't care and they're not going to buy from me.
Anna Lundberg: There's an element of expanding, exploring and saying yes but then there is also peace and I think a lot of us struggle with that, of actually saying I can't be all things to all people. In the case of coaching, in theory, coaching works with everybody so I could coach people to lose weight, to change jobs, to start their business, to find the love of their lives and so on but that's not very helpful from a marketing perspective so there's definitely an element there as well of being more specific in terms of the kind of work you want to be doing, where you see the biggest pull and trying to get more specific. Actually, ironically, that will get you more clients.
Amanda Brown: That's absolutely true when you think about it. If you're trying to maybe work with, how many clients does a marketing consultant actually need? Probably only half a dozen. Well, how many companies are there in your location that can fit a particular niche? As they say in America, the riches are in the niches and that is true, you hone your skills, you hone your specialty and it certainly does pay off. Being all things to all people is pretty bad advice actually.
Anna Lundberg: Well, the other thing, of course, speaking of riches is the biggest mistake I see people make as well is setting their rates too low. There are some very confident people who go in way higher than I would want to go in as well but in general I think, I see a lot of people say, “Oh, no but in my sector I can't possibly.” And, “Ooh but I'm not very experienced I can't charge anything.” Actually, obviously being more specialized is going to help you build your confidence, your skills and allow you to charge higher rates and as you said, there's only so many, certainly coaching one on one, there are only so many clients I have the emotional energy, not to mention the time to work with every day. You have certain financial goals to be able to live your life as you want to and you need to work out what that means.
Anna Lundberg: You can't have a business strategy that means that you need 10,000 clients a year if actually you can only service a 100 clients a year, let's say. So breaking down those numbers and ultimately probably raising your rates to higher than you feel comfortable with is going to be critical to avoiding that insecurity and eating through all your savings that we were talking about.
Amanda Brown: There's two things that come out of what you've said and I think that's valuing your own ability and not going down the imposter syndrome route which I think we've both written about quite recently. I think that's very important, and also I think that having some business plan of some sort, it doesn't need to be a business plan that you would take to the bank or to a prospective investor but some business plan that has a few numbers on it and maybe some best and worst case scenarios so that you have got a real handle on how much your business is, the expected revenue and the anticipated expenses because I think just working and hoping is also burying your head in the sand and a little bit of a recipe for disaster. That shouldn't hold you back, it should empower you to go right, I am going to hit that target of whatever it is.
Anna Lundberg: Absolutely, and I think definitely it doesn't have to be a 50 page PowerPoint document or 20 Word pages and it needs to be really shorter. As you said, burying your head in the sand isn't going to help you at all. If you believe in the ‘universe' and ‘woo woo' things then actually if you're not focusing on the money then money isn't going to be coming in and from more rational, logic standpoint, if you have no idea how much you're earning you'll get to the end of the year and be hang on, actually I needed this amount and I've only done this. Even though it's scary, you want to find that out now rather than at the end of the year when it's too late.
Anna Lundberg: One of the advantages and again, the challenges of running your own business is that you do need to and you will get on top of your money but I think that's great because as an employee I certainly didn't think of that. I was like yeah, there's pension and insurance and blah blah, I didn't really know what taxes I was paying, I didn't really look at my savings and so on. Now, I am so on top of both my business finances and my personal investments and so on as well.
Amanda Brown: Now we're coming to the end of our interview and I'd love you to share with us exactly where people can find you.
Anna Lundberg: Thank you, it's been lovely chatting to you Amanda. As I mentioned my business is One Step Outside. It's based on the quote, “Everything you've ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone” which I really like. So I'm at www.onestepoutside.com. Also, there's a Facebook page, One Step Outside and above all, the Facebook group that I mentioned where I'm doing trainings and Q and A's and so on. Of course, I have to make a plug for the book which is Leaving the Corporate Nine to Five and you should be able to find that by searching either that or my name on your local Amazon site.
Amanda Brown: Absolutely, that's fantastic. Well, thank you so much Anna for coming on this call. I hope everybody will hop over to Amazon and search for Anna Lundberg.