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New Tricks

Kerry Thompson
She’s always been a great mum, but she has definitely always put her role of ‘mum’ and ‘wife’ first. Any career aspirations she may have had, were firmly kept on the back burner.

Let me start with some background on my mum, Sue. She’s always been a great mum, but she has definitely always put her role of ‘mum’ and ‘wife’ first. Any career aspirations she may have had, were firmly kept on the back burner. When I was still a baby she started a part time job in Presto, which later became Safeway, then Morrison’s. For nearly 30 years, she was a dedicated, but frustrated, and definitely not-very-happy, employee. She made some firm friends there over the years, which was the silver lining, but despite giving her all to each role she undertook, she was never fulfilled.

Fast forward to 2011 and she has now added two dogs to the family; a Lhasa Apso called Lacie, and a Shih Tzu called Alfie. She taught herself grooming techniques to maintain their fluffy coats. Not only did she enjoy it, but she realised she was actually pretty good too! Friends and neighbours started to ask her to groom their dogs.

And so an idea was formed…what if this could be a new career?

However, the negative ‘what-ifs’ started…

  • “What if I’m no good at it?”
  • “What if I don’t get any customers?”
  • “What if I don’t pay the right taxes?”
  • “What if I don’t make enough money to pay the bills?”
  • “What if I’m too old to learn a new skill? I’m 53 years old!” (What, like teaching an old dog new tricks?! 😉)

I answered all of her ‘what ifs’, and gently encouraged her to pursue her dream. We talked through each concern and each challenge until she could see and understand the solution. I gave her advice and designed some simple tools and techniques to help her manage her business, on a day-to-day basis. 

In January 2012 she attended a formal training course and purchased her equipment (a big deal for her as she would never buy herself anything! In fact, even attending the course was a big deal as it was a residential course that necessitated her to navigate trains and taxis on her own, and stay away from home; something she'd never done alone before). Her company was formed, and she started to take on her first waggy-tailed clients. She was an instant hit with both the dogs and their owners. 4 months later, she had built her business up so well, she was ready to hand in her notice at Morrison’s. 1 week later she was now fully self-employed.

Nearly 9 years on, the business is still thriving and for many years, she’s had to literally turn customers away because she simply can’t fit them all in. The best bit though, is her happiness. She genuinely enjoys what she does, and economically, she’s far better off than she would ever have been had she stayed in her ‘normal’ job. She’s working smarter than ever.

I’m an incredibly proud daughter. My mum is still the best mum and wife, but she is now also a pretty fantastic business woman too. She has her own identity.

She says her only regret is that she didn’t do it 20 years earlier, but as I say to her, “the most important thing is, you did it”. She took the first step on what was an incredibly scary journey, but with my guidance, and with support from her new dog grooming colleagues she met on the course, she did it, and continues to make it a success.

So, be more like Sue - an old dog that learned new tricks (her words, not mine!) - and take the first step on your own career adventure.

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