I’ve been wanting to write something about what’s been happening for me for a while .. here goes.
Early last year the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy came up at Brighton & Hove City Council where I had been working for 6 years. The way it works is that you can put an application in and only a few months later do you have to absolutely commit. I put my application in very much undecided, almost “in case”. And then followed a very long few months cogitating, discussing and putting my finger into the wind. I had already been asked to consider a position by a prominent digital company, so I gained self-belief from that but the complication was that we were also expecting our THIRD boy in the same timeframe and the job involved a fair bit of long distance travel. And as some of you will know, I had worked really hard to firstly secure the Patchwork project in Brighton and Hove and then been hard at implementation for over a year. I had to think about letting that go, along with the job security and the healthy 21 miles of cycling each day along the coast. On the positive side I had a good sense of how possible it might be to network with other organisations and agencies if I ended up having to be freelance, because it has been a bit of a speciality of mine in my work, and I’d also been fully into “camps” and twitter for a couple of years and had a good network. I felt like I might be able to make my own luck and was excited with the possibility of trying.
It was all very difficult to think about, much of it speculation – so many moving parts. There was also one very patient and understanding person who’d offered me the job who was just amazing.
D-Day eventually came close and my INCREDIBLE partner was still being wonderfully supportive (even though she later told me she was very worried too). I had to commit without anything concrete arranged, still really undecided, and with a leave date two days before our third boy was due to be born! Very luckily for me, I was contacted by Surrey County Council who were about to implement Patchwork across the county. Could I come and lead the implementation? Well I looked at the map and it was just the right thing to do. It was fantastic timing and I could sit back and enjoy 6 weeks with my new born son (who hasn’t stopped smiling since he was born, I swear).
I went to see an accountant, thought of a company name and registered it at Companies House. I went to my bank and opened a business bank account. I organised professional liability insurance and long term sickness insurance. And I bought a second car and kissed goodbye to my flattish stomach. Later, after a couple of months into my initial 6 month contract I found a graphic designer and worked up a logo. Then I found strikingly.com and sorted out my website at rethinkdo.co.uk. Thinking about next steps, I contacted a previous boss who was about to start at Adur & Worthing Councils and got a few days more work there. I started contacting all the cool digital agencies and innovation think-tanks and began to forge links with some which will hopefully somehow open up opportunities for future collaborations or work offers. I began thinking about what it is I actually do, and am still thinking! I’m still at Surrey for a while longer but I’m a whole mix of feelings day to day. Anxious, energised, doom-laden, optimistic, excited. I don’t know how it will turn out. I’ll just keep networking while trying to deliver concrete value to people. I’ll keep thinking about where I fit in. I reckon it’ll be ok with purposeful thought and effort.