Interview with a career change mum – Dawn Wilce

Ruth Kudzi8

Today I interview Dawn Wilce who has recently started her own business – Absolute Boss. She is an Executive Coach and Mentor, working with ordinary businesses and average entrepreneurs to help them become extraordinary at what they do and become the standout player in their market.

1.     What gave you the idea to start your business?

I guess I’ve always been an entrepreneur.  When I was 6 I made pretty jewellery out of my sweet wrappers for my dolls.  My friends loved the jewel coloured necklaces and desperately wanted some too, so I made more and traded them at school for snacks and daisy chain bracelets.  At 14 I worked weekends at a pet store and would spend hours swotting up on the different animals to make sure I could give amazing customer service, so much so that I earned tips – at a pet store!  When I was 15 I drew caricatures for family and designed logos for local businesses. 

By 18 I really wanted to start my own business.  But advice from my parents and teachers to go to Uni and get a proper career: “Work hard” they said, “and you will get the security of a good job, be rewarded with a nice salary and be able to buy a nice house”.  So I did. 

I got my University Degree in Business Law and my career really ramped up in my mid-twenties when I landed a six-figure salary and got to travel the World spending millions of pounds sourcing really chic cosmetics and developing ranges of pretty home furnishings. 

It looked like I’d really made it but the reality didn’t match up.  My 9-5 wasn’t really an ‘office hour’ gig.  As my buying career progressed I wasn’t able to spend any mum time with my kids and I was starting to resent the long hours, excessive travel, high-pressure, endless meetings and working my ass off for someone else’s fortune.  At work, I was getting bored and didn’t feel like I was using all of my talent and creative juices – it sounds cliché but I knew that I was destined for something even bigger and hadn’t found my real calling. 

So, after 16 years I finally decided to lean the career ladder against a whole new wall and start my own business to capitalise on the wealth of experience and knowledge I’ve gained! 

2.     What did you do to prepare to start your own business?

Now the wrong side of 30 I’ve been really fortunate to have worked in multiple industries for a range of entrepreneurial companies and experienced numerous roles.  I’ve met a diversity of characters along the way and worn many hats.  My personal hobbies and interests are varied and I know my strengths and where I struggle.  I also have a family of three children which has taught me a whole new perspective on what I want from life and my career. 

I see it that I’ve been in training for almost two decades and I’ve found the sweet spot where my passions and skills collide with an opportunity to provide a service in high demand.  I knew I wanted to help people, share my insight and ideas and continue with my alchemistic tendencies to create and inspire; so, I became a fully qualified Executive Coach and Mentor and developed my confidence and experience by working pro bono with small business owners looking to grow their businesses. 

3.     Which aspects of your business did you need help with? Where did you get that help?

My business has been in the making for many years, I’ve just never had the courage or financial means to get on with it.  I knew it would happen one day so several years ago I started to explore sales and marketing methods because I know how important it is to work on your business as well as in it.  I’ve developed an almost geek like obsession for online marketing strategies and even travelled over to the USA to a number of seminars.  Simply put – I LOVE it!  Ironically this new self-acquired know-how boosted my corporate career even further! 

I’ve joined a number of local and online groups to network, learn and share ideas.  I’ve also hired a coach and a number of experts to help me fine tune my knowledge and mindset to facilitate my self-development and confidence.  I also read a lot of books and have developed a knowledge bank of useful information, hints & tips, materials, quotes, case studies and memes. 

I’m also fortunate enough to have the support from my husband and family who themselves made sacrifices (mainly materialistic and financial compromises) to enable me to sack-off my career and commit full time to my real ambition.  Of course, they have gained in the sense that they have got back their wife and mother because rather than rocking in at stupid-o’-clock after another endless meeting, I am now able to pick the kids up from school and be home to greet my husband after he’s had a long day at work.  And to me that is priceless because I have never been able to do that before.

4.     Describe what your business does and who you target it at / your ideal client

My business is called ‘Absolute Boss' (tagline: Superior Rules for a Standout Business). I transition ordinary businesses and average entrepreneurs to become extraordinary at what they do and become the standout player in their market. I swipe and deploy ideas and strategies from other niches/ industries with my own twist to get ahead of the competition (side effect is disruption and intrigue)!  Positioning, proposition and route to market are my speciality.

5.     What is the most rewarding thing about having your own business?

The most rewarding thing about having my own business is that I have created something that allows me to harness the full extent of my skills, creativity and natural inclinations.  In my corporate roles, I’ve felt fairly suppressed but now I’m in full control of my own self-development which enables my inquisitive and energetic nature to blossom.  I also love being able to fully influence my own future and reach my potential – it feels liberating and powerful!  I can make decisions based on intuition and impulse.  I don’t need to get anything signed off by the board… I got it!  Scary as heck, but also fun and adventurous! 

6.     What has been the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge has had to be with my own mindset and self-confidence.  Rewind just 30 days prior to the launch of my business, I felt physically sick at the thought of having to sell and overwhelming self-doubt that anyone would want to pay for my services.  I’ve been doing a lot of work on slaying my self-limiting beliefs and banishing my fixed mindset that led me to think I’m not capable.  If ever I do have to say “I can’t do it”, I now add the word “YET” on to the end.  I’m pushing my boundaries and moving out of my comfort zone all the time and with this I’m re-training my thought processes.  I’ve also learnt (as Susan Jeffers says) to ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway!’.  As a result, on day one of being in business I had my first sales meeting.  On day two I sealed the deal with that client. 

7.     If you could go back and give yourself some advice what would it be?

There will never be a perfect time when everything is in perfect alignment to start a business.  I faffed about for far too long with making sure that I had plans, systems, finance, support, reassurance, a safety net, business name etc. etc. in place.  I should have known long ago that the right time is now.  A sapling of an idea, a slither of confidence, and a big dose of intuition is all that is necessary to be in alignment.  The rest is already within you to be explored, nurtured and allowed to be let out.

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