One year in, what have I learnt?

Chloe Hooper
By Chloe Hooper | 22 August 2022
Chloe Hooper.

Chloe Hooper, Founder, BareFeat

This time one year ago I went on a journey, a journey that found me seeking my purpose outside the four walls of my APAC Head of Marketing position I found such pride in, outside the world of pitches and award entries, outside of a work life that supported me in more ways than one- a work life that I loved. Outside of my comforts and commonalities.

Something I hold close is the advice I’ve held close for many years, “do the thing that scares you most”. In fact, the quote is written on the leaving present I was gifted from work. It has officially been one year of doing the thing that scares me most.  

I began writing this reflection piece for myself but in the post pandemic world, I am sure there are many people considering making the jump to self-employment or entrepreneurship. For this reason, I thought I would make this public.

For anyone considering packing it all in and riding solo. These are the things I have learnt along the way. My LinkedIn feed is inundated by people who have chucked in all in, quit their jobs and are now #livingtheirbestlives, showing all the positives. But today, I hope to give you the raw and real honesty and clarity of the situation, provide some balance with reality.

You probably care about your job title more than you think.  

Letting go of your job title is embarrassingly harder than you think. You can feel quite exposed. I never thought I gave a shit about my job title, often asking people to ‘call me the sweeper’ when others began the conversation around titles and role names. Personally, I thought it was always about the job I was doing rather than what I was known as. But with brutal honesty, it was hard to let go of when push came to shove. You have nothing to hide behind after that.

After my final goodbye to my job title, I regret not removing it sooner. So much of my identity was caught up in the work I was doing that when the time came, I had to dig deeper to understand who I really was underneath. I grew in ways I’ll always be grateful for.

Let’s talk money.

There are some fantastic financial benefits to being self-employed, but there are some downsides.  Besides the comfort and stability of receiving your monthly wages, there are other things to consider that fall into the financial differences of going out on your own. You no longer have access to all the great benefits that come with being part of a large corporate.

Instead of being funded for these expenses, I now spend $200 a month on my business coach and $250 a month on my therapist. My annual bill for my own personal training and development is also quite costly. I always took advantage of these services when I was employed, but more than ever I would urge people to make the time to take advantage of these perks whist you have them. They are a part of your package, you deserve them and even more, you’ll realise the value of them when you are fronting the bill.

I could pen another article entirely on the torture of tax, but I’ll leave that for another time.  

Feedback suddenly hurts.

Setting up a business is scary – it is one of the most vulnerable things you can do. It can feel like you are selling yourself. As the compliments, gratitude and positive feedback rolls in it feels elating, happy smiles for days. In my first 3 meetings with CEO’s they all used the same phrase ‘you made me think differently’. The consistent feedback provided some reassurance and confidence in my decisions. I have been fortunate that my ‘no dickhead clients’ policy has paid off and any constructive feedback has been amazingly helpful.

But… it still hurts. Thankfully, before I started Bare Feat, I did a lot of work on the fear of rejection and I couldn’t be more glad I did. You care so damn much about getting it right, that’s for sure. It becomes personal. But as you overcome each hurdle you learn to silence your inner critic, push past your fear of judgement, and lean into your fear of failing.  It’s not as bad as you think.

So if none of this has put you off, then below are my top tips for getting yourself started:

Capture your thoughts.

I wrote myself a letter before I started and I’ve revisited so many times. The note to self reminds me of WHY I decided to do this in the first place.

On the days where you feel a little lost, hearing from your previous self gives you the courage you need to continue. 

Define your purpose.

I found it impossible to work without a clear purpose. Whatever you call it – purpose, vision, mission, your WHY. You need it as you grow, your direction and your blueprint.

It becomes the basis for every decision, action, and reaction.

Make sure you can clearly define your intentions. 

Do what you love.

Kicking off my shoes, creating experiences, running workshops and solving challenges is what I love.

There were more lucrative business ideas I had but being clear on what I love doing and that my skillset can have real impact has been the motivating force.

I do enough work in the mental health space to know that a successful business is one that creates happiness, it’s not always worth compromising what you love for profit alone. 

Build your network.

Start building your network before you leave your current role.

I can’t recall all the moments I have thought how blessed I have been with so much support from people around me.

Comments from my network such as: ‘I put your name forward to run some training for our team Chlo’ ‘let me introduce you to someone who I think can help you’ ‘I’d love to hear more about what you are doing in case I can help’.

I would not have had the year I have had without the support of cheerleaders actively listening for opportunities for me. 

Nothing is finite.

As I blew out the birthday candles of Bare Feat’s birthday cake, I can confidently say it has been the best decision I ever made. Whether or not I may make the walk back into a corporate role again, I will be better at my job than I ever would have been if it hadn’t made this move.

I’m happy, I’m learning, I’m one year in.

For right now, I will continue to do the things that scare me most…


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