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Perspectives

How I made the jump from full-time employment to starting a business of my own

self-employed gardener
Harry Compton, Gardener

Two years have now passed since I made the decision to embark on my gardening business venture. Now, in short, the very definition of the noun ‘venture’ probably best describes those last two years: ‘A risky or daring journey or undertaking’. Starting a business certainly has been a whirlwind journey with many peaks and valleys. However, it’s a journey I’m so grateful for as it has taught me more about business, people and life than any classroom could.

I always thought about starting a business of my own and be my own boss. But as I graduated university that idea was pushed aside as I just wanted to get to work and start earning. This led to my first full-time role as a Marketing Recruiter and later a Sales Executive for a large commercial cleaning company, both of which were very fast-paced and target-driven roles. Of course I am very grateful for these opportunities but they didn’t provide me personally with the job satisfaction I craved.

Enter challenge one: the leap into the unknown

It was clear that I had to start my own business, but the fear of leaving behind a monthly salary, company car and job security was holding me back. Luckily, the decision was made for me as I was abruptly made redundant. At this point I had no option but to either get another dissatisfying sales role or chase a dream. Of course, after many hours of internal debating, I chose the latter. Therefore, I didn’t actually make the decision myself to take the leap – I was pushed!

"It was clear that I had to start my own business, but the fear of leaving behind a monthly salary, company car and job security was holding me back."

I come from a long line of horticulturalists so when deciding what type of business to start, for me it was very clear. I wanted to be outside, doing something physical and getting maximum job satisfaction – all of which gardening provided. I used my savings to buy all the things I needed to get me started: a van, high-quality tools and equipment, business insurance and so on. I was ready to go.

Challenge two: knowledge

Although I had a better knowledge of horticulture than most 22 year olds, I still had a lot to learn. I knew that if I wanted to have a sustainable and profitable business I needed to invest not only financially, but in myself as well. As a result I booked myself onto as many relevant courses as I could, read multiple books and spent countless hours watching Gardeners’ World (a nice change of pace to Game of Thrones)! This particular type of investment has been the most valuable for instilling confidence in myself and my service, and being able to radiate that confidence to my clients.

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In conclusion, the best pieces of advice I can offer anyone thinking of starting a business from my first two years of self-employment would be to take the risk, be patient and invest in yourself. Yes, regular pay days and company cars can seem alluring, but for me being master of my destiny outweighs that. If you do those things outlined above, be prepared to work harder than ever before but also be prepared to be happier and more fulfilled in return. Enjoy the venture.