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Women in self-employment with Wisepreneurs’ Nigel Rawlins


If you've ever considered running your own business, or are self-employed right now, you'll know there are a whole bunch of challenges and benefits to this mode of work. Yet, for women in particular, there are plenty of reasons why you should consider taking the reins during your later years.  

We speak with Nigel Rawlins, the founder of Wisepreneurs and 13th Beach Marketing Services about the benefits and challenges of self-employment, especially for older women.

Why did you decide to start Wisepreneurs?

Wisepreneurs was set up to support professional women move to self-employment. I left teaching some 20 years ago to start my own business and floundered. Luckily, I met someone who knew better and he mentored me. He helped me identify a niche, which led to 13th Beach Marketing Services, where I provide practical marketing services to a range of local businesses. Over the last few years I have been working with professional women making the shift to self-employment. This is through coaching and working with them on an ongoing basis to create the marketing assets that attract their preferred clients.

Why focus particularly on women entering self-employment?

Women are more patient than men, and I work well with them. I collaborate with them to help identify their strengths and how best to use their knowledge and skills to solve problems that clients may pay for. Then we go about building up their knowledge of how a business works and how to become an influencer in their chosen market.

I work with professional women because they have the capacity to do this. A lot of older men want instant results and give up too early or just don't get the idea of collaboration and stick it out. It takes time, often 18 months or more. There are few overnight sensations.

What are some of the most common challenges women face when considering self-employment?

I think it is comfortably recognising their intelligence, deep knowledge, skills and capability. Then, how that might translate into a business they want to work and spend time in. Then, running the business and the promotion required to gain the clients or customers they want to work with. As they already have a busy life with family, friends and all the things they like to do, to consider starting a business they might worry how much that will impact on their time.

What advice would you give older women considering self-employment?

Trust yourself. Most women have very good communication and collaborative skills, and combining that with their knowledge can be unbeatable. They are used to getting things done. Seek help if you need it, don't try to do everything by yourself, as time is precious at this stage of our lives.

What are the benefits to running your own business later in life?

The benefits include more choice about what you do with your time and how you work. Self-employment shifts the value of your knowledge or know-how back to you. Often, older employees working in a job can be undervalued or overlooked or downright disrespected. The trade-off is having more control over your time and life, and the downside may be fewer earnings.

To be honest, part-time work in your late 50s and 60s is hard to find and often in retail. Getting enough hours is always a problem and the work can be exhausting. However, it may be a better option than working for yourself. You might use it as a transition while working out what you want to do or starting your own business.

What advice do you have for those looking to achieve work/life balance while running their own business?

We are now healthier, often wealthier and living longer than any previous generations. Hence, we need to consider what we want to do with the next part of our lives, possibly another 30 years or so. Earning extra funds through self-employment won't go astray. Keeping healthy, well and mentally alert is a part of the equation. The balance may be skewed at first towards putting in the hours and funds to set up a business then working out how best to keep it working and funding your lifestyle. Once it is rolling along, you get to have more choice over how you might want to spend your time.

Any other insights you'd like to share?

The time to start the move to self-employment was yesterday, as it takes time to make things work. It is better to start planning and working on the shift while still working, or close to when you decide to retire. Leaving it too late creates its own problems, plus you will need funds to make the shift to the next stage of your life. As Charles Handy writes in his book The Second Curve,"Doing nothing risks losing what you have".

How can people get in contact with you? Any upcoming events they can attend?

They can find me at wisepreneurs.com.au and at the 2017 Victorian Small Business Festival where I will be running a seminar on shifting to self-employment for professional women on Tuesday 15 August from 11am to 1pm at the Donkey Wheel House in Melbourne

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