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What does it take to make a leap of faith in your business life?

October 20, 2020 / JENNY STILWELL

This will be the fourth time in my career I’m going to make a leap of faith. For me, these leaps occur at times when I just can’t keep doing what I’m doing any more. I have to step away and leave. As I write this, it’s 5.49am. I’ve never been an early riser. But when you’ve been tossing and turning for literally hours, the only relief is to get up, make a coffee, and start writing.

My stomach is firing with nerves and agitation. It’s been raining all night, and normally the sound of the rain would send me to sleep, but tonight it is too heavy, too loud, and contributing to my general feeling of unease.

Time to give in, creep out to the kitchen, pat the dog who is both confused and excited with my early appearance, and make a coffee.

Having done this soon to be four times, I should be very clear on why I take these leaps and what I need in order to do it. So I share this with you in the hope that it helps give some clarity and confidence to follow suit when you think the time is right.

1. Belief in yourself
This sounds obvious, and it is, but you really must be rock solid in your self-belief. I remember a long time ago when I was in a job that I had grown to dread after the company had been taken over by a completely different culture. It was in the midst of a bad recession and everyone was warning me off taking the leap. They were right – there were no jobs in the market at the time and none that were right for me. I went to see a recruiter who I knew well and he told me not to do it and to wait. I said I was going to start a marketing consultancy. I had no experience as an entrepreneur and no clients to kick start my consultancy with, but I knew I could do it. The recruiter didn’t have any jobs for me and before I left his office, reiterated that I should wait and not leap.

Not long after I took my leap of faith. I set up my new business and called to tell the recruiter what I had done. But he wasn’t there. He had left that company to go and set up his own recruitment firm! I ended up building a successful marketing consultancy I ran for five years. During that time, the recruiter sub-let some space from me when he needed an office.
Believe in yourself!

2. Know you are marketable
This really relates to the first point and helps promote your self-belief. When you have valuable skills and experience that makes you marketable. If you have an agreeable personality, are diplomatic, have a sense of humour, present well and have general all-round positive qualities, you are marketable.

For those with little work experience, you may have life experience that gives you an edge over others who don’t or who haven’t tried to gain experience even in part-time jobs or voluntary work.

For those re-entering the workforce or changing directions, don’t let anyone try and typecast you because of their lazy thinking processes. Skills are transferrable. When you’re surrounded by experts in different areas, you don’t necessarily need to have the same expertise. Life experience and general business experience can make a person more flexible, adaptable and useful than the person who is a narrowly focused niche expert.

It’s all about positioning! How you market yourself will determine how marketable you are. Think outside the squares and reinvent yourself and your positioning if need be.

3. Call on your network
Whether your network is your school or university alumni, previous work colleagues, business associates, suppliers, ex clients or customers, they are all valuable assets for you in taking the leap.

When I started my marketing consultancy, I had never done it before and I had no potential clients I could start up with.

So you need to start talking to everyone you know and tell them what you’re doing. Keep it very clear and simple. If they don’t understand what you’re doing or looking for, they won’t be able to help you.

It’s essential that you help your network in return when they need it. That’s what lifetime associations are built on. Being there for each other.

Remember too that it won’t always be your direct network who can help you. They may refer you to other people you haven’t yet met who may become part of your network in the future.

It sounds old-fashioned but it isn’t. Do you have any real friends who you don’t know in person?

So get out there and talk to people. If it has to be zoom or a phone call, start with that, but nothing beats in-person contact. That is a fact.

4. Focus on what you want post-leap
You don’t have to jump into something else straight away if you don’t want to or need to. Sometimes the best thing is to take time out to unwind and regroup.

When I took my second leap after having run a public company with a challenging board during the dot com frenzy, all I wanted to do was learn how to roller blade and be able to do it along the beach path with the wind in my hair.

I thought after I left that I was okay, but I realised that it took me a few months to really unwind. At the time I described it as feeling like a floor mat that was slowly unfurled until it was settled flat on the ground. Then I was ready to go again.

Whether you want a break, or to jump into a new business venture, or to try something different, the excitement of what you want to do next will be the driver behind your leap.

Like a thirsty dog with a bone…you can’t have a drink unless you drop the bone.

5. Be decisive
For those of you who struggle with decisions, taking a leap of faith into the unknown is probably not your thing.

For those who have ticked off the top four points and are confident that the leap is the right thing to do, then don’t procrastinate.

Decisions have their own momentum. I don’t know how it works but I know from my own experience that as soon as I have made a decision, the universe seems to move things around and reposition everything. This is all part of the momentum to take you across your leap of faith to a landing where you will springboard into the new.

You will know when you’ve made a real decision as there will be no wavering and no more considerations or ‘what if’ thinking about it. If you are still pinging backwards and forwards in your thinking , you haven’t yet made a decision.

When you make a leap of faith without a safety net, it is your decisiveness that will power you to the other side.

So when you have these five things all lined up, jump!

You will be laughing with joy and happiness when you land safely.

Trust me, I know…