Don’t Tell Me I Can’t… Start my own business at 47!
Sherry Cannon-jones explains why it’s never too late to follow your dreams
For some people, their lightbulb moment happens in the middle of a meeting, for others it’s an epiphany in the night – mine came while I was scrolling my way through emails.
Alone at the laptop, suddenly it dawned on me, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was going to set up my own business – and I wasn’t going to let the fact I was 47 stop me.
I’d worked as a primary school teacher since my 20s. I loved my job and had two sons – Jackson in June 1996, followed by Louie two years later. After separating from their dad, life as a single working mum wasn’t always easy – but we’d share the chores at home and spend weekends as a family. I met my now husband Scott in 2011 and when he proposed in 2015 I felt like I had it all.
But then in March 2016 my mum Jean got pneumonia. After staying in hospital for several months and surviving a mini stroke, she passed away that October. I was still grieving when my dad had a heart attack. As he recovered in hospital, it became clear that he would need more help at home.
Dad moved in to live with us, but I knew holding down a full-time job and being there when he needed me would be impossible. Something had to give. With Scott’s support, I handed in my notice at work.
Almost immediately we noticed the financial impact. With just Scott’s wage as a crane supervisor and the boys still living at home, we knew our savings wouldn’t last long.
But I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Looking for motivation, I began reading a book on mindfulness. I found it so intriguing, I signed up for a course. It was so helpful – it felt like the mist was clearing.
I started to think about what I was good at, and what I loved – helping others. One day I saw some information about coaching through a network marketing business. ‘I’m going to start a coaching business,’ I told Scott, later that night. ‘I want to help people rediscover what they want to do with their lives.’
He thought it was a great idea; but Jackson, then 21, and Louie, 19, were a bit more sceptical! ‘Do you really think it’ll take off?’ they asked.
The truth was, I wasn’t sure. After all, surely most people start new businesses in their 20s or 30s. But I knew I’d regret not trying.
To get started, I used savings to hire a designer who built me a website and a social media coach to help increase the interaction on my Facebook and Instagram pages. Being part of the network marketing company also helped me make better connections.
I ploughed £1,500 into the new venture. Of course, I had some doubts. A nagging voice in my head made me question myself. ‘Nobody will want me to coach them,’ I’d worry. But I had to practise what I was preaching and apply a positive mindset. Word about my new venture spread across my social media platforms and in December 2017 I had my first client.
I knew that in order for my business to take off, I needed positive testimonials. So I didn’t charge my first few clients.
I worked with each one individually and, if they needed emotional support, I drew on my skills to help them.
In December, my story was published in Mumpreneur on Fire, a book featuring 20 stories about inspirational women.
Five months on, I love being my own boss. I work around seeing Dad, and when I get emails from clients, telling me I’ve helped them change their lives, there’s no greater sense of achievement. A year ago I was the one who felt lost, it just goes to show how quickly things can change – for the better.
‘I love BEING my OWN Boss’
Sherry wanted to help people the mum-of-two is now a successful life coach