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Top 10 Tips To Becoming Self-Employed

Written by: Joanna Stokes, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


In October 2019 I quit my permanent full-time job in Further Education and became self-employed. It was the best decision I have ever made. This article is for you if you want to change your career and start your own business.

Since leaving my permanent job, I have qualified as a professional coach with Diplomas in Personal & Corporate Coaching under my belt. I have learnt how to have an online presence and not to worry about it, I have become a mentor for a young woman as part of The Girls Network and I have started my own business in the middle of a pandemic and never been short of work since colleges re-opened in October 2020.

Still, I won’t lie – it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

My income stopped in April 2020 as colleges closed and I had to claim Universal Credit for 4 months. I have worried myself into the ground about being able to set up on my own, trying to grow my network, having to invest heavily in digital software and hardware to run an online coaching and training business from home.

However, I have done it!

I’m in my third year of my own business, My Coach Joanna and I have doubled my turnover. I work on average 3 days a week, take 14 weeks of holiday a year and chose who I work with. There are days when I still have to work on my money mindset and remind myself that I am worth it, but they are getting less and less. Overall I have never looked back and would do it all over again (maybe just without the pandemic part!)

How did I start my own business? Here are my top 10 tips

  1. Connect with people; keeping in touch is vital. I learnt how to connect with people effectively on Linkedin. I kept in touch with colleagues past and present on social media and by email. Having conversations regularly with people meant I came to mind when the time was right.

  2. Be visible online. I learnt how to be visible online authentically, sharing experiences, asking questions, and growing my network. Never underestimate how many people read your posts and the impact it can have on them.

  3. I said yes a lot! In the first year I said yes to all sorts of work, some of which I enjoyed and some less so. This not only gave me an income but also increased my visibility, grew my network, and showed people the impact my work could have on their workforce. Repeat business has been the reward.

  4. Invest in yourself. I realised I needed help and support to grow my business, so I joined business communities, trainer networks and coaching programmes. Sometimes the investment was financial, other times it was my time. I have never regretted any of them and have learnt so much about myself and how to build my business. Through joining a variety of programmes, I have now found my community and continue to gain huge amounts of knowledge and support.

  5. Invest in digital software, equipment, and training. As the world moved online, so did I. I purchased microphones, cameras, a better laptop, and a backup, a second screen and did so much CPD to ensure my online facilitation skills were as good as they could be. I knew that the virtual world was here to stay and, whilst I now do work with people face to face, at least 50% of my business is conducted via Zoom.

  6. Set yourself goals and regularly review where you are with them. I used a free online planner from The Coaching Tools Company to review my previous year and then set goals for my new year, breaking it down into quarterly and weekly actions. Using reflection and goal setting ensured I remained focused on the purpose of my business and where I wanted to be.

  7. Ask for help when you need it. You can’t be an expert in everything, sometimes it is best to hand over some of the tasks to someone who is. I have used a Virtual Assistant to create professional documents that I needed for clients, this freed up my time and skills to be of better use elsewhere.

  8. Slow down to speed up; You need space in your head to think clearly and make big decisions. I now make sure I have reflection time every day, week, month, and quarter, this is invaluable, and I have reaped the rewards.

  9. Believe in yourself! I have invested in coaching programmes to help me build my confidence in running my business. It really does work.

  10. Don’t give up; if it was easy everyone would do it.

If you want to know more about my journey, then read my story here. If I have inspired you to start making a change to your career then reach out to me and let’s have a conversation.

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Joanna Stokes, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Joanna Stokes is transformational leadership and career coach, and a trainer and mentor to further education leaders. She has 18 years of experience in Further Education, the last 8 years as a senior leader in a variety of organisations including the CEO of an adult education charity. She was an Ofsted Inspector for 5 years. After experiencing the powerful impact coaching had on her career her mission is to spread the power of coaching across the sector. She coaches education professionals and trains workplace coaches and mentors. She qualified as a personal performance coach in 2020 and is now on a mission to help education professionals create the freedom to live the life they want.



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