From Working 9 to 5 to Building Your Dream Business

From Working 9 to 5 to Building Your Dream Business

What would your life be like if you transitioned from working 9 to 5 to building your dream business?

A lot of us dream about quitting our 9 to 5 jobs and building a business of our own.

So, what if the dream became a reality? What would your dream business look like, and how would you make it work to allow you to live your best life?

In this podcast episode, Clarity Junction host, Gillian, chats to Anna Fairs about how she made this transition from working in a demanding, highly stressful job and never having time for her son, to building a successful business that allows her the freedom and a lifestyle that she always dreamed of.

Listen in to hear Anna share her advice and tips on how to begin the entrepreneurial journey for yourself.


Meet Anna

Anna is a bookworm, tree-hugger and tea fanatic, but more importantly and artist, photographer and branding strategist.

Anna helps female business owners create more impact and success by taking them from a relative unknown to a highly visible sought-after expert.

How to Contact Anna


Gillian Duncan 0:00
Hello and welcome to this podcast from Clarity Junction. On today's show, I will be chatting to Anna Fairs. Anna is a self confessed bookworm tree hugger and tea fanatic, but she's also an artist, photographer and branding strategist.

Every day Anna helps female business owners skyrocket their success by working with them to develop a brand that will take them from being a relative unknown to highly visible sought after expert.

Anna is a strong believer in following your life's purpose and taking action to achieve your dreams in life. Today, she shares her personal journey to becoming a successful businesswoman along with the lessons she has learned along the way.

So keep listening to discover Anna's story and the advice she shares with other women who may be thinking of setting up their own business. 

My name is Gillian Duncan, Positive Life and Wellbeing Coach, inspiring women to lead the life they want, and I am delighted that you're here with me today.

Welcome Anna. It's great to have you as a guest on the Clarity Junction podcast today.

Anna Fairs 1:18
Hello, thank you for having me. It's really nice to meet you.

Gillian Duncan 1:21
Thank you, Anna. You're here today to share with us what it's like to go from having a 9 to 5 job to setting up and running your own successful business. Now, over the years times have changed. And with the progress of technology, in particular, the internet, this has made it a lot easier to be able to set up and run your own business. This has become a financial lifeline to many women, especially those with children, as it gives them the freedom to choose where, when and how do they work. I know that this is one of the reasons why you left your 9 to 5 job, so I'd love for you to share your story to everyone.

Anna Fairs 2:04
Yeah, no, I agree with you that I think we live in an incredible time, and we have so many opportunities to do things and live our lives differently to you know, perhaps, you know, our mums or or their mums. So no, it's, I'd love to talk to you about all of this. So, I'd wanted to have my own business for ages actually, and, but it always kind of got put off, and it was always something in the background. But life is so busy, and you end up going through the motions. The day to day, going to 9 to 5, which me wasn't a 9 to 5, it was quite a demanding job, and you always feel that it's something else you should be doing and that there should be more.

Gillian Duncan 2:45

Anna Fairs 2:46
And, we could carry on like this. In fact, I was listening to a TED talk the other day about procrastination, and I think that he kind of ended up saying by, you know, if you, life's short, really and you need to kind of grab hold of it. But, it's easier said than done, and sometimes it takes a big life event to kind of shake you up. And so this is kind of what happened to me. So, my Dad, my lovely Dad, he died six years ago, and I sat with him for the last two weeks of his life and shared lots of stories. We did some 'bed boogying', actually he was a big dancer, and we we listened to lots of music, but it was, it was heartbreaking actually, to watch this man who had such a zest for life say goodbye before he was ready. And the one positive thing that does come out of it, though, that I did take away from it was, it gives you some perspective and I just thought I don't want to get to the end of my life and regret not having gone for my dreams. You know, really gone for them. And I'd had this idea for a T shirt business, and after Dad died, I did, I just threw myself into this idea with my T shirts, which all had an educational theme for children and, and that you know, that's what kind of got me started on that journey.

Gillian Duncan 4:01
Anna, thanks so much for sharing that's, that part of your story with us. It's very moving, and I'm sure a lot of people listening can truly appreciate that journey that you've just been on with losing a loved one, somebody so close to you. And the positive aspect that has actually taken to your life has been amazing. A situation so sad and such a, a loss to you, you have managed to take that and turn it into a positive event. You've taken the essence of how you feel about your own life, and how short our life is, and turned it into something that you, as I say, feel more positive about going forwards, that gave you a focus point. And you're actually going for one of the dreams that you wanted to have in life, which is absolutely amazing. And so, I take my hat off to you for having that strength to continue and to go forward with that. Now, I know that you were taking this business with your T shirts and had it as a sideline, you had your own full time job and you had your T shirt business as well. So, at which point did you think, 'Oh gosh, this is, you know, this is maybe too much for me I need to choose one or the other'. What was it that made you finally quit your 9 to 5?

Anna Fairs 5:21
Yeah, it's quite funny. I can remember the point distinctly. So, I was sat in my bed, working on a presentation at 3am in the morning. And I've just been off work. I'd been ill, physically ill I, looking back because I was burnt out. I was doing stupid hours. And I'd gone back to work and work had given me another large client to work with and I had to go up to a big meeting, prepare presentation. So I was working on this presentation last minute, trying to put it all together, and, and I was having to leave Charlie. So Charlie was, I'm a single mum at the time and I had an au pair that was helping me. I was in the fortunate position that I could have an au pair to help me. Didn't have any family locally. and I really needed somebody. But she'd actually told me she was leaving that day. I'd pocked my head around the door and she was leaving with no notice, and I was supposed to be up in Kingslynn delivering this presentation. And I just, I just thought, 'What the bloody hell am I doing with my life?', and I just thought this, this is no life. I haven't got a life. I don't see Charlie as much as I want to, I have to leave him sometimes before he's even woken up and get back just as he's going to sleep. And it's not the life I wanted. I wanted to be able to, you know, take him to school and be there to pick him up again. So I decided to, I decided that was it. I was, I was going to leave and I pretty much made my mind up that night and, and then handed my notice in the following week.

Gillian Duncan 6:45
Big scary decision for you. Very scary. Yeah.

Anna Fairs 6:49
It was. It was, I don't know, at the time I didn't know whether I was being silly or stupid or brave, but I did have a little bit of savings and I decided actually, to put the T shirt business on the back burner because it had been a side hustle and hasn't it hadn't reached, reached the point that I could support myself and Charlie. But I decided to go back to photography. So I actually had a photography business, when Charlie just after Charlie was born, that I had to leave and go back to the corporate world when he was two. And so I decided to go, to use my photography, because I knew that I could bring more money in with the photography in the short term, then perhaps pick up the T shirts later. But yeah, no, I went for it.

Gillian Duncan 7:32
So you were able to take a step back from your corporate job. You were able to rebuild the relationship that you had with Charlie and start to build your own business at this point, which was helping you to bring in some finances, being very lucky that you had some savings put by as well, which is really important, isn't it? When you you're thinking about starting up a business and leaving your career you, it's one of those things you've must have, isn't it, just as a backup plan, so it's something always to consider, rather than just walking out of your job. You know, that's not, not what you did. You actually had a little bit of cushioning behind you to prepare yourself for not having that regular income straight away.

Anna Fairs 8:15
Yeah, I think, I think it's important. One other thing, I would advise somebody is to try and have something there because the first you know, it is, it's tough the first few years of building a business. So yeah, it cushioned me. Probably not as long as I wanted. If I'd, looking back, probably would've been nice to have a little bit more, but I was at breaking point. So I just went for it.

Gillian Duncan 8:36
Yeah, you took the opportunity when you needed to. That's, brilliant. So, we're just talking about there just one of the lessons that, I guess, both of us have learned with setting up our own businesses. What has been the most important lesson that you've learned through running your own business?

Anna Fairs 8:51
Oh, I'd say there'e three that probably, I think are a key. So I think, for me, and this kind of comes back to you know, finding out what your, your dreams are and going for them, is getting really clear on what you're passionate about. What sets you on fire. Because, if you're going to run a business, you know, it takes some determination to really go for it. So, if you find something that you're passionate about, then it doesn't feel so much like work. I mean, you're always gonna have the days where it's harder, and tougher than others, but if you, if it's something that you're passionate about, that passion will get you through.

Gillian Duncan 9:23

Anna Fairs 9:24
And then mindset. Kind of keeping a positive mindset. My Mum always used to use the terms 'Positive Polly' and 'Negative Nelly', and they kind of sound silly, but I think there's a power in their simplicity. So if you keep positive, you know, keep your outlook your thoughts positive, then you take positive actions, creates positive feelings, which then again, creates positive thoughts. And you get this upward spiral of positive energy momentum, and that again, that I didn't realise at the time how important having the mindset piece was with running a business. I mean, running a business, it's just an incredible thing to do in terms of self growth, because you learn an awful lot about yourself. So they're the key things I've, that I think are really important.

Gillian Duncan 10:05
You know, you mentioned that positive mindset, it is really important, I speak from my own experience here, to have that while you're running a business, because there are days where you are, you know, it's not all joyful, you're trying to face things every single day, and being your own boss, you have to be, basically the buck stops with you, doesn't it? So you have to be the all and the end all, and you have to make sure you have the strength for that. The only way you can get there is by having that positivity and to keep it going. And don't get me wrong, they'll be days where you actually feel, 'Oh gosh, what on earth am I doing?', and just like anything in life really, you do have down days. Things are you know, 'I don't really feel like doing this today. This is a chore', but if overall, you are positive, it's so much easier to get back on that positive bandwagon, and it's easier when you've got that mindset and that path mapped out knowing why you're doing it. You know, at the end of the day, that's your story, isn't it? 'I'm doing this because...', 'I want to make a difference in the world because...', you know, whatever your story is, and whatever your passion is. If you don't have that passion, I wouldn't go there. I think that's sort of the big message, isn't it?

Anna Fairs 11:18
Yeah, I think so. Definitely. I know, some people, perhaps they don't advise to go after, you know, a passion with your business. But I, I don't, I don't know I could start a business that I wasn't passionate about.

Gillian Duncan 11:30
No. And that's why we come into business, isn't it? We come into business because we have something that we want to share with the world, because we feel so good about it. It's a bit, I always think it's a bit like teachers. And teachers go into teaching because they're so inspired and they're so motivated by the subject that they've learned, that they want to share that message to others and they want to get that information out to other people. They, and especially kids, they want to get, get them enthusiastic about their topic, and they want to share all that knowledge with them. And, I honestly think it's the same with business.

Anna Fairs 12:05
Yeah. It is. I think it's a calling.

Gillian Duncan 12:07
It's a calling. Yes. So, apart from being able to share what you enjoy doing and what you're passionate about, what is it really that you love about running your own business?

Anna Fairs 12:19
So, I think we've kind of touched on it before. It was that I can work it around Charlie. I love the freedom of running my own business gives me I, you know, I can juggle all the work, the clients I have, the work that I need to do, around Charlie. He's just actually started secondary school, so I don't have the school run as much as I did when he was younger, but I, yeah, I could start going to dropping him off at school and picking him up again. And I was so much happy that I didn't have to leave him with other people, that I got to do that. And he was so much happier too. So that was, that was a huge thing, to have that freedom. And then it gives me the freedom to be me. So when I was in the corporate world, though, I'd had a successful career, you know, as a career spanning 18 years, I always felt like an impostor. I always felt like a square peg in a round hole. And you know, it's taken me to 46, I'm 46 now, but I finally feel that I'm living an authentic life. And I know that word gets used quite a lot. But it really does sum up, sum up how I feel, that I'm actually being me for the first time, which is, which is lovely.

Gillian Duncan 13:26
Yeah, that's brilliant. You're actually doing something that reflects your own personality, your own soul, and what you stand for and what you want to do in life.

Anna Fairs 13:34
Yeah, and it's just, it's freeing because you can take the business in, I've got so many passions and interests and I can encompass those, you know, in my business, and, you know, I can, you know, I can go where I want to with it. So, and in fact, actually the, the opportunities and the people that I've met since I've had my own business, have been, you know, wonderful. I never would have met the people that I've met if I'd been in my corporate career. You know, I can be working with a psychic medium one day and perhaps a CEO of a business another day. I've been lucky enough to travel with the business. We've, and take Charlie with me, so we've been out to, we've been to Hungary and France and Romania, and we were in Lanzarote in the summer. So yeah, we've, we've been very lucky. And this never would have happened if I'd stayed in the corporate world.

Gillian Duncan 14:23
Sounds that you've had some fantastic opportunities.

Anna Fairs 14:26
Yeah, it's been amazing. And it's just started, you know, I just feel that it's only, I'm only just scratching the surface. That it is, it's seeing possibilities and being open to new possibilities. It's, it is, it's fantastic.

Gillian Duncan 14:38
It's like open a new box, isn't it? A box of surprises, and you don't know what you're going to get out of this box.

Anna Fairs 14:43
No, no, it is, it's wonderful.

Gillian Duncan 14:46
I have this wonderful opportunity through my podcast here that I get to chat with people from all over the world. And, as you say, in completely different backgrounds with completely different stories, and it is for me, that is such an honour, and it really makes my day. I am able to meet these wonderful new people and I form these wonderful friendships with them. And again, like you were saying, this is something that I would never have done, had I not ventured out, gone out of my comfort zone, gone with what I'm passionate about, and actually said, 'Hey, you know, do you want to come on to my podcast? And shall we chat? And shall we talk about some things and, you know, have some fun with it?'. This is just probably the best part of, one, well one of the best parts of my businesses. And it's just, yeah, I'm so pleased I've gone out there as well and done that. So it's great that we can find passion, and it's great that we can find things that we love in our business. And of course, if we don't find that and if we don't have something that we love in the business, then we really need to start thinking elsewhere, don't we? We need to start working, after it was our business and we need to find something that we enjoy doing or there's no point having it.

Anna Fairs 15:55
No way. Why would you? Why would you do some? Why would you have a business that you don't enjoy? I think this is where some people go wrong.

Gillian Duncan 16:02
Yeah. I think when people start up in business, they think firstly of the income and the money. And it is important. Of course, it's important, especially when you are a mum, and you've got, you know, kids that are relying on you, you've got a roof over your head, and you've got bills, and you've got mouths to feed and all that sort of, you know, the everyday stuff, you've got to take care of that. Yeah, sure you need money. But, if you are not in it for, as we were talking earlier, if you're not in it for the customer, if you're not in it for what you can do for other people, and what you can share, and what you can teach others and what you can bring to their lives, then, you know, whether that's a service or a product, then really, there's no point doing it. You've got to love what you do first.

Anna Fairs 16:47
Yeah, I think so completely. And in fact, you know that that comes on to one of the things I think we're going to talk about and that's what I, when I start working with clients, and it's the first thing I try to get clear with them is finding you know what their big why is, what their passion is. And you know, exploring that with them.

Gillian Duncan 17:07
And I think we need to ask that big 'why' in a lot of different areas of our life. So not just for women that are thinking about coming in, into business or have their own business running. We need to ask that 'why' all the time in life.

Anna Fairs 17:20
Yeah, no, I I love that. And so one of my dreams actually still, that I really want to tick off, is I'd love to have a camper. We did a lot of caravanning when I was a kid, and I loved it. And I'd love to, I'd like to really either have like a caravan or motor-home and travel around Europe. So I've seen quite a lot of the UK but I'd love to take like six months off and go around Europe with Charlie.

Gillian Duncan 17:43
That's a brilliant dream to have, isn't it?

Anna Fairs 17:44
Oh, yeah. It's got me thinking actually. I need to get that one back up near the top again of the list.

Gillian Duncan 17:49
Yeah, absolutely. And thinking about the listeners out there who might be thinking about setting up their own business. So if anybody's ever had an idea of setting up a business or, you know, they're on the fence, setting up a business. What advice would you give other women who are thinking about starting up their businesses?

Anna Fairs 18:13
So I'd say, you know, start, start taking some actions. If you've, if you've even had an inkling of a thought, you know, start exploring that thought. Start and you know, chatting to perhaps people that have started a business or chat to people in the area that you're interested in perhaps exploring, you know, take the class that you've always fancied taking. Even if it's just small steps to start with. I, you know, when I first was thinking about the T shirts, I, it was just initial just a phone call up to some t shirt companies that made the T shirts, just to kind of get a bit of information together. And you know, that was one step and then that little step leads to another step. And before you know you've got some momentum going. So I'd have, you know, start exploring what's possible, what you're interested in, and, and don't wait you know, too long. There is never a perfect time for anything. So you know, just start, start getting your ideas together.

Gillian Duncan 19:06
That's a really good point you've just made that there's never a perfect time for anything. That could be, you know, I think for mums out there, it's a bit kids as well you think, 'Oh gosh, well when I'm this age, I might be ready for my kids, or when my jobs at this point, I might be ready to have kids or if I've got a house and you know, it never happens that way. And even when you've got everything, all your ducks in a row, it's still not the right time. And so, if that's the case, then you might as well just go on and try it now. Get as much information, as you say, together, make some notes, start putting towards a very simple business plan, you know, because you still have to figure out where your money's going. That's the big thing, isn't it? Where it's going out or how it's going to come back in? And what clients are you going to have, who you're going to talk to who's going to be ideal customer? How you going to get your message out there? So yeah, get a book together. You know, there's a whole lot of beautiful journals, you can get out there and a fancy pen and sit down. Do you agree? Just to sit down and take some notes and put some ideas together?

Anna Fairs 20:09
Yeah, just, just dream and, and like we were talking about earlier, is look at your passions. Look at your passion and look at your strengths as well. You know, ask people what, what they perceive are your strengths. And I've got a lovely quote that I always think about and that's, don't ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that, because the world needs, what the world needs is people who have come alive. And that's a quote by Howard Thurman. And that just kind of, that's what I believe in you know, go do something that lights you up.

Gillian Duncan 20:43
That brings some excitement to the thought doesn't it? Sort of, yeah, as you say, it lights you up. It gets you all sort of enthusiastic about something. That's really cool.

Anna Fairs 20:50
Yeah, no, definitely. I think that you know, follow your dreams and find the thing that lights you up and then obviously, you've got to, you know, you get practical about it, and start putting all those steps in place, but find find what lights you up first.

Gillian Duncan 21:03
So Anna, I know that you have on your website, very handy workbook that people can go and access for free. And I'm sure that will really help them to determine what they really want to do in life, and particularly, if they want to start up their business, this should really help pull some ideas together. Would you be able to explain a little bit more about this?

Anna Fairs 21:28
Yes. So it's, so the workbook's called, '3 Steps to Unlocking Your Purpose', and it kind of goes back, what makes me think of a story of my Dad actually, again. So we used to drive in the car, chatting away to each other about life, the universe and everything. He was one of those really passionate, interesting people to chat to. And I was asking, you know, 'So what do you think the purpose of life is, Dad?', and I remember him saying to me, 'You know, it's whatever purpose you give it'. And I think, well, yeah, I really want to live a life of purpose. Want to have, you know, I want to make the most of this precious life that we're given. But I never knew then what I wanted to do, and it took an awful long time to kind of figure out what I wanted to do. So, one of the first exercise I do with my clients is helping them get really clear on what their big why is. What lights them up, and what they really want to do with their lives. Some people come along to me with so many ideas and what they'd like to do. You know, they need some help figuring out which way they want to go. Some people are desperate to break free from the 9 to 5 would love to run a business and they've got lots of talents and skills, but they're not sure where to go with them and what they could do. So this workbook includes some fun and kind of thought provoking exercises to help you get some clarity on what fires you up and some thoughts for the next steps. And yeah, I love this is one of my favourite activities I do with clients. It's really interesting and, and they they love working through this.

Gillian Duncan 22:55
That's brilliant. It sounds like it's a great place to start and pull lots have ideas together. And finding your purpose in life is not easy. Well, actually, some people find it really easy. Some people just are born and they know what to do. But sometimes you can go along and you're good at this, or you're good at that, and you enjoy this, and you enjoy that. And for a lot of people like myself, and like you just said yourself, we have a bit of a difficulty knowing which path to choose, and which one to go down because we maybe have a few options. So it's great to try and narrow those options down. And actually, almost like an outside person looking in, finding really what your strengths are, because we all have something that's a little bit stronger, and something that we're aimed to do in life more than another, but we sometimes, we're just so blind, we can't see it. We're sort of self blind. And we need that little bit of help and a little bit of direction for us to actually realise that. So having that time to sit down and answer questions, work through it, really sort of clear your mind and find that path that you want to go on is so important, because then we can make much better decisions on our future, and, you know, that path that we want to take in life?

Anna Fairs 24:15
Yeah, no, it's this lovely way of expressing it. You do, and it's, and it's important, we can put it off and we can put it off. But, you know, it's.

Gillian Duncan 24:26
Let's not let's just go for it. Just go and do it.

Anna Fairs 24:29
Exactly. Let's just do it.

Gillian Duncan 24:31
Yeah. Why are we putting off? There's no, there's no point to putting off. If we want to do something, find out some information. Put it in writing. Find out your purpose, you know, sort of piece everything together. Get that journal, like I was saying, get those notes down. Get the workbook that's on your website. Just start. Yeah, yeah. take some action. Do it today.

Anna Fairs 24:53

Gillian Duncan 24:54
There's no time like the present.

Anna Fairs 24:56
No, that's true.

Gillian Duncan 24:58
Anna, it's been wonderful chatting to you today. I will put all the links of your website and of, I know you've got a Facebook group and a Facebook page, so what I'll do is I'll put those links on to the show notes for this podcast, so that everyone here can reach out to you and find out more about what you do and who you are, and also to download that wonderful '3 steps to Unlocking Your Purpose' workbook. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. It really has been fun.

Anna Fairs 25:28
Yeah no, it's been lovely chatting to you. It's been lovely listening to your beautiful accent too.

Gillian Duncan 25:33
Thank you.

Anna Fairs 25:34
Your listeners are very lucky.

Gillian Duncan 25:36
Thank you so much, Anna.

That's all for this episode. My thanks to Anna Fairs for sharing her story and encouraging us to find our purpose and passion in life and motivating us to start working towards living this life.

To find out how to connect with Anna visit clarityjunction.com/businessdreams. Here you will find links to Anna's website, and the full transcription of this podcast. 

Thanks for listening. If you've enjoyed this podcast today, then rate it, share it and subscribe to it so that you never miss an episode. 

Remember to hop over to clarityjunction.com to find out more about our membership for women who want more from life.

You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Bye for now, and keep being awesome.

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