From Business Management to Portfolio Career

“I genuinely thought I was the only person in the world to have made such a huge mistake with their choice of career.”

Image of Sheridan Hall
From Business Management to Portfolio Career

Sheridan Hall had sleepwalked into a career she never really wanted. But it was only when she found out she wasn't alone in feeling stuck that she began to believe it was possible to shift. Here's how she combined a cherished childhood memory with a financial opportunity to create work she's finally excited about.

What work were you doing previously?

I was a Business Systems Analyst / Management Consultant.

After graduating, I accepted a place on a training scheme at a Business Management consultancy in London.

Like many new graduates, I applied to every job advert I could find, not really giving a second thought to what path I wanted my career to go down. I knew quite early on that it wasn't really what I was meant to be doing. I had studied English Language for four years at university and loved every minute of it and yet there I was analysing business requirements in a corporate environment where I didn't fit in at all.

I moved back home after a year but still felt trapped. I could only get interviews for similar roles and so the pattern continued for the next few years.

What are you doing now?

I work as a part-time freelancer for a local business, running their social media marketing and writing copy for their weekly blog.

I spend the rest of my time building my little handmade card empire, Pink Pig Creative.

I've only been doing it for a little while, but I have big plans for the coming year and I can't wait to see what happens.

How did you feel in your work before you decided to make the change?

Lost and alone.

It wasn't until I discovered Careershifters that I even realised there were other people out there who felt the same as I did. I genuinely thought I was the only person in the whole world to have made such a huge mistake with their choice of career.

I would talk to friends and family about it and they would empathise, but it just made me feel worse knowing that they didn't really understand what I was going through.

Why did you change?

I just knew I couldn't go through the rest of my life feeling the way I did.

It's super clichéd but we really do only have one life – I was damned if I was going to spend mine living for the weekends and dreading Sunday evenings until the day I retired.

I knew I had to do something that would make me feel alive, fulfilled and proud to say I do what I do.

When was the moment you decided to make the change?

My husband and I moved to a new house last summer and I was going through a particularly stressful time personally.

We made a bit of money from selling our previous house and so together we decided that I would use my half to start my own business. I handed in my notice and took some time out before starting Pink Pig Creative later that summer.

I haven't looked back since.

How did you choose your new career?

The idea for my business actually came about entirely by chance.

I was looking for the perfect card for my husband's 30th birthday last year but couldn't find one that ticked all of the boxes. I wanted it to be simple and tasteful but special enough to celebrate such a significant milestone, so I designed a variation of one of the cards I sell today, which coincidentally accounts for over half of all my orders to date!

I always enjoyed making things. I spent hours as a child with my Nan cutting and sticking pieces of paper together to make cards for friends and family. In fact, my Mum's kept some of my early work. It just felt natural to turn this into a business.

Are you happy with the change?

I couldn't be happier.

Being in control of how I spend my time is the best thing about transitioning from a 9–5 to being self-employed.

Yes, it does add a degree of pressure – I'm solely responsible for making it work rather than just clocking in / out and getting paid for it – but I thrive on the challenge.

What do you miss and what don't you miss?

I really miss some of my old colleagues.

I worked at one particular place where I made some really good friends and it was hard to leave knowing that I might not see them again, but I do still keep in touch with some of them.

I absolutely don't miss office politics. I think it's inherent to office culture. When you bundle a load of people together that wouldn't necessarily have chosen to spend time with each other in the real world, there's bound to be some friction.

How did you go about making the shift?

I had been running my Etsy store on the side at the same time as doing my day job.

After I had proven to myself that there was a market for what I was making, I knew I could turn it into a full-time thing.

The biggest hurdle to overcome was my confidence, which I still struggle with now, but it's improving.

What didn't go well? What wrong turns did you take?

I think one of the biggest mistakes I've made so far is spending money on things I didn't really need, or product lines that I thought at the time would sell out in seconds and are still sitting in my office!

I'm trying to learn from these mistakes though so that they will make me a better business person in the long run.

How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?

I was particularly fortunate that I had some money to see me through the first six months of setting up the business without having to worry.

Then, a couple of months ago, I came across the part-time job I'm doing now and thought "This would be perfect for me!". Thankfully, the lady that runs the company agreed, so that's helped with my finances, too.

What was the most difficult thing about changing?

The most difficult thing is worrying about money.

Unless you're particularly fortunate in moving into a field that happens to pay the same or more than what you were doing previously, it's frightening to make the leap from a secure job where you know you're going to be paid at the end of every month to being self-employed and being entirely responsible for your own income.

What help did you get?

My husband has been the most incredible support.

Every time I've doubted myself, he's been there to pick me up and give me the confidence boost I needed to carry on. He has far more faith in me than I have in myself; quite honestly, I think that without him I would've given up on my dream a long time ago. I'm infinitely grateful for his love and support throughout this whole journey.

What resources would you recommend to others?

The Careershifters community has been absolutely pivotal in my career change.

Reading the Success Stories every week made me believe that if other people could make it work then so could I.

I also recommend How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric. I read this on holiday a few weeks before I handed my notice in and it filled me with the inspiration and confidence I needed to make the leap.

What have you learnt in the process?

Living your dream isn’t easy but boy is it worth it.

I completely underestimated just how much time and effort it takes to make a business successful. After all, you're the product development, operations, sales, marketing, finance, logistics and customer service departments all rolled into a single person.

But, because I believe in it, even the worst days are bearable because I know why I'm doing it.

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?

If you can afford it, hire a career coach to help you set goals and make yourself accountable.

It's so easy to think "I'll do this tomorrow / next week", but then it comes around and you're still no closer to reaching where you really want to be.

Also, reach out to fellow career changers for support. Sometimes it's reassuring to know you're not alone.

What lessons could you take from Sheridan's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at hello@careershifters.org. and you could win a £25 / $35 Amazon voucher in our monthly draw.