“I was feeling disillusioned. I've always been hardworking and driven. But... there was no room for progression.”

Image of Lesley collins
From Marketing to Health and Wellness

When Lesley Collins saw a friend building a successful business of her own, her curiosity was sparked. Here's how she learned to navigate the naysayers and build a new career on her lunch breaks.

What work were you doing previously?

I worked in marketing, with Renfrewshire Council, within the arts and museums service.

What are you doing now?

I'm now a network marketing professional, in the health and wellness industry.

I have a business (like a franchise) with a company called Arbonne.

Why did you change?

I was feeling disillusioned.

I've always been hardworking and driven. But local authorities were making cuts at the time and there was no room for progression.

I realised that I needed to channel my ambition into my own thing.

When was the moment you decided to make the change?

I'd watched a very good friend and her mum start their own businesses with Arbonne.

I was initially sceptical: Would this work? Could I do this? So, I did what most people would do – I watched from the sidelines.

However, their business went from strength to strength.

A year and a half in, I decided I needed to do my own research. Once I'd taken the time to understand the industry and the company, and to see what had been created and what was to come, I was in.

I actually built my business alongside my marketing career to start with. I've always been a little risk averse and I loved that I could build it that way. I left my job within two years. I've now been five years self-employed.

Are you happy with the change?

Very happy.

It's the best decision I ever made.

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

There are lots of things I don't miss!

Mainly, I don't miss my schedule being decided by others, and my income and potential being dictated by someone else.

To some extent I miss the routine – I found creating structure quite difficult when I left my job to be self-employed.

How did you go about making the shift?

What I liked was that I could build my business around my 9–5 job.

I was willing to make some sacrifices of time short term to be able to get more time back long term. I'd run my business on lunch breaks, after work, and some weekends. I was working hard but I was loving it. And I was gradually seeing the dream become a reality as my income started to creep up over the months. I waited until I was earning more from my business than in my job before I left the 9–5.

By the time I was leaving employment to pursue my business I was just so confident that I was making the right decision. I absolutely loved what I was doing and was earning more doing it – so why wouldn't I?

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

This isn't a full-time, 9–5 job.

And I think because the 9–5 lifestyle was drilled into me I tried to make my business operate like that.

Sitting at my makeshift desk in the house, making myself get up 'for work'. That's good to an extent – you have to be disciplined. But my business is sociable, lifestyle based and will never be a desk job. I've quickly become used to working fewer hours and having more time freedom – it's definitely something I love about my business!

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

I earned a double income for a while – running my business alongside my job.

And I waited until I was earning more from my business than the day job before I made the leap.

What was the most difficult thing about changing?

Probably walking away from a career that I'd studied for four years to embark upon.

But I think too many of us stick with what we studied just because we feel we owe it to ourselves to do so.

What help did you get?

The way the Arbonne business model works means that we are mentored along the way.

I've been fortunate to be mentored by one of my best friends and have received lots of support from family and friends along the way.

What resources would you recommend to others?

I used to roll my eyes at personal development and self-help books. Now I'm a self-confessed personal development junkie!

Immerse yourself in learning: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers are some of my favourites.

What have you learnt in the process?

While I've received so much support from people around me, I've also had many naysayers who told me that this wouldn't work, and criticised my path.

The network marketing industry is, unfortunately, still very misunderstood. One of my biggest goals is to educate people on the credibility and worthiness of this industry as a career choice.

I've learnt that when you're embarking on something new, there will always be people who don't support you or unwittingly dent your confidence in what you're doing. I'm confident that this says more about them than it does about you. I've learnt to ignore it and be headstrong.

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

You've got to be thick skinned and tenacious in business. Be confident in the path you're taking.

What lessons could you take from Lesley'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 [email protected]. and you could win a £25 / $35 voucher in our monthly draw.