Risking it all to follow your passion

Many people would love to be brave enough to take the step from a comfortable job and a familiar environment into starting up their own business, but fewer people actually make it happen.

Perhaps because often there can be a number of external pressures such as family expectations or existing financial commitments which are strong pull factors that cause the individual to think that its “safer to stay with the known, even if it’s not satisfying, than to make the move into the unknown of being a business owner”.

This article profiles two women – Jemima Codrington and Neeraj Tyagi – who have taken this risk, even though they were in successful well-paid jobs.  And as a result they are both now more fulfilled and making money.

The tipping point

Jemima Codrington
Jemima Codrington

For Jemima Codrington writing has always been a passion, and she wanted to be able to do this for a living. Having lived her formative years in Canada she initially began her writing career in an affiliate marketing company, and worked on campaigns for international brands including Nike, Under Armour and Victoria’s Secret.

She then moved into the newspaper publishing sector and seized an opportunity to interview Richard Branson for an article that was then translated into three languages and appeared all over the world. Whilst the job had some editorial elements, it turned out to be mostly sales, which Jemima found was not her area of strength.

The more she tried to deliver results, the more stressed she got.  Eventually her health began to suffer, and Jemima realized that it was time to get back to doing something that she loved – which was writing. With some help from her friends and family, she worked out that she could earn the same amount of money working in a restaurant in the short term – whilst she developed her plan to set up as a freelance copywriter. So she took the plunge and left. Jemima has now been in business as a copywriter for over 12 months establishing a strong reputation with clients around the world.

Neeraj Tyagi
Neeraj Tyagi

Risking it All

The motivation for change for Neeraj Tyagi was somewhat different to Jemima, as she was in a job that she really enjoyed. However, Neeraj, co-founder of Green Latte is not typical of most women in India.

In 2000, she started her first job at a salary of 50 dollars per month commuting 2 hours one way. Having been brought up in Delhi, her curiosity drove a desire to work for a multinational and to learn more about international business. She developed a career in programme management, working for the multinationals such as RBS and General Electric, and thoroughly enjoyed her job.

Along with the professional growth came personal growth. She contributes this personal growth to travelling, reading and self realization of unlimited potential. The concept of ‘unleashing power within’ fascinated Neeraj and she had begun the journey of adventure via Green Latte.

Traditionally Indian parents work to educate their children, who then see their role as one of “giving back” to support their parents in later life. This means that individuals don’t necessarily realize that they could manage their own lives differently, and perhaps achieve more than they previously imagined was possible.

Drive by the desire to help others explore their potential, Neeraj and her co-founder Vivek both took the difficult decision to give up well paid corporate jobs to start their company.  Whilst it might be argued that the sensible approach would have been for one to do so, and have a safety net of the other’s salary, they both strongly believed that if it was to be successful, it needed both of them devoting 100% of their energy into the new venture.

Moving to the place of most potential

Having met both women there are some commonalities in their behaviour. Both have a high degree of confidence that things will work out, and it is this confidence and self-belief that is a characteristic of many successful entrepreneurs that I have interviewed.

Whilst questions and challenges from friends and often family members can often be the most difficult to deal with when starting up a business, both were prepared to go “against the grain” and do something that was not the norm within their family. It is interesting that both of them have now moved to new geographical locations – Jemima is now based in Edinburgh and Neeraj in Mumbai.

Thinking big from the start  – and believing it

Another characteristic that helped them to take the risk was to think big from the start. Both businesses are focused on making not just a local impact, but a global impact.  And as a result, when you dream big, evidence shows you are far more likely to achieve it or at least move some way towards it, and accomplish more than if you had set yourself a smaller goal at the outset.

One example of this approach is Leslie Meingast, founder and CEO of TPD, headquarted in Canada, who was featured in the Growth Story, and has achieved dramatic growth for her global business based on the ability to “think big”.  The potential danger is however that entrepreneurs can get disappointed when the speed of growth is not as quick as they may have expected.

Using technology to build a broad network

Finally, both entrepreneurs skilfully used social media and technology to build a network and establish a positive reputation for their businesses. Codrington is one of the top rated copywriters on People Per Hour, and regularly gets five star ratings for her customer service.  This freelancers website enables her to work with clients all over the world, and her network grows.  Green Latte has used Linkedin and other social media to connect with key influencers in the personal development industry as they continue to establish their business in India.

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