Where did it all start? This crazy ride of self employment and entrepreneurship?
Well once upon a time, there was a princess called Penny Davis and she had everything her heart desired. Top of the range German cars, her own house, a great career in IT (an award winning sales person), an expense account, regular fabulous holidays, success and a not really a care in the world!
That was me, I regularly travelled for my work, Copenhagen, Las Vegas, Madrid, Amsterdam and visited my team in Dublin regularly (there is a rather funny story about me doing a one woman sit in on a Ryanair flight coming in to Manchester one morning but I will save that for another time!) the list went on and on and we really did work hard and play even harder! I carried sales targets of anywhere between $7,000,000 – $20,000,000 per annum and I loved every minute of it.
And then there was Brexit ☹
Then Brexit was voted for and initially I was hit quite hard, my global accounts stopped spending almost overnight, my numbers plummeted, I missed my sales target (almost unheard of). It made me think for the first time in a long time about if I wanted to continue with my career in IT, I didn’t like the feeling that I wasn’t in control of my own destiny. It was odd as I had never wanted anything other than to work for a big corporate as the pampered lifestyle really suited me. But I had been working very hard in the background to set up and build up my husband’s business for the last year, Davis Permanent Cosmetics and I had also been working incredibly hard in my spare time to gain my skin qualifications as I always had half an eye on coming in to the business in some capacity, at some point. I was serious about skin and had already hired someone to deliver skin services in DPC and with one of my bonuses invested around £12,000 in machines, training and taking a member of staff on. I fantasized but I couldn’t ever really imagine my life without my huge 6 figure salary but it didn’t stop me from thinking about it and preparing for that time in my head. You will see it when you believe it…
Back in the fold!
As things turned out, my accounts soon picked up post Brexit and the company I worked for made a big acquisition in the market and exciting times were ahead and I was on the up again. As with any huge change, opportunities arise and as my colleagues around me were getting made redundant, I was in a strong position to make a move into management. After investing so heavily in setting up our own business, the idea of a generous redundancy pay out was very attractive to clear those debts incurred and with the added bonus that it would take the decision about leaving out of my hands. But that was not on the cards for me, I had a big decision to make for myself.
I thought long and hard, I sat and ran the numbers on the business and to my amazement, I noticed that the figures for one of Phil’s very busy months was nearly the same as my quarterly bonus (after my 40% tax)! Now don’t get me wrong, my pay was all mine and the business number was only revenue which of course is not our profit but seeing those kind of numbers was very encouraging. I either had to stay at my current job and start climbing the ladder there, it would have meant being away a lot and leaving Phil to it and hope DPC kept growing without as much input from me….. OR I had to walk away from the career, my reputation and salary I had worked most of my adult life to achieve. If I made the decision to leave it did have to be mine and mine alone, I had to take full responsibility and make it work because I wanted to. Sink or swim, it had to be on my head!
A new beginning
Well you know what happened, I did leave my job!! My Manager could not believe it, my colleagues were shocked, just no one could believe it as I was always so dedicated to my corporate master and enjoyed the golden handcuffed hold it had on me. I was consistently one of the top performers, an actual award winning Sales Person. But I said goodbye and I have never looked back!
Cars Scmars 😊
How did I manage to adapt? Considering that I never really knew when pay day was and never had to think about when money was in the bank, buying whatever I wanted when I wanted, it was time for a completely different way. New Mercedes or BMW? No problem, it was just what day could I test drive as I always just bought it on that day. I only ever kept my cars for maximum of 2 years as I would tire of them and start eyeing up the latest models when driving up and down the motorway every day. At the time of me leaving corporate world, I had only had my brand new Mercedes GLA for a few months, which was a very modest car for me as I was ‘downsizing’ as when we had set up Phil’s business, we had spent a lot of money on the clinic renovation. In my mind I was really doing my bit buying a ‘smaller’ car but now I really had to think about having a genuinely much more affordable option ie not £700 per month!! So I ‘traded’ it in for a 5 year old much smaller car but had to put all of the outstanding finance from my new Mercedes on it. I was paying rather a lot for my lovely new old banger – still, I proudly felt that having a smaller, less expensive car was my self employed badge of honour and still do. I used to care so much about that stuff but it just didn’t matter anymore. I had gone from being, essentially a flashy sales wanker to a proud business owner.
Selling my jewelry
Things were hard, I remember having to sell all of my gold to make ends meet (apart from my wedding rings), we cleared out the loft and sold everything on eBay – ski boots, Nintendo, golf clubs, TV’s it was actually amazing how much stuff I had up there.
Nice would have been nice
I also remember we had booked to visit our friends at their home in the South of France, we had our flights to Nice and were so looking forward to it. We were renovating our fourth room in DPC as we were really busy and needed to convert the store room in to a treatment room. Our last penny went on that but as a result we couldn’t go to France as not only did we not have enough money to put our three dogs in to the kennels for those few days, we didn’t even have enough money to get a taxi to the airport never mind buy our friends a meal or a drink to thank them for their hospitality! Of course our friends wanted to help us, said they just wanted to see us and money and food was no problem they would feed us and look after us but our manners and our pride wouldn’t allow it.
There was no way we were going without being able to buy them meal. So we lost the £370 on our flights, we were gutted but sacrifices had to be made. And sacrifices kept being made – we can laugh about it now and you know what, we did at the time too.
Good for the soul
Yes not having a holiday for 3 years was hard, working 7 long days a week and waking every morning and juggling money around the accounts and living hand to mouth was tough but it is very good for the soul. I had been so wasteful in my affluence. Don’t get me wrong, I had always been incredibly grateful for what I had, always giving a lot to my favourite charities, treated my friends picking up the bills and funding lots of things for other people but my new found austerity made me realise that it was absolutely fine not to have fresh long stem Lilies delivered to my house every week. I could manage without buying a brand new car every couple of years, and even not being able to buy any clothes for a year (other than work uniforms which were immaculate). For all the sacrifices and making do at home, it was always because the business was prioritized, no corner cutting, we were still investing everything we made back into the business.
Spring in Paris
We took on staff, we were finally starting to make a bit of money but not a huge amount but I remember our first break away to Paris, it was amazing. We roughed it a bit and budgeted like crazy but it was amazing and it was such a novelty to be away! We continued working our backsides off, investing back in the business then finally at around the 3.5 year mark, we started to become more comfortable, we had some money, we could buy food and clothes again without fretting. We finally got our house completely decorated and even hired an Interior Designer to do the lot. Our house had been looking so worn out and tired.
A change is as good as a rest
Again in my ‘old’ life every couple of years I would just clear all of the furniture out, sofas, beds, tables whatever and just buy the whole new room from the scratch just giving it all away to make room for my new tastes at the time. As I often had time on my hands working from home, I genuinely enjoyed putting a room together but hadn’t done this for around 6 years and the house looked done in! We deserved it, my goodness did we! But this is not the end of the story, we still work very hard to grow our business, keep our clients and staff at the front of our minds.
If not now when?
Our clinic is thriving and growing. I did manage to get our business turning over 6 figures within the first two years of trading. We then restructured and rebranded the businesses and split them to allow for specialising in our respective areas (permanent makeup and advanced skin) and we continue to grow, work on our profit margins whilst serving our clients and retaining great staff. Training and enhancing our skills is a priority and money will always be ringfenced for training every year to enhance our client experience, to be the best we can be.
My Penny Dee Ltd coaching business is a dream, it came about as so many of my peers and friends were constantly asking how I had built and grown my brand as quickly as I had (it didn’t feel quick to me) so I used to spend a lot of time helping those people. The buzz I felt helping them get their businesses working correctly with my guidance but it did get to the point where I was spending so much of my time doing this, I thought I should probably get paid for it so decided to set up my new business. I have had a business coach myself from day one of business ownership, I couldn't afford it then but I figured I couldn't afford not to. I might have been an accomplished business woman but business ownership was all new to me. I had to learn new skills and adapt the ones I had. So Penny Dee was born!
I enjoy the challenge of finding balance in running my beloved clinic and passionately helping others find their love for their business and getting them happy and profitable. I see alot of salon and clinic businesses becoming so resentful of their clients and it’s usually because the business has not actually made clear their policies (be it cancellations, booking fees, generally under charging) so owners get burnt out and fed up. Hearing from my clients about how differently they feel about their businesses with my training and support, changed their mindset around money and success, how I have given them the tools to succeed and helped them fulfill their true potential just makes it all worthwhile. The long days, the expert level multi-tasking I do, putting my different hats on. I have written a book, sold out my online courses, I do public speaking and have a number of consultancy clients that keep me on retainer and as I type I have just agreed to partner with an amazing female in this industry and our new venture of hosting and presenting our own live training events are on the horizon – watch this space!
If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger
Business ownership can be very challenging, some of the crap that gets thrown your way as a business owner, well you couldn’t make some of it up. Dealing with people and the challenge of how some of your old friends or family drift away as they don’t understand your life and your commitments anymore. Then there is the challenge of dealing with predominately a female industry – avoiding other people’s dramas can be an interesting ride to navigate.
I used to work with all men, the IT industry was mostly male dominated so drama, bitchiness and frankly some quite bizarre irrational behavior I have witnessed from the beauty industry as we have become more stable and successful has been quite saddening. Yes, in the ruthless world of sales it was fast paced and competitive but thankfully I worked with some exceptional people, managers and mentors who are still very good friends to me today. I was taught to help and mentor whoever needed it, there was healthy competition but never that untrusting undercurrent from insecure women who simply view me as a threat, no matter how much I have helped and supported them and how good intentioned I am. They have projected their ugly, petty jealous natures on to me and I have pulled plenty of daggers out of my back. You will be lied to, you will be let down by those who work with you or for you, you will have disputes, you will feel alone, you will feel that some days the whole world is against you, you will have competitors copying you, you will get bad mouthed from pure jealousy, people will waste your time and so on and so forth. That is business ownership. For that said, I have met some awe-inspiring women, some new real friends who are pure joy to be with. Those women empower, inspire, support me and the respect and comradeship we have between us is both heartwarming and energising, The other good news though is for every hurdle you clear, you grow a bit bigger, a bit wiser, more accomplished. It’s not that you become hard as such but you do become hard to it all and not in a bad way. You start to see that often it is their shit, not yours and really just pity them and move on, head held high and with wisdom that you simply cannot buy!
The next chapter
So where are we now? We are so happy, one of my goals of self employment was spending more time with my husband and absolute best friend in the whole world, Phil! Even when it was really hard, I mean harder than I could have imagined we still found the humour in our brutally skint but sometimes ludicrously funny situations. We laughed and we never lost sight of the fact that we were building something special and we were doing it together, we believed in us. Because you know what, no one died, we would wake the next morning and try to do a bit better than the day before. We now get to combine both our working and social lives together and for us that is the biggest win of all.
We have changed, we have grown, we are more grateful now than we ever have been, we speak our affirmations out loud every morning. Even on our toughest of days we love our lives. We give to charity and perform random acts of kindness if it is in our power. We laugh every single day.
So the point of my blog is, you can change your life if you want. It is all there for you, you just have to believe that you can. It is all about mindset. We live a long time these days, many are not getting pensions in their 50’s 60’s or maybe the 70’s who knows now. We no longer have one eye on retirement in our late 40’s. Many people are changing careers like I did in my 40's. There is so much I want to achieve and as we have another good 15-20 years to work, I know that I want to have fun and make some serious money whilst doing it.
I know it is scary, as I was preparing to change my life forever, two sayings rang around my head, day and night. ‘Do or do not, there is no try’ – Yoda and the other was ‘You only know if you can fly when you jump off that cliff’ – Penny Davis. I did fly, I am the Queen of my world – Skin Queen, Business Queen, most importantly I am Phil's Queen.
I know you can fly too.
Penny Davis (Penny Dee)
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