Today we have another interview with a microbusiness owner – Izzy McCrae. Izzy is a wellbeing coach and app designer. She talked to us about how those careers fit together.
Tell me a little bit about what you do.
I am a coach, app designer and wellbeing teacher. I'm really interested in what practical things people can to do increase their happiness and enjoyment of life. My app is designed to help people be happier by cultivating gratitude, through recording three good things that have happened every day. Most of us are naturally inclined to focus on the negative - we could have had a great day except for one argument, but at the end of the day it's the argument that sticks in our minds. This exercise helps to reverse the balance. The app makes recording your three good things into a game, which I hope will make it more fun and help people keep up the practice.
When did you go into business, and did you leave a traditional job to do so?
I worked for the Foreign Office as a diplomat for 13 years, before leaving at the beginning of 2015. I did postings in Washington DC, Islamabad and Rome.
What were the driving forces behind your setting up on your own?
One of the driving forces was that I wasn't happy at work, and I didn't want to do another posting abroad. I started meditating in 2012, and I think that helped me be braver and more logical about my choices. When I left the Foreign Office I only had a vague outline of what I was going to do, but I had a financial cushion, and the confidence in myself that I would fall on my feet eventually. I was also doing an MBA part-time which enabled me to meet some wonderful entrepreneurial people, and brainstorm ideas for what I might do next.
How did you make your business happen?
It's still work in progress! I guess one foot in front of the other. The most important thing has been to maintain the confidence to keep going, and have a clear financial plan for how to support myself. My network of a few key friends who give me advice and support has been crucial.
Why do you choose to be self-employed?
It sounds cheesy, but by being self-employed I can do what I care about most and what makes me most happy. I'm able to truly be myself, and I find a huge amount of motivation comes from that.
Where did you find the most support – financial, mental, in business?
Financially, the support comes from the fact I worked for 13 years first and saved. I guess I'm also very lucky that I bought a flat at the right time. Mentally, the base of my support came from a 10-day silent meditation retreat I did before I left the Foreign Office. It sounds a bit extreme, but having so much time to think in silence gave me a lot of confidence in my decision to leave and try something new. I'm also really really lucky to have wonderful, supportive friends.
What has been your biggest obstacle?
My own fear.
What has been your greatest achievement?
I'd say it's that I'm happy and enjoying myself despite the fact there is so much uncertainty in my life. I also have a huge sense of achievement when someone tells me that I've helped them.
What impact do you want to make and what results do you hope your work will have?
I hope that the app, the coaching and the wellbeing courses will help a lot of people to be happier. I also hope that I will be able to make a sustainable living through it all.
What does being 'small' mean to you?
I guess a one-person business is certainly small. I wouldn't want to work for a big organisation again unless the job was very specific because my experience of big organisations is that they end up creating their own force of gravity and being too internally focused.
Do you plan to grow your business? If so, what does growth mean for you?
Ideally yes. Growth would mean the ability to hire wonderful creative people to enhance my ability to create products and services that make people happier.
What do you think events like Small is Beautiful might offer for someone like you?
A chance to put lots of creative and innovative heads together and see what they come up with!