It was the 1980s. I was 31, wife, mother of two small children, pregnant with my third child and slowly working to build my own business from home. I loved being my own boss. I was working harder than I had ever imagined I was capable of but I had a nanny and was able to organise my hours so I could spend time with my family when it worked best for them.
Having the freedom to set my own hours was definitely one of the perks of my job. Answering letters (there were no emails then) and reading contracts after the children had gone to bed was a small price to pay for having control over my own time.
We were publishing novels and I decided to expand our range by exploring some cookbooks. The only problem was I didn’t know the first thing about how to do it. A colleague in publishing recommended her friend to me as a suitable editor. We hit it off and she joined the team.
After a couple of weeks, she said it might be more productive for her to work on the books from home. And aside from a monthly meeting, that was the last I saw of her for the next few years. Of course, we spoke on the phone a lot but there wasn’t an actual need to meet.
Gradually the team expanded and we were joined by a publicity manager and a sales manager. Both of them also saw the benefits of working from home. We would all gather once a month for a meeting in person. Everyone loved having the opportunity to control their own time.
As an entrepreneur I had understood the value of freedom at a very early stage. I had been able to work the hours that suited me and my flexibility enabled us to have a company culture where I recognised that if my colleagues had the freedom to control their own time, these clever experienced people would be happy to carry on working with me. And so it proved. Twenty years on we were all still working together as a team and the company had become a global enterprise. Our years of working flexibly also meant that we understood how to make it work not just for ourselves but also for one another and the expanded departments we were managing. We understood the importance of trying to lead our lives with as much freedom as possible and this became a key value in our company culture.
Takeaway: Being your own boss is the best kind of freedom and if you can let this trickle down to your staff as well, you will build trust and loyalty throughout your organisation.
Ahead of Her Time: How a One-WomanStartup Became a Global Brand by Judy Piatkus is published by Watkins and is available from amazon and all good book stores as well as online and in audio.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy Piatkus is author of ‘Ahead of Her Time; How a One-Woman Startup Became a Global Publishing Brand’. Judy is an entrepreneur, publisher and business coach specialising in conscious leadership. www.judypiatkus.com