Growing up in an environment where you hung on to any job at all costs, Rob escaped ‘career paralysis’ and now spends his time, far more rewardingly, helping others do the same.
What did you do before you started this business?
A very mediocre Management Consultant.
What inspired you to start up?
I was unhappy in my job for years but was also terrified of leaving the security of a ‘good’ job.
Part of the reason was that when I was growing up near Liverpool in the 80s unemployment was a huge deal. This forged in me a belief that a job was something to be grateful for and to hang onto at all costs. The fact I was miserable from day 1 didn’t come into my thinking.
After years of being trapped in this ‘career paralysis’ I eventually dragged myself into a new career and to my huge surprise set up a business almost accidentally, off the back of some slides I published about the psychology of stuckness. From that moment on I have loved what I do.
Tell us about your business in 100 words
Broadly we help two types of client:
The Career Psychologist are pioneers in using cutting-edge behavioural science in coaching and training to help people learn more about themselves, get unstuck and ultimately transform their careers.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
Granny, we help people improve themselves and their careers so they can get more out of life. (Sadly professional Cricketer / Footballer never worked out for me I’m afraid).
Where do you get advice, support or help?
Various: I get supervision from Emma Donaldson Feilder, who is brilliant.
I am also part of an amazing community of psychologists at the Association of Contextual Behavioural Science.
I find Twitter can be an amazing source of help and advice too (find me at @RobACareerPsych)
I’d better mention my wife too if this is going into print…
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
Start-up costs came from my own savings initially.
Since then we’ve not needed external investment as we keep costs low, and rely largely on our reputation / word of mouth for growth.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
At work it would be finding the courage to become an entrepreneur.
I am the most unlikely entrepreneur; the opposite of the Richard Branson type - selling sweets at the school tuckshop since I was 3 years old.
I am risk averse, pessimistic and introverted. Yet here I am working for myself for nearly a decade and I love it.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
We focus on the psychological factors that hold people back in their careers.
Our expertise is in helping people understand themselves better, particularly how their minds work and what is driving their behaviour.
Then we use using evidence-based psychology to help them make a plan to get unstuck and improve their careers.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
It’s brilliant. It’s given me a fantastic sense of freedom, responsibility, meaning and purpose.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
We will continue to grow, but growth will always be a secondary focus to our main mission, which is using psychology to help people transform their careers.
This is a mission-centred business. We know if we focus on that, everything else will follow.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Firstly, there is no ‘type’ for an entrepreneur. It doesn’t matter what age you are. In fact, I’m proud to be part of Management Today and Vauxhall Motors’ ’40 over 40’, a handpicked list of business men and women who are proving it doesn’t matter what age you are to change careers. With over 70% of 40-somethings looking for a ‘major change’, the research proves it’s not just millennials ready to change gears.
But second your doubts and fears are normal and we all have them. The choice is about how powerful we make them. Ultimately, who do you want running your life, you or your fears?
If you are willing to take a step towards your values in the presence of doubts and fears, then the world opens up before you.