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What qualifies me to do what I do...

I am a magazine publisher and run my own business ‘All About Local Magazines Ltd’ since the beginning of 2009.

But what qualifies me to do what I do?

A few months ago I listened to an inspirational talk of my mentor and mastermind group facilitator Miranda Jenkins at a 4N networking meeting. She made us all think what qualifies us to do what we do as entrepreneurs, and the question stayed with me ever since. It is why I now sit down to write. Because years ago, when I went to school, then to university and started my working career, I never thought I would end up being a publisher. 8 years ago I still did not know I was going to be a publisher, the thought had not even crossed my mind!

When we are young it is not always clear what path we are going to take. Although my brother who was always drawing from the moment he could hold a pen, is now an animator and runs his own business successfully. And my sister who was always interested in children, is now a child psychologist and runs her own business successfully. I wanted to be something like a biologist, but at high school my lack of comprehension of physics was not enough to get me to pass the right exams. That door closed for me, which was not easy. In the end I settled for Cultural Anthropology, where I specialised in project development. My aim was to work in Third World Countries, running projects to help others. But after a 6 month stint in Shri Lanka for my dissertation I realised I wanted to work closer to home. I started my working career in hostels for abused women and children and went on to work in a variety of voluntary organisations in The Netherlands and England. I loved my work, which got me to work with blind children, carers and eventually with a wide variety of community groups. In my last job I was employed to set up and run a support organisation for the voluntary sector in Wyre Forest. For seven years I thrived in this role.

But then my eldest son started school and I had to change my course again. I wanted to be there for him and his brother, take them to school, pick them up and care for them after school. Something that was not possible when working an hour away in Kidderminster. I had to come up with an alternative that would allow me to work from home. After working as a consultant, advising on and working with the voluntary sector, the irregularity of income and work was not suiting our lifestyle. I needed something that was regular and secure. And with a lack of local part time jobs that would suit school hours, I had to come up with my own plan.

Searching the internet looking for ‘working from home’ options I came across the concept of community magazines. Back then in 2008 the industry was still in its infancy, with only a few publishers that had started about three years before me. The word ‘community’ was what attracted me to the concept. I never saw I had to sell advertising to make it work. I saw that I could serve the community, including the business community, like I had always done, but make a living out of it at the same time. The business model is simple – sell enough advertising to pay for the printer bill and you can start. But what qualified me to start a publishing business? I had never published anything before, I had never sold anything before, I had never designed anything before … or so I thought. I certainly did not know if I would enjoy doing it. And what about running my own business?

So what does qualify me to do what I do now successfully for over 7 years?

I believe it is an accumulation of all the things I have done before, but applied in a different way. It is the total of a variety of transferable skills all coming together to make it work. It is opening new doors using what you already have.

It is about finding my passion and selling that. No hard sell, but offering an option to businesses to promote themselves locally.

It is using my project development skills to plan, to develop and to finish every magazine – all of them little projects in themselves.

It is using my strategic and management skills to move the business forward, to manage finance, to manage staff and delegate.

It is a great way to express my creative skills. Instead of going to drawing classes I now design adverts and layout magazines, which I love doing. There is nothing better than finishing selling and going into creative mode!

It is using my experience of running a voluntary organisation to now run my own business. It is following in my mother’s footsteps, who ran her own business. Like my brother and sister did before me.

And it is serving the community, something I set out to do when I had to change course as a teenager. The magazines - we publish 4 titles now - support local voluntary organisations and community initiatives at no cost and get distributed to local homes and businesses for free.

So of course I am qualified to do what I do! And where I started on my own with my computer just over 7 years ago, I now find myself employing six people, including my husband, working from home, being there for the children day in day out.

I am Dutch and we Dutch are often known for our pragmatic, no-nonsense approach. Not sure whether that fully applies to me, I might have been in this country for too long, but this saying describes my journey well:

When one door closes another opens.

Or you can open a closed door. That’s how doors work.

Of course you are qualified to do what you do, as long as it is with passion and dedication, combined with a strong believe in yourself. Go for it!