I Quit My Job to Follow My Dreams: From Employee to Entrepreneur (Part 1)
At the end of June 2021, I quit my stable job at the language academy where I had worked for 7 years to pursue a radical dream of leaving the city, returning to the land and embarking on a new vision for myself and the world.
When I took that leap of faith, I had no doubt that I was doing the right thing. I fully believed in my dream. Nothing or no one could have convinced me otherwise.
I hatched a vague plan to fast track my way out the city and began to try my luck teaching online.
I am now one and a half years into this new life. I am free of the morning commute, the hot, stuffy staff room with no windows, the need to organise my breakfast and lunches in advance and eat them out of a plastic tupperware box in between classes.
I have said adios to the staff room politics, the pointless report writing and the lack of autonomy over my timetable and life.
Most importantly, I have said goodbye to the chain that tied me in such a visceral way to the city.
But is it what it has cracked up to be, this autonomous life as an online English teacher? Is this what I had dreamed about when I set off on this journey to forge a new path towards the countryside?
In this post, I am going to explore these two questions and bring you up to date with what happened next after my last update on my work situation in June 2022 “Living with Uncertainty: Have I Gone Mad?”.
After my stint back in the UK over the summer and the crash landing into the reality of my life, not to mention my Argentinian in-laws putting a spanner in the works, here’s what happened next.
I never in a million years thought that I would one day be starting my own business. Becoming an entrepreneur was never something that was even on my radar.
I considered myself an educator, having always worked in teaching in some way, shape or form. My job was to teach students. The job of finding the students was not a concern of mine, and I liked it like that.
So when I entered the realm of dealing with prices, sales strategy and onboarding students, I felt like a fish out of water. Now the job was not just about teaching but also finding people to teach! Yikes!
I was well out of my comfort zone with all of this. Yet, this is what I had been wanting, a fresh challenge that enabled me to grow and evolve.
Truth me told, I was both excited and scared witless.
I had never imagined that one day I would be working for myself. But if others could do it, why couldn’t I? My life had taken me down a path I had never expected, and even though I was scared, I felt up for the challenge.
At least that was until, after a month and a half of cohabitation, my in-laws finally left, meaning I had no more excuses and finally had to sit down and get to work.
That’s when the tough reality of being out on my own in the world without the comfort blanket of a monthly paycheck really hit home.
I had gone from a straight-laced Brit working in a respectable academy in an equally respectable neighbourhood to earning my money where and how I could. In short, I had become what in Spanish is known as a ‘buscavidas’, someone who makes their money in any which way they can.
At this point I had a handful of students that I had picked up here and there: a mixture of ex-students from the language academy, students that had been passed along to me by helpful ex-colleagues, neighbours children in who came to my house for group classes and the odd student that I had picked up from an advert I had put up online.
Low Budget Lifestyle
Due to the low rent we pay for our small warehouse-cum-flat, I was able to get by with this quite easily. Whilst it wasn’t enough (somewhere around 650 euros), I was still able to do the things that I enjoy without having to worry (the benefits of having inexpensive hobbies and tastes).
Despite my low income, I was quite comfortable as I tried to figure out how to do it all better. Maybe even too comfortable. Perhaps one could even say that I was coasting a little bit, feeling like I had it all under control.
Which we all know, is when the Universe steps in and pulls the rug from under your feet. Which, unfortunately for me, is what happened next.
Scarcity vs Abundance
Suddenly, two students cancelled their classes out of the blue, taking a third of my small income with them. Now I was officially barely making ends meet, having barely enough to pay my rent and bills.
This, just in the run up to Christmas too. One of the worst times of the year to be trying to get new students and also one of the worst times to have no money. I tried to keep a cool head and stay out of the kind of thinking that fuels scarcity and lack mentality.
I was not going to die
I was not going to be out on the street.
I still had some savings in the bank (which admittedly were slowly decreasing but I decided not to worry about that just yet…).
In short, we had everything we needed and more in this moment.
Everything would be ok.
Or so I tried to tell myself.
Fear and Insecurity
In search of a quick solution, I paid for my advert to go up to the top of the list on the private teachers website I had been using but to no avail. It was the run up to Christmas after all. Who would really be taking up English classes just before the festive period? No-one.
It seemed as if the entrepreneurial dream would have to wait until after the new year. I decided that I may as well just accept my fate and enjoy a low key Christmas without falling into stress and worry.
This was a good opportunity to practice abundance mentality. I practiced being present with everything that was available to me in the moment, appreciating the small things, letting the Universe fill my cup on the inside.
Whilst I didn’t push the boat out on anything lavish, I still went now and again to my favourite cafes. Indeed, my life is such that I could have a lot of money or no money and you wouldn’t see much of a change in my lifestyle.
That’s not to say that I found this situation easy. There were many times that I felt overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, desperate, depressed and even ashamed of myself.
I felt like I was groping around in the dark, worried that I was going to be lost there forever. All my courage and bravado that I had felt when I initially quit my job seemed to have disappeared. I felt like a failure and my self-esteem plummeted to rock bottom.
Right Place, Right Time
Then one day, I was aimlessly scrolling Facebook feeling rather down and dejected, when I saw a post for an online teaching position, giving classes in El Ministerio de la Transition Ecologico (The Ministry of the Green Transition).
It was with an online academy that sources teachers for business as an intermediary. Whilst I knew that any job with an intermediary is going to be less lucrative than finding the students myself, I thought that it could be an interesting opportunity. So I decided to send them my CV on the off-chance that I was in luck.
Around the same time, I was once again scrolling Facebook when I came across an advert for a free ebook for online English teachers.
It was by the English teacher-entrepreneur coach James Liu. Curious to read more, I downloaded it. It was clear that this guy knew his market well, as I resonated with everything he said. Not just that, but I could see that his strategies made a lot of sense.
After some careful consideration I decided to make the investment and take part in this 21 day Teacher-Entrepreneur Challenge, which was due to start December 1st 2022. I thought that this would give me the push in the right direction I needed and help me get prepared for the new year.
If I knew then what I know now about what was in store for me in the following months, I wouldn’t have been so tense and anxious about the future and instead just enjoyed the time that had been afforded to me.
Because little did I know how much my life was about to change.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this story!
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