The Pivot – From pension metrics to supporting our ageing population

Career Pivot - Lyndsay

Lindsey Nathan shares how she made her pivot….

When Lindsey Nathan (36) worked in pensions, more often than not she suffered from the Sunday night blues. However, after a lightbulb moment at her kitchen table with her Mum one day, she now runs two successful businesses supporting the community. These days she is the owner and director of The Bespoke Care Company and founder & CEO of Close to Hand. This is how she made her pivot…

When I worked in the pensions industry I was living in London, I was newly married with a good social life but I just remember feeling dissatisfied in my job. I couldn’t really explain it at the time but I resented the fact I didn’t love going to work, it didn’t excite or fulfil me. I had followed the path of A-levels, university degree and I was lucky to secure a good job working in the government.

The main issue for me was I felt a bit disappointed at my lack of purpose. I had always imagined doing something more inspiring or serving some purpose but I felt like just another cog in the machine. I worked with some really great people but overall I just didn’t feel excited by it. At the end of every weekend I would suffer from the Sunday night blues.

I remember when my path started to shift focus, it was Easter 2010, and we’d been staying at my parent’s house for the weekend. Mum and I were at her kitchen table both venting to one another about our jobs. My Mum is a nurse by profession but in her later career was managing care homes. She was stressed and over-worked and couldn’t face the thought of continuing that way until retirement. She was talking about her desire to start up her own care agency and serve the local community. By the end of that morning, we had both made a decision to quit our jobs and set up a live-in care agency for older people.

Two months later, we launched The Bespoke Care Company and by August we had offices in Tunbridge Wells and had our first client! We did everything so quickly and as a result it didn’t give me much time to panic about or grasp what we had actually embarked upon. There was so much work to get the agency set-up that there was little or no time to think of anything else. I remember having a moment of panic when my last pay cheque cleared – the sudden realisation that wasn’t going to happen again any time soon. We had invested money in the set-up of the business and we had to be realistic that we weren’t going to earn any money for a while. That ‘while’ turned out to be a lot longer than we initially anticipated!

My husband was so supportive and continues to be. He knew how unsatisfied I was and because he genuinely loves his work, he wanted the same for me too. We had to take a big financial hit and it meant me working really long hours and driving from London to Tunbridge Wells every day. If it wasn’t for his continued support, I wouldn’t have succeeded and I certainly wouldn’t have gone on to set up my second business, Close to Hand, an online service connecting those looking for a helping hand to local people who can provide home help and companionship.

There have been so many wonderful things that have come out of my two businesses. I love the sense of achievement and ownership of my new path. I feel valued and I know our work is valued by others. We have been able to support hundreds of older people to stay at home, which not only makes a difference to their quality of life but it has a huge impact on their families.

If I hadn’t taken the leap to set up Bespoke Care, I would never have realised the gap that exists in the older market and I would never have created Close to Hand. I was able to see first-hand, through my work running the care agency, that there was a real need in our communities for ad hoc flexible home help that doesn’t involve professional care. That many people need some companionship and a little helping hand with small jobs around the home, such as housework, gardening, shopping, going on errands and meal preparation.

Before I started Close to Hand,  I was really struck by the high levels of loneliness faced by our older communities and felt compelled to bring local people together. I am also a Mum to two young children and many of my friends were telling me just how hard it was to find local, flexible work that they could fit in around the school run and family life. Close to Hand was a way to meet both these needs. I have created an online community that quite simply matches people looking for help to local helpers seeking flexible work that serves a purpose in their local community.

After making my pivot, I had a new-found confidence and so much pride for what we have achieved. It also gave me the confidence, knowledge and experience to set up the second business. If you’re thinking of making a pivot, make sure it is right for you and that it’s the right time. I think there is a misconception that setting up a business or going freelance is the easy option, especially for women who are raising children. It can be a ‘flexible’ option and whilst I don’t have regrets about leaving my job and setting up my business, it was all-consuming at times. However, saying that I love what I do and the sense of purpose and achievement I get from my work, that’s priceless.

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