Karren Brady’s career advice from becoming self-employed to being too honest

Apprentice star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.

Today she shares her top tips on how to start your own company despite the pandemic and helps an employee handle a difficult relationship with her boss.

Q) I’m not enjoying my job in IT any more and am thinking about leaving to become self-employed, as it will mean I have more flexibility and the ability to choose what projects I work on.

I think I’m at the perfect point in my career to do this as I’ve built up some really good contacts. However, my mum has said I’m mad to even think about leaving a steady, permanent position considering we are still in the middle of a pandemic. What’s your advice?

Lucy, via email

A) If you wait for the perfect time to start your own business or go it alone, you will be waiting forever! Having said that, I can also see where your mum is coming from. It’s nerve-wracking to think you will be leaving the comfort of a steady job with a regular salary, and of course she is worried about you (after all, she is your mother!).

But if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s to reflect on our purpose, values and the quality of our life. If you have a job that doesn’t fulfil you or makes you miserable, it’s bad for your health, self-esteem and confidence. I read recently that the definition of hell is that on your last day on earth you will meet the person you could have become. You will never know how good you are at something until you try, so my advice is to try.

But I would remain in your job until you are ready to launch your business – so when you do leave, you can hit the ground running. Work out what services you will offer, come up with a great company name, build a website, do some networking, and ask those contacts if they will have work for you when you’re ready.

You’re at an exciting stage of your life – start your own company and become the person you are meant to be.


Bossing It

Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.

It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!

Read more at Thesun.co.uk/topic/bossing-it.

Q) I was asked to give my boss some feedback as part of our appraisal process, and I was perhaps a little too honest. I said that he can be a bit arrogant and talk over me when I’m raising what I think are valid issues, and that he seems to discourage thinking outside the box.

Although the process is supposed to be anonymous, ever since his appraisal he’s been off with me and has kept cancelling our one-to-ones as he’s “too busy”. Now I don’t know what to do. Please help.

Charlotte, via email

A) Charlotte, if you’re correct and this is his response to your constructive criticism, then it just goes to show you were right in the feedback you gave!

I’d suggest you first speak to HR, saying you’re concerned that he knows about your feedback and asking what they intend to do about breaking their confidentiality to you if this is what happened.

Once you are convinced that his attitude is down to the feedback, and that he isn’t just extremely busy with deadlines that can’t be moved, then you need to talk to him in a polite and professional way, preferably face to face (even if it’s over Zoom).

Explain why you gave that feedback, but also point out all the positives you gave and tell him you’d hoped it would improve your working relationship.

You will probably find that he is sorry and embarrassed, and he may be just as keen to clear the air as you are. Best of luck! 

  • Got a careers question you want Karren to answer? Email bossingit@fabulousmag.co.uk
  • Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice
  • Compiled by: Claire Frost

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