It's been over a year now and, as I hoped and feared, it's been the most fun/interesting/terrifying year I've had for a few decades. On the whole, it would have been cheaper to buy a sportscar and less time-consuming to have an affair with a 25 year old, but, as I can't drive and am happy with my fella, this 45 year old's mid-life crisis is a "follow your dream" business startup.
Please don't stop at dreaming. Do something about it. There really are loads of opportunities out there which will help you to change your life for the better. I've distilled some of these ideas into a handy list for you. This is your 'what I could do after maternity leave' list. Read it, pick out a few, and develop them into your own ideas.
All too quickly those childhood dreams and aspirations ebbed away as the responsibilities of your first mortgage, meeting your partner, marriage, children, a bigger house and simply staying afloat rapidly took centre stage. And before you knew it, there you were, slap bang in the middle of the rat race.
Djokovic slipped a number of times - he took a tumble, shook it off and got back up. Federer's cool demeanor is majestic - the man is almost completely unflappable... If you treat each win (and each loss) as a single step in a long journey then a stumble is temporary, a rejection an opportunity to learn and a criticism a chance to improve and tweak.
As any entrepreneur will tell you, founding your own company is far from an easy ride. Starting my business was the most rewarding thing I've ever done. I had a very clear vision of my product and what I wanted to achieve so I was lucky, but it still took an awful lot of determination and hard work.
A few months ago, I spent an extremely enjoyable afternoon at my old school giving a Careers talk about start-ups. Interestingly, the most pressing question that emerged from these 6th-formers was whether they were about to waste £27,000 and three years of their life on a University degree if what they were really passionate about was starting their own business.
This sounds like a flippant statement but it's not meant to be. Leaving my job to go self employed, and leaving my husband to go it alone as a single parent, were both incredibly important and emotional times in my life. Times filled with fear, doubt, uncertainty, and plenty of tears. And on recent reflection I realised that I'd gone through many of the same thoughts and feelings during each of them.
Many of the people who ask my initial question clearly believe there is, but - while it shouldn't come as a surprise that as a young entrepreneur I'll be fighting the corner of the youth view - for me, dismissing the ambitions and prospects of a budding entrepreneur purely because of their age or corporate experience is at best, shortsighted, and at worst, a view rooted in envy.
Thousands of garages are estimated to be lying empty in London alone. My report, From Lock Up to Start Up has identified 3,275 empty garages owned between just ten housing associations across the Capital. Converting some of these empty garages into basic standard, affordable studios, workshops and commercial space could provide the much needed affordable space that London's start-ups and micro businesses so desperately need.
What a long way we have come. I can remember when we administered the first £1million. It seemed like a huge milestone. It seems like only yesterday we had provided loans to 5,000 businesses and now we have passed the 10,000th milestone. We should be very proud of what we have achieved, but there is still a long way to go...
While working as a consultant in London a few years ago, I remember it as a "suit city" like New York. However, over the past two years, a lot of investment has been committed to change this - as evidenced by the Sirius Programme. This shows that the British government is taking this movement sirius-ly and will support its growth over the coming years.