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Neil Gibbins, Hire A Hubby Franchisee

From corporate banking to handyman: A change really is as good as a holiday

We work hard and we strive for promotion; we get promoted and receive financial reward. Do we then pause in content and admire the view before considering our direction? Not likely. Most career-minded individuals will tilt their heads back and start looking up at the next rung of the ladder. After all, we are conditioned to think this is healthy. And it is – but to what extent and to what expense? Very few people, if asked, would have a clear idea about when they will reach their ‘equilibrium’ in life or when the time will come to stop clambering and ‘take stock.’ According to Forbes, reaching the point at which you realise “your salary no longer makes up for the boredom and emptiness you feel” is one of the top 5 reasons to stop and take stock:

“Hang on here – I have this money, but I hate how I spend my life making it.” They begin to rethink their priorities and their abilities, and then they open their eyes to new ways they can make the money. 

‘I had to ask myself: is this all there is?’ 

With 27 years’ experience in the corporate banking sector, Neil Gibbins understands exactly what it means to reach this point. From managing over 100 people and multimillion dollar budgets, Neil gave up his career to realise his potential as (you [unlikely] guessed it) a handyman. By 2003, Neil had given up his suits for overalls after joining Hire-A-Hubby as a franchisee servicing the Gladesville and Ryde districts of Sydney.

Neil said “I had enjoyed the work but it eventually got to the point where I had to ask myself: is this all there is?

“I wanted greater satisfaction in my work and a job that gave me the flexibility. During my corporate banking career, I worked long hours. I was missing out on time with my two young boys.

“It wasn’t a tough decision at all.”

‘The challenge for me was to find something I loved doing and to get paid for it’

After feeling the push to rethink priorities and abilities, Neil gave careful consideration to his next move. A random one it may seem, but growing up in the country, Neil was no stranger to manual tasks.

Neil said, “the challenge for me was to find something I loved doing and to get paid for it. I have always had a passion for building things.”

It wasn’t a tough decision according to Neil, but that doesn’t mean it came without risks – the most obvious one being financial. According to Neil, there was a major financial risk transitioning from a senior corporate position with a stable income to the ‘unknown.’ “But I knew it was the right decision for me at the time,” said Neil.

Over 10 years later, Neil is well positioned to tell us how it went. A drastic sea change it may have been, but he notes above all, that his corporate career was by no means a waste.

“My corporate experience has definitely helped build my business,” said Neil.

‘I have control over everything I do with my business’

Neil’s franchise business has gone from strength to strength since 2003. Nothing like the 100 plus employees he used to manage, but his own entrepreneurial skills have seen the business expand, now having a number of staff members employed to meet the needs of customers. On an upward trajectory, some might ask: is there a risk of defeating the objectives Neil initially set out to achieve?

Neil said “I have control over everything I do with my business. I determine my own hours and holidays. It is hard work but it’s very rewarding and I benefit directly from my efforts.

“I left the corporate world to build a career that worked for my family. If I have to work long hours one day, I don’t see it as a burden because I choose to do it, I’m in control of my time,” Neil added.

For others who find themselves at odds with how they spend their lives making money – and who think self-employment could be the answer, Neil has some tried and tested advice: Identify a passion and aim to make it your profession; have a plan in place for where you want to go; and ensure you have some working capital as a buffer.

“If you have confidence in your business, you have every chance of hitting the ground running,” Neil said.

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Daniel Jacobs

Daniel Jacobs

Daniel Jacobs was editor of Dynamic Business.

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