When I started my business almost 15 years ago as a publicist and freelance journalist, I had no idea where it would lead. It began as a leap of faith, having got fed up of working for an East Yorkshire newspaper, where I worked long hours under pressure, and felt very under-valued.
My father, a self-made man, said something that resonated loudly. “If you worked those long hours for yourself you’d be much better off both financially and personally.”
He was to be proved right.
In the end after a particularly long day and a full-on heated discussion with a senior member of staff, I resigned and have never looked back.
My husband was shocked. Having given up a pretty decent salary and with four children still at home, the pressure was on to find work and earn money. I was nervous, but with a determination and belief in my capabilities.
After 15 years working on regional publications I was acquainted with many journalists who worked on national newspapers and magazines. I started submitting freelance ideas and articles and they were well received. From then on I was regularly commissioned to cover news jobs.
Locally, I had made business contacts who needed marketing and PR services. I worked for local harbour commissioners, a council regeneration partnership and a chain of specialist care homes.
Within a few months I was earning more than I’d ever earned before. I loved it! I had a spring in my step every day and found that one job led to another with recommendations coming thick and fast. I explored every avenue, was building my business and didn’t want to miss a thing. One day I’d interview an entrepreneurs onboard a private jet and the next I would be in Pinewood Studios for a meeting to discuss future TV projects.
My business steadily grew. Each day brought excitement and something different. I worked with popstars The Cheeky Girls for a time. They were lovely and I found the celebrity world fascinating.
Throughout this intense time my marriage failed and sadly, we went our separate ways. Having sold the family home I bought another house and after a couple of years I re-mortgaged that and bought an apartment which I rented out. I was determined to build a property portfolio and equally determined to own the properties outright. I worked my socks off to overpay the mortgages.
15 years Judy Broadbent quit her job – and she's never looked back
I bought a new powder blue BMW coupe with a private registration. The feeling I had driving that car was amazing – I'd achieved something I'd only ever dreamt of.
Then fate intervened and I became ill with cancer, which caused lifetime bilateral lymphedema, or swollen legs. I required surgery but throughout the illness carried on working from home. The business couldn't slip as I had a portfolio of clients who needed looking after.
Eventually I got through this difficult period and recovered to an extent. But the condition had taken its toll and I was forced to slow-down. I adapted the business as I found myself working more and more from home with less travelling. The internet made it easier with both Skype and Facetime playing an important role.
I sold the BMW as it was sitting on the driveway most of the time. It was a luxury I didn’t need, and instead I bought a small car from the auctions, with a slipping clutch.
My business continued to grow and evolve. When I was asked to ghost write a book, I jumped at the chance and this will now be a Hollywood movie. It is the story of John Hesp, a retired businessman and grandfather. In 2017, he took the world of poker by storm and won $2.4m at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. He is instantly recognisable wearing his trademark colourful jacket and white Panama hat.
This is an exciting project to be involved with and when I find myself talking to a Hollywood Producer and his screenwriter, I want to pinch myself. I’m also having discussions with Netflix regarding an up and coming documentary – but I can't reveal details at the moment.
From scraping a living 15 years ago to now owning property and running a successful business, my life has taken a dramatic turn. I never thought when I was taking my NCTJ examination and learning shorthand many moons ago at Lancaster University, that I’d be rubbing shoulders with Hollywood and Netflix top brass.
Self-belief in your capabilities is important. It is difficult being self-employed, as the hours can be long and you must be self-driven. There are peaks and troughs – but you keep going. If there some advice I can offer, it is: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today and don’t go to bed with work pending. Get it done and clear the decks!
Working for yourself is so rewarding. Nobody bosses you around, you choose where and who you work with and the results often speak for themselves. Career-wise, it’s the best move I ever made.
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