Tessa Mills – breaking new ground

It happens to us all.  Whether it’s because we have reached a birthday milestone or because of a seemingly innocuous incident or episode, we find ourselves evaluating our lives.  We probe the sincerity of our friendships; look long and hard at whether our careers are meeting our need for a sense of fulfilment, whether life up until that moment has met any of our expectations, etc.

After this bout of soul searching, some may discover that, actually, life hasn’t turned out the way they wanted at all; maybe some or all of it hasn’t met their expectations.  They know they want to make more of their lives, but they aren’t quite sure how. Stepping out of a relatively safe but deeply unsatisfying life into something completely new, especially those who are in their thirties and older, can be quite terrifying.

Tessa Mills found herself at such a crossroads.  After  26 years of marriage and two children, she arrived at a place where she was convinced that there was more to her life than what she had experienced.  After her two grown up children had returned from their gap holidays, Tessa decided to take her own leap into the exciting life of world travel.  As she set about contacting travel agencies to organise her year long hiatus, she found that no one was able to give her the type of information she required to put her itinerary together.  Career Break Guru was born. Launched at One Life Live event in March 2008, Career Break Guru is aimed at helping those who are at a place of transition in their lives and need help identifying exactly what they want to do.

“My motivation to setting up my business was the difficulties I encountered when I was organising my round the world gap year,” explains Tessa. “I couldn’t find anyone who could help me define exactly what it is I wanted to accomplish on this break.  I had no idea what to do where to go, etc.  The needs of an older person are different to that of an 18 year old and I couldn’t find someone who understood this enough to create something just for me.”

Those using the services of Career Break Guru will first of all be encouraged to attend a half day workshop, during which they will get an understanding of the possibilities that are available for them.  If the workshop inspires attendees enough for them to take the plunge and embark on long-term travel, they go through a more thorough exercise with Tessa or other members of her team to identify exactly what would be best for them.  But they are not travel agents. The aim of the additional one to one sessions is identify the places they want to go, and ensure they have the tools to take the next steps in planning their journey.

Like others, Tessa has found the road of an entrepreneur is not without its difficulties.  “I tend to look at mistakes as learning curves.  What keeps me motivated is whatever goal I’ve set. My goals always have a time limit to them so I’m always working towards them, which in turn will see me making a success of my business!”

One of the biggest challenges that Tessa has faced is creating a new market.  She is offering coaching in an area where people have not traditionally sought it and this brings a whole load of challenges.  The key to her success is being adaptable and taking advantage of opportunities as they come her way.

Here are Tessa’s top five tips for women who are thinking of getting started in business

Be authentic about your strengths and weaknesses; know and own both of these because without this knowledge you cannot go anywhere.

Be prepared to adapt; don’t have such a fixed route.  Explore the options that come along the way.

Don’t have an open ended plan.  Have definite goals that you work towards, however big or small.

Have a sense of order or structure in your personal life – if your personal life is in turmoil you aren’t going to create from a good place.

Create a working environment that works for you.  Whether that environment is from home or outside, make sure it is the best for you.

You can find out more about Tessa and Career Break Guru on her website

Belinda Nnoka

Belinda is a staff writer for Women Unlimited.

Be the change that you want to see. Step into your leadership.