Sarah Steinhöfel, Content Manager at The Smart Bear

Specialising in web design and content support for small businesses 

If someone had said to me a few years ago that one day I’d be running my own business, I think I would have laughed in their face!

I was in a very different headspace back then – having worked for a big multinational software house for 18-and-a-half years. I’d gone as high as I could go as a tech analyst and eventually suffered burnout. The world of IT isn’t as glamorous as people think… with big companies come big demands.

Knowing I wanted to leave my job but having no actual plan, I was stuck in limbo for a while until I met Suzi Brown – a website developer and trainer who owns The Smart Bear. A sole trader looking for another pair of hands, she offered to train me up and I bit her arm off! Today we both trade under The Smart Bear brand name, with my duties primarily split between freelance work, content creation and mentoring. Suzi and I hope to become business partners eventually, but we are enjoying the existing set-up – pouring our energies into providing a seamless service to clients.

Since going self-employed for the first time aged 44, I have to admit that it’s been a long process unravelling the ‘corporate conditioning’ I’d been exposed to in my career role; Pavlov’s dog came to mind on many an occasion! What I have a handle on now though is that I am in control of my own destiny, which wasn’t possible before. I can choose who I work with, what my day is going to like… it’s much less regimented. Now I’m working for myself, I can’t stop evangelising about it! It really is the best thing I’ve ever done and I’d urge anyone who’s thinking about it to just go for it!

Through word of mouth, customer referrals and sheer hard work, things are going from strength to strength professionally and I’ve experienced a massive turnaround personally. I’m dedicated to keeping up to date with the latest tech (staying current is key in this industry); broadening my knowledge base (I’ve completed a Digital Marketing diploma and a teaching qualification in eight months); and continuing to absolutely love what I do!

The Smart Bear