Image credit: Lola Ayangbayi
Lola Ayangbayi is an entrepreneur and a trained editor and proof-reader who specializes in the non-fiction and academic niches. Also, a writer and writing coach, she is a personal brand and runs the editorial services arm of her business under the name, Beaelay Stories.
Having seen sub-Saharan Africans in UK universities struggle with writing and the consequences associated with this, she understands the importance of writing coherently in the grand scheme of seeking opportunities and communicating ideas. This has fuelled her mission to help as many sub-Saharan Africans as possible become better writers.
Making a career switch is difficult. However, the thought of making a career switch from a field such as Engineering to Editing would leave many aghast and scamper for their original jobs. However, one woman who has dared to do differently is Lola Ayangbayi, who originally an Engineer (with a Masters and PhD degrees), quitted her job and set up an editing business.
On the #LadyBossQuickFive series this week, we sit with Lola; who tells us the rationale behind making the career switch, how she’s been able to manage work-life responsibilities as a working mum (and working from home), and tips for women who intend to switch careers.
1. Can you briefly describe yourself and what you do?
I am a positive person who likes to do things properly. I wear several hats — wife, mum, editor and proofreader, writer, coach, entrepreneur, and volunteer. For full-time work, I run an editorial business and personalised coaching programs on self-editing, writing better, and book-writing.
2. From Chemical Engineering to Engineering Management, and then Energy and Power. How and why were you able to make a career switch from Engineering to Editing?
Engineering and editing are a far cry from each other; however, I was able to make the transition because I had a strong desire to harness my natural strengths for a livelihood. My desire was stronger than my limiting thoughts, so I persisted. I had never quite felt at home in Engineering and so, when the engineering company I was working for started to struggle financially and it was apparent that we won’t have any contracts for a while due to circumstances beyond their control, I took it as a cue to launch out on my own as a freelance copyeditor.
Once my mind was made up, I sought out reputable and globally recognised editorial entrepreneurs, followed them on social media, bought some of their courses and books on publishing, editing, and proofreading and started to get myself trained. I understood that there were a lot of things that I needed to learn. Being good at writing and having eagle-eyes was not going to be enough to achieve the kind of excellence I want my craft and brand to demonstrate. However, since I had a strong background in written and spoken English, it didn’t feel like I was doing anything out of the ordinary. I had always written, edited or proofread work for friends and family, so it felt like familiar terrain.
Also, my interdisciplinary training makes it somewhat easy to deal with the rigours of certain writing and editing specialisms like technical writing and academic editing. As a child, I read anything that was within reach except newspapers (chuckles), and my parents encouraged me by buying me two novels every fortnight. I was interested in words and would pause my reading to check up meanings in a dictionary.
Image credit: Lola Ayangbayi
3. How do you manage work-life responsibilities as a working mum?
i. Planning and prioritising. Working from home can be a recipe for disaster if you do not prioritise your tasks. I have a ‘things to do today’ book where I list out everything that I have to do daily and number them in the order of priority. When I can, I try to write the list the previous night. For me, house chores can be a major distraction; so, I’ve had to build up the self-discipline to ignore non-pressing house chores until I can fit them in without messing with my work-productivity. I tell myself that if I was leaving the house to a physical workplace, those chores would have to stay undone anyway.
ii. Mental health and quality of life rank extremely high on my list of priorities. I have come to terms with the fact that some things have to give for me to live life in a way that suits my purpose. I don’t put myself under undue pressure and would happily decline an invitation to a social gathering if I felt I could put that time to better use like spending quality time with myself or my family.
Image credit: Lola Ayangbayi
4. One entrepreneurship myth that’s being busted since you established your editing business?
The notion that working for yourself guarantees freedom is what it is — a myth. One of the primary reasons I ventured into entrepreneurship was because I wanted to be actively present in the lives of my kids who are growing up so fast. I felt that self-employment meant that my time was mine to use as I pleased. I have since found out that this is not completely so. While I can schedule work around my domestic commitments, this certainly isn’t freedom. It’s flexibility, which often comes with a price.
In my case, my time is now heavily accounted for. Most nights, I catch up on work after the kids are in bed and work late into the night. Giving up my favourite TV programs no longer seems like such a big deal and socialising just for the sake of it is something I now rarely do. It is not all gloom and doom, though. I like this version of myself. I feel more focused and fulfilled; I am using my time more effectively, doing something that I am really good at and building a legacy that will outlive me.
5. Three tips for women in our community who are thinking of switching careers.
i. Be sure about your ‘why’. Life will test your decision. You cannot afford to be emotional about this. If or when things get difficult, being sure about your reason will fuel your determination to stick things out.
ii. Do your research. Thoroughly research your options. The price of ignorance can be hefty. When I started my entrepreneurial journey, I jumped in with both feet and sometimes felt my way through. This cost me a lot of time and effort and resulted in a lot of frustration. In retrospect, I realise that I should have paced myself and researched things more deeply. I was more focused on the fact that I was good at the craft, forgetting that there are other vital supporting skills (like sales and marketing) needed to make a business thrive.
iii. Be willing and prepared to pay for your personal development. Most people would agree that paying for relevant formal training is a definite way to gain much-needed clarity and credibility in any career. However, many people neglect financially investing in their ongoing personal development. While freebies can be useful, it is important to bear in mind that good stuff rarely comes cheap. While self-learning will always be an option when switching careers, paying to stand on the shoulders of giants will save you time, effort and I dare say, some frustration.
The Lady Boss Quick 5 Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.