Rikke Hansen is a transition advisor, entrepreneur, speaker and the founder of Rikke.me. She helps career changers and entrepreneurs nail down WHAT they really want to do next, so they can (re) design their ideal career or business and make an intelligent transition.
She draws on extensive experience of having advised over 600 private clients 1:1 and thousands more via her online programmes, public talks and videos, as well as a former background in HR for Morgan Stanley, Shell and Citigroup Asset Management. Her frank and client-tested advice has been featured in The Guardian, The Huffington Post and The Observer.
We spoke to Rikke about her own transition, a typical day, her client success stories, top tips for budding entrepreneurs and of course her favourite flowers.
How did you become a transition advisor for entrepreneurs and career changers?
I help smart career changers and entrepreneurs decide what they really want to do next. As a result we (re) design their ideal business or career, so they can start making an intelligent transition. Most of my current clients work with me via my online programmes, but I also work 1:1 with a small handful of private clients who want fast-tracking and a highly bespoke approach.
I launched my transition consultancy back in 2005 after having spent my 20s working in human resources for American investment banks in London. Being told what to do, having to “fit in” and “tone it down”, as well as being exposed to toxic company cultures and crazy long working hours meant that I was keen to do my own thing by the time I turned 30!
So I literally designed the services I wish I’d had access to myself as a career changer – An intelligent, but still warm and personal advisory consultancy that focuses on highly practical, structured and proven programmes and advice for avoiding overwhelm and staying focused, so your career change actually happens in the real world – No fluff!
Initially (back in 2005) to have something to make money from immediately, I drew heavily on my existing human resources experience in terms of career development, CV and interview skills – But I quickly specialized in big career changes and then also entrepreneurship (and dropped the CV/interview advice). The company initially grew purely from (happy) client referrals, which was amazing (and proof of concept).
Having now worked 1:1 with over 600 clients and advised thousands more via talks, online programmes and videos, I have developed extensive experience and my own, proven methodology for taking smart (often overthinking) individuals through the transition process in a structured, but still creative, manner.
What does your typical day consist of?
Early starts – I (honestly) love waking up at the crack of dawn (5am) when my brain is most focused and get cracking – The first 3 hours of my day are always my most productive.
I shoot videos, write advice/content/strategies for my programmes, clients, email list or social media, read and research (I live and breathe my subject), deliver business design sessions or have advisory calls with private clients all over the world, host webinars for new clients or Group Q&A Accountability Calls for my online programme clients. Get interviewed for podcasts or blogs, do social media and speak at events. I mainly work from my home office, but also love the buzz of a great cafe.
Consistency and habits are incredibly important for an entrepreneur (and for those in transition) – Especially those of us with a creative streak and a curious mind The secret lies in combining variety with making sure you actually get the right stuff done – Again and again. So I’m quite strict with my schedule and make sure I know exactly what I’m doing each day, so my brain doesn’t wander! This at the same time also means that I can decide to suddenly take a couple of hours off to go read a book in the sunshine in the middle of the week or go see a great exhibition when there are no crowds.
I live in Primrose Hill, so I love going for walks there to clear my buzzing mind – Long walks (and cups of tea) are marvelous cures for anything! About 3 times a week I also walk to Xtend Barre on Marylebone High Street – Buns of steel here I come J Being a total foodie also provides plenty of joy rides.
I travel quite a bit since I’ve (re) designed my business to allow me to work mostly remotely – I love travelling to vibrant entrepreneurial, foodie, creative and wellness hubs in the US (San Francisco, New York, Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles). That’s often when I do my best work and get my best ideas. I spent the first 19 years of my life in Denmark and I’ve also lived in Paris in my early twenties (before moving to London in 1996), so those are places close to my heart as well.
I’m not much of a night owl – I often pass out around 10pm with a good book – Rocknroll, I know…But when I do do night life – It’s memorable and epic and often involves tearing up dance floors…
What is your most memorable transition?
Lots! I often think of Neil who went from management consultancy to becoming a landscape architect at 42 (beating applicant half his age for his first gig!). He didn’t even know what landscape architecture was when I first suggested it would be a perfect fit for his personality, skills and the kind of working life he dreamt of.
Or Matt who was a fed up trader with no idea what he wanted to do instead. I helped him nail down an idea for sports events company, which he launched, on the side whilst still working full time for the first year. I still remember his joy when he told me he’d resigned and made the jump to full-time entrepreneurship. I love seeing photos of him on Instagram hanging out with his two young daughters – He never had time to see them before and he is such an amazing dad who always has charities involved in his events.
However, memorable transitions are not always those making the biggest changes – One of my clients, Gabby, realized that all that was needed was a change of company culture and boss. And that she actually loved her profession – Journalism. AND that she was better off keeping her vegan cupcake obsession as a hobby, instead of turning it into a business!
That’s such an important realisation too – Career change doesn’t always have to be a case of all or nothing. Often, getting clear about what you no longer want to tolerate in your working life and then getting rid of it, is a perfect place to start as well. My clients are smart, brave people.
What does success mean to you?
To actually want to get out of bed in the morning (the real litmus test if there ever was one!) because you are excited to get cracking with your life’s work, help others and be a role model for how good life and work can get (Imagine what the world would be like if we all had fulfilling work and businesses – That vision is part of what drives me).
AND to go to bed at night not worrying about where the money is going to come from and with no regrets knowing you did what you promised yourself and others you would do. That how you spent your time, energy and resources that day was indeed worth it.
I could honestly not imagine running a company that wasn’t focused on helping other people have better lives. Success (and entrepreneurship) is never just about you. Helping amazing people design incredible businesses or make the career change that’s right for their unique scenario for a living is what makes me feel successful.
Success is really only success when you’ve taken the time to define your OWN parameters of what it means to you (and redefine them when needed). If you are clear and at peace with what matters to you, then you never have to worry about others’ judgment – You can truly rest in yourself.
What are your top 3 tips for budding entrepreneurs?
1: Make sure it’s the right business for YOU.
Get clear about why you want to start your own business, what kind of business and what kind of daily work life you want as a result.
Often career changers get distracted by the “idea of” of a certain business, but forget to properly consider or investigate what the reality and everyday of it would be like. Passion is great, but make sure it translates into the right kind of business for you.
It’s important that your business enables you to enjoy the (majority of) activities you will be spending the most time on, that it allows you to use your natural strengths and that you like the social interactions you would be having as a result. Look for role models, advisors and real life business model examples to help you with this.
In the same vein, I also see many new entrepreneurs who replicate the very issues they were trying to get away from in their jobs/former career in their own business.
That’s why it’s so important to review your career and identify what skills, strengths and experiences you still want to continue using (so you have some career capital to offer immediately), what to leave behind (i.e. that you don’t want to touch with a barge pole/tolerate any longer or replicate in your next move) and what’s missing (i.e. what are those dream ingredients that you want your business and career to now be all about, so it excites you and helps you grow both personally and professionally).
Taking the time to do this review is a vital part of making the right decision (or revisit a decision you’ve already made). That’s why it’s always a key part of all of my programmes – No matter what stage my clients are at – It saves so much time and regret down the line.
2: Don’t let perfectionism kill your dreams (before they reach your market).
New entrepreneurs often waste too much valuable time tinkering with their product/service, website and social media BEFORE putting it out to the real world and before they actually start selling something to their customers (which is where the money is). Remember, cash flow is your friend!
Steve Blanks said “No business plan survives first contact with customers.” That’s why I’m big on new entrepreneurs being open to test driving things with their market as early as possible to get feedback. (As opposed to just thinking and fiddling on stuff behind the scenes all by themselves with no valid external input).
Of course you still want it to be of a high standard, but forget about perfection straight out of the gate – It’s impossible. Even Apple didn’t start off with the IPhone 7.
Launch and learn. I always say to my clients: Let your market help you refine and give them what THEY want too – Not just what YOU want. Insisting on perfection all by yourself is often the biggest killer of businesses before they even get a chance to reach or interact with the customer/market.
I often joke that entrepreneurship means getting over yourself, but it’s actually the truth. Still learning that lesson every day.
3: You have a right be here – Act accordingly.
Just because you are a career changer or new entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have less of a right to be paid, seen, heard or hired. Your entire life and career has prepared you for this big transition – NEVER feel like you have to apologize or hide. Be proud of what you have done before and of what you are doing now – The world needs you. Act accordingly.
Remember, you don’t have to be Steve Jobs or have a unique idea to somehow qualify to become an entrepreneur. You just have to solve a real-world problem that people actually want to pay you to have solved.
People often feel intimidated by entrepreneurship because they equate it with being a certain type of gifted breed (like Elon Musk or Richard Branson). Or they are put off starting their own business because they notice that someone else has already created the business / service/ product they want to create.
First of all, I promise that you don’t have to be anybody special or gifted. You just have to create and consistently execute on your plan, take massive action AND be willing to readjust when you come up against roadblocks. Commitment and consistency is often the “secret” of successful entrepreneurs, not their IQ or special gifts.
Secondly, it’s actually a good thing if someone is already doing something similar to what you want to create. If they are in business and making solid money, that’s marvellous – It’s shows that a viable (paying) market exists – They’ve done the ground/grunt work for you! Now it’s up to you to claim your market share – Your future clients are already waiting for you (get your arse in gear;).
I absolutely love your videos – Tell me about your online programme:
Your Career Change map is a 3-months online programme for smart, but stuck, career changers who want a proven structure for nailing down what they really want to do next and as a result (re) design their ideal career or first business – Step-by-step.
In the active version of the programme, we also have live, monthly Group Q&A Accountability Calls where anybody can ask for a “hot seat” and get personalised advice and feedback directly from me. Often students are shocked (in a good way!) with how much clarity they can get so fast when they have access to a proven system and professional advice. As opposed to going around in circles and trying to figure it all out by themselves.
The programme combines highly engaging and practical video training with questionnaires, exercises, handouts and real life action tasks – All the good stuff that has been tested and proven to work on hundreds of my private clients over the last 10 years. I also share carefully curated resources from my private rolodex that help clients explore careers and business ideas most don’t even know existed or were available to them – Everything is hosted on a confidential membership website you can access 24/7 from anywhere in the world.
The territory of career change and entrepreneurship can be confidence sucking and intimidating, so I’ve designed the programme to give clients a framework for navigating the process in a structured and focused manner, so they don’t get lost, overwhelmed or side-tracked because they know exactly to focus on AND in what order.
How do you unwind?
Reading has been my life-long companion – Curled up on the sofa with a cuppa Sencha and a good book is one of my favourite places to be in this world. I also love long walks, knitting, Xtend Barre, flowers, tea, yoga and looking at beautiful art. Deep, meaningful conversations with close friends, often at amazing restaurants around the world, also hit the spot. Or road trips and foodie fun with my husband Martin.
To give my buzzing brain a break I also meditate for at least 3 minutes every day. A friend of mine who used to be an elite Navy Seal in the US Army taught me an open-eyed meditation technique that really works if you have a highly active brain. Taking care of your mental health should be a key priority for any entrepreneur.
What are your favourite flowers?
You’ve probably noticed from my Instagram that I love flowers. I’m pretty agnostic when it comes to what type – I always find new flowers to fall in love with (though I’ve never loved roses). However, thistle flowers, ranunculus (especially “Hanoi”) and white astrantia are currently appearing the most frequently in my home.
Flowers are one of those purchases that deliver return on investment on so many levels, both visually and emotionally – And it’s such an easy hack for brining more joy and beauty into your everyday life.To find out more about Rikke’s fantastic online programmes and also her 1:1 programmes which are for a small number of private clients who want a more bespoke and fast-tracked approach.
Find Rikke on her website, instagram and facebook channels.
Email Rikke on Rikke@rikke.me