In April this year, it will be my official first birthday after saying goodbye to the corporate world and dedicating 100% of my time to Fresh Brew Marketing.
A daunting thought. And I couldn’t be happier.
I currently find myself sitting in a pub, at 09:59 on a drizzly Tuesday morning in the heart of London town – where outside suits and heels frantically make their way from one tube stop to the next, where taxis and busses, delivery trucks and bicycles create the soundtrack of this grey day. But as I sit in this somewhat dreary environment, my heart is filled with joy, gratitude and humility. I’m doing ok. In fact, I’m doing wonderfully. Yes – I still don’t have the security of a monthly pay check – but then again, in today’s economical environment – who actually does? Yes – working independently does sometimes mean that there may be days when your biggest confident becomes your cocker spaniel. But, honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, what have I learnt?
FEAR: Without the risk of uttering some cliche that ideally needs to be one some spiritual photograph of a flowing river, I’ve learnt that life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. (Thanks Ferris). I’ve also learnt that fear has been the single biggest chain preventing me to follow my goal. Saying goodbye to a life routine that I’ve known for so many years, wasn’t a decision I took lightly. But when my English gentleman gave me a virtual flare gun and told me to use it when I needed to, I knew that the power to decide was absolutely in my hands – along with his support, the knowledge that I had something to offer, and a desire to do something completely new.
LONELINESS: I’ve learnt that an independent life, albeit wonderfully free, can be quite a lonely one. No longer do you have the daily faces that greet you from behind computer monitors, and the frustration of being pulled into endless meetings and discussions. Working independently means that now, you have to put in the effort to not become stagnant – but to actively seek out opportunities to build your network, spend time with like-minded people, and build on your client relationships, to a point where the independent, quiet hours become powerful result-producing times.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: I’ve learnt that networks matter. Throughout my career, regardless of how frustratedly desperate I’ve been in full-time employment, I’ve always tried to maintain open and respectful communication with my employers. After all – while I was employed, it was because I chose to stay. If I was truly frustrated and angered by wrong decision, or didn’t agree with process, I would voice my opinion and try to influence change – but after all was said and done, it was my choice to stay. So – put up with it, or get out. And I stayed. I have always tried to leave employment on a constructive note – which proves itself in the fact that for every single employer that I’ve had the privilege to work for, I still hold dear the relationships I built up with my peers. And as an independent worker – building your network, looking for your next project, finding your next business lead, is supported heavily by the network you have built up. And I am so incredibly thankful to those clients who have seen my potential and have allowed me to work alongside them to deliver results for them, as I started this new journey.
KEEPING ACTIVE: Working independently also often means long periods of static, head-down, grafting. In the early days, I’d move directly from my bed, to the office, with a cup of coffee, and it was when the postman delivered the post at 11:30 that I’d realise, I hadn’t looked up once, I was still in my pyjamas and I had simply gone into auto-pilot mode. That changed quickly. I’ve learnt that working independently is all about setting your own routine now. So – most mornings now, wake up is at 6:30 / 7:00, head off to the gym for a swim and then the day can start with a good breakfast. The beauty of owning a dog is that throughout your day, you have the pleasure of nipping out for a quick, brisk walk – keeping her happy, and keeping your creative juices flowing.
GIVING MORE: What I’ve probably learnt most out of all of this is that through the beauty of a clearer mind, a more active routine, a proactive approach to learning and hearing more about the challenges that my clients face, I’ve developed an even bigger capacity to give more. So – where I have fixed myself, my clients benefit because they get someone who is more focussed, happy in the service that they offer, clearer-thought process and an excitement about every project that comes along. And that’s what it is all about, surely!
I’m not telling you to quit your job. In fact – I’m doing anything but. In no ways would I have been ready to take the plunge as I did last year, years prior. What I’m saying is that if you are ready to become independent – and you’re weighing up the pros and cons of a much more flexible working environment – then, I hope that my ramblings have some relevance to you.
And in the spirit of a new way of working, if my ramblings hold any relevance to you – why not get in touch. Let’s meet for coffee or have a call. After all – you never know when the opportunity may come for us to work together.