This is a question I’m being asked a lot right now by people interested in becoming a Passionate PA, but also by skilled individuals who have toyed with the idea of “going freelance” for many years and are just looking for some advice. I’ve also had a few calls recently with people who have already embarked on their freelance journey but are finding it tough.
I have a few friends who are facing redundancy at this time too, and having shared my personal journey to some extent, they are wondering whether the freelance lifestyle is for them. They’ve seen me enjoying all the advantages of being my own boss, of working with great clients and of building the business of my dreams – something I never thought possible ten years ago!
So, when is the perfect time?
When I embarked on my freelance journey, I was 26, newly married with a wealth of skills and bucketloads of hope.
However, the UK was in recession, I had a massive mortgage and very fragile self-confidence due to countless bosses who had no idea what great people management really was. I was also dealing with the grief of losing the woman who set up The Passionate PA; my anchor, mentor and friend. (Read that story here).
My timing was NOT perfect.
But when would it have been? When my husband and I had six months’ money in the bank? When the economy had recovered? When I’d got over my grief? When I’d found my professional confidence?
Ha… the irony here is that my journey to becoming a successful freelancer ‘fixed’ all of this (except of course the economy – I cannot take credit for that!). Becoming a Passionate PA gave me choices like never before, developed my self-confidence, helped me recover from losing Sarah and paid really well. The recession was actually a good thing too because as my client-base recovered from the recession, they preferred to outsource rather than employ.
So, Top Tip Number 1 is to understand there is no such thing as perfect timing – it’s more about YOU and the commitment you have to yourself. When that is ‘perfect’, then the timing is right.
The rest of my Top Tips for freelance success go a little something like this:
🌟 Top Tip Number 2: Identify your personal goals and be crystal clear with what success REALLY looks like to you.
🌟 Top Tip Number 3: Be prepared to work hard – really hard. You may have great skills, but it takes real dedication to find the people who want to buy those skills. I urge all new freelancers to plan for the long haul and understand it takes time, effort and energy to build a successful business.
🌟 Top Tip Number 4: Define what your ideal client looks like and try to connect with them, and only them. Now, I know this is a bit radical, but no one else actually matters. You can have 500 followers on your business Facebook page, but it means absolutely nothing if they are just your family and friends… sure they might refer business to you, but your efforts are far better spent on targeted marketing approaches.
🌟 Top Tip Number 5: Know your value proposition (that’s what you offer, why and who to), and talk about it with total confidence! Know your personal USP too.
🌟 Top Tip Number 6: Do not work for free, ever. Don’t barter, pimp yourself out or sell your soul to the devil no matter how hard it gets. The minute you start doing this, you undervalue yourself, your skill set and everyone else trying to make a decent living from freelancing. If there’s a problem getting clients, I’d wager it’s not price holding them back…
🌟 Top Tip Number 7: Distinguish yourself from your competition; keep an eye on them but don’t emulate them. While imitation can be flattering, in business, it is just plain rude to copy.
🌟 Top Tip Number 8: Get to grips with the legals, finances and marketing on day one, particularly cashflow forecasting, insurances and GDPR.
🌟 Top Tip Number 9: Find a mentor that has been there and done it successfully for years (and years, and years, and years!). Momentary success is easy, sustaining a profitable, fulfilling business in the long-term is the real artform. Plus, try not to take business advice from your mum, partner, best friend etc unless they really are an accomplished business owner themselves.
🌟 Top Tip Number 10: Don’t have a plan B. Go all in like your life depends on it. If you have a plan B, you’ll waste valuable time thinking and planning for that and inevitably, your plan B will become Your Plan.
You know what, I could keep writing… There’s so much to say about how to manage your own mental health and keep a positive mindset as a freelancer. There are whole blogs I could write about how a successful freelancer must transition from an employee mindset to a business owner’s one.
Anybody who knows me well will know that one of my favourite words in the whole world is CONSISTENCY. I genuinely believe that my ability to remain consistent with clients, my business and the external world has been pivotal to my success.
There are so many more lessons I could share. I’m truly passionate about helping skilled individuals create rewarding and sustainable businesses as freelance PAs. That’s my role at The Passionate PA; franchisor, mentor, marketeer, rainmaker, a shoulder to cry on… a problem shared and all that! With my franchisees, I go through it all with them, right by their side and make sure they don’t fall over at any of the hurdles. If you are thinking about becoming a freelance PA and would love the support on offer here, book a call today.
If what you’ve read here has spurred you on to go it alone as a freelancer with your unique skills, then awesome! I wish you all the luck in the world for the next chapter of your career. Keep positive and remain consistent.
Kate Chastey is ‘chief’ Passionate PA; a truly experienced and successful freelancer. Having run The Passionate PA since 2010 and been through all the highs and lows, it’s fair to say there’s not much she doesn’t know about building a small business in the UK. She is also franchisor of The Passionate PA brand. More information about Kate can be found here, or joining our franchise, here.
Further blogs from The Passionate PA: