Friday, 10 February 2012

Reflections on a Very Big Week

It's been a very big week.  I worked every day!  For most of my life I have been in full time employment and was required to turn up five days a week.  Sometimes this involved travel and very long hours.  I don't do that any more.  So here I am, absolutely exhausted after turning up for 5 consecutive days - something I haven't done in over a year.  I feel like taking a moment to reflect on what's different about working 5 days in a row as a freelancer and 5 days in a row as staff.

1. As a freelancer my responsibility ends with the delivery of whatever I was hired to do - in this case facilitate leadership development programs.  The upside is being able to focus on the task at hand.  The downside is not being able to know the next chapter in the story.  The upside is not becoming entangled in organisational politics.  The downside is not being involved in organisational politics. (Really.)

2. Hired-in consultants have freedom to be more frank with a business - that's what we're paid for.  The thing is, I've always been very frank and direct in my conversations with people and that didn't always work so well.  Some organisations think they want their staff to speak truthfully but react by threatening or severing the employment relationship.  Having this freedom is more in tune with my natural style.

3. As a freelancer I am paid much more than I was paid to do the same work as an employee.  Yay!

4. The flip side is I have no job security.  Future work is dependant on whether clients like the work I'm doing now.  I want them to ask me to work with them again.  I want them to recommend me to their colleagues. I have to take every opportunity to network.  Luckily, this is really working for me.  This is a very effective reward and recognition scheme - if I'm not doing good work and cultivating relationships, I don't eat.  Today two future jobs came through on the phone - one which is a referral from within my network to someone whom I don't know (Yay!) and the other is the third piece of work for a person I met when I was working on the same project for a day.  We networked and about 6 months later she hired me.

5. As a freelancer I work with a variety of people regularly.  Sometimes it works well and sometimes it is hard and not enjoyable.  I love this! It's so wonderful to have new people to play with.  It's also great to work in a context which requires a conscious approach and presence to succeed.  Each time I work with someone new, I love that I inevitably learn so much from them. I worked with terrific people this week.

6. As a freelancer, I am running a business of my own.  Running a business requires planning and straight talk about money.  Often money ties into the nature of the business relationship.  The art is in recognising what's important at any given time.  This week, the conversation was about money.  I'll talk about the relationship later. (Thanks to my brother who helped me work that through.)

Working permanently or working freelance both have their benefits and their struggles.  We're all different and what works for one person might not suit another person.  I can honestly say, I never envisaged that I would be working freelance and running my own business. It's been a fabulous surprise!

Have you made the move from permanent employment to freelance?  Or maybe you've moved the other way?  What do you like best?  What do you miss?


  1. Wow, sounds like a big week!

    Unlike you, my freelancing work involves less face-to-face time with people, because it's mostly feature-writing. I really miss that. I use Twitter as my replacement for "water-cooler conversation" and I have contact with other freelancers by email and Facebook for discussing issues. But I have to build in time to my day to get out of the house and see people!

  2. I have weeks like that too Rose - where there is no contact. You're right about having to build time in to see people outside the house. Great strategies!