You’ve ditched the corporate life, or maybe corporate life ditched you. Either way it’s behind you and you’ve gone freelance. It’s both scary and exciting in equal measure.
Scary because that regular paycheque is a thing of the past.
Exciting because you are now in control of your destiny. You can work when and how you want. You can choose who you work with and what you do.
Frustrating systems and office politics are a thing of the past. You no longer need to strategize about how to get something achieved in the company through negotiations with different teams. You can just make it happen, your way.
Freelancing brings freedom which can feel like a breath of fresh air. As you uncouple yourself from the corporate world, you can drop the bureaucracy and focus on the work you want to do that adds value and you enjoy.
As you build up a client base and a sustainable freelance career it’s easy to think that you’ve left the corporate world behind. That world may have given you the practical and/or technical experience to be able to do the freelance work you are now doing but that’s all.
That’s where you are missing a trick.
Your experience in the corporate world, how it works, how it thinks and how it functions are an important ingredient in your freelancing secret sauce and in many instances can give you a competitive edge over freelancers offering similar services but lacking in corporate experience.
This was brought into sharp focus for me recently during two recent mentoring sessions.
The first person, a freelancer had spent a big part of her career at a senior level in large publishing companies and, although she had pivoted her offering when she went freelance, she was now working hard to sell her services back into the corporate world but was struggling to get started. I challenged her to explain why the corporates would need her services, who would need them, when they would want them, and as she answered these questions, she started to draw on her previous experience in corporate life.
At first, she found it uncomfortable and confused by its relevance. It was a part of her life and her work she had put away when she went freelance. As our conversation progressed the light bulbs went on and she began to see how she could use her knowledge and experience of the corporate world to unlock opportunities in a way that others couldn’t.
The second, a small creative business, founded by a husband-and-wife team, who both left the corporate world to develop their creative practice and run a creative studio in the Cotswolds. Again, I probed them about any knowledge and experience their previous careers have for them now. And they began to realise that they have first-hand knowledge of the world their customers inhabit. This enables them to deliver the level and type of experience expected. It goes further than that, they also have a strong network from their previous life, who have the potential to be customers, and yet this network has no idea what they are doing now.