October 1, 2017
This month has been quite a challenge. Looking back, I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown professionally. So no wonder there have been more challenging situations than usual – I always remind myself that it’s a sign of growth. And what kind of career are we’re talking about without the growth, right darlings? Here is an open story of a freelancer who has finally started treating her work as an agency.
OVERCOMING THE SELF-DOUBT
To be honest with you, I should have done many things I did this month so much sooner. But all those doubts, fear, insecurity and other unpleasant feelings were popping out every time I would start to consider opening a company. So what did finally encourage me? Circumstances.
First of all, working as a freelancer is a luxury taxes-wise. I should have taken care of it and saved thousands two years ago. Instead, for two years I was dreading this step. Eventually, being a freelancer and hiring other freelancers became an absolute nonsense, so I simply was forced to take this step. But on top of that, a few months ago I took a vacation to Germany and that was the first time I trusted all my work to someone else. Of course, it went just fine and it became another great argument for me to stop making excuses. And guess what, it wasn’t as scary or as difficult as I had imagined. Yes, you will have some patience testing, moments of ranting about the system that is not created for normal human beings, and probably a few secret wishes to throw something at someone, but… Eventually, it’s doable, guys, I can promise you that!
? PLANNING IN A BIG WAY Have you noticed how setting a specific goal brings just the right people and things to your life? I know that sometimes huge goals might seem overwhelming. But when was the last time that something worth reaching was easy and simple? Probably never. Start with setting the goal itself and you’ll see, magic will start happening and little by little you’ll figure it out. Darlings, we always do ? ❤ | CAREER MONTH: 02 |
SCARY CAREER DECISIONS ? ⛵ The other day I went sailing for the first time. In the beginning, all I could think of was the sea sickness, scary waves and how unstable the whole experience felt. Then little by little I moved closer to the tip of the boat. The further I went the better I felt. Suddenly there was no need to hold on to something, the waves began to calm me, the wind and the rhythm of the boat felt so pleasant. That’s just how important career decisions feel like: at first, it’s a huge ocean of fear, but the further you go, the easier and smoother it becomes. I wasn’t sure if reorganizing my individual work to a team and a company was the right decision or even the right time to do it. But the more bumpy obstacles I solve and the further I go along this way, the more pleasant it feels. Because nothing worth reaching is easy. So I say, go for it! | CAREER MONTH: 05 |
OVERCOMING THE “I TOLD YOU SO”
Oh, I wish I could tell you how easy breezy everything was from the moment I got that confirmation from the revenue agency. Not really. Then reality sets in. Even though nothing in the process of my work changed, I had to deal with a pile of another bureaucracy – re-signing the contracts with every single client, every single freelancer I collaborate with, re-creating all the invoices, accounting documents, figuring out how to make outdated taxes rules work for the nowadays business, etc. Many more things to take care of, as you can see.
So having all this paperwork as well as trying to do the usual work for the current projects and solving their issues, working on the strategies for the two new clients, managing the team and their tasks… And here is when that sneaky voice in my head comes: “Didn’t I tell you? Didn’t I?!”. But it would be silly to go back after putting so much effort into it, so that voice in my head had no other choice but to shut it.
CAREER MONTH: no. 11 | Every day seems a battle with myself these days ? ? ? Battle with the regret that comes when in 4 days I end up not doing my makeup, because all I do is simply work at the same table, so what’s the point? I battle the bitterness of not being both a great worker and a great girlfriend at the same time. I battle the jealousy of seeing how easily things happen and come to others, even though deeper inside I know that it’s just positive things I see and there is so much more behind it. I battle the doubt that comes after I see 0 results while spending those long hours. But then on days like today I get to prepare for the speech that I will give on Friday to others like me and then I’m so grateful to realize that I’ve actually achieved more and been better girlfriend than ever, I’ve grown to see the hard work behind success stories and most importantly I’m one more step further each day.
Enough about the negative side of it. Would you like to know when I actually felt proud of all that work I had put into it for the first time? Like I finally overcame that silly “I told you so”? I was at the event with many students, as a speaker. I approached one of the USA universities stands to chat and here was when I had the first moment I was really proud of myself going through all that trouble. The ladies at the stand started asking me:
– Which grade are you in?
– Um, I’m no longer at school, actually (kind of shocked to still get such a question)
– Oh, so which university then?
– Um… I have finished that one as well, the bachelor of communications (starting to get interesting)
– Too bad, we won’t be able to offer you any programmes, because you must have at least 5 years of professional experience.
– Well, I do have more than that in marketing communications (now, getting a bit offended by such a comment)
– Oh really? For which company do you work?
– I own the company (still quite shy to say that out loud, but then at the same time feeling like slamming it in their faces).
– (no comments needed anymore, just handing me over all the flyers they had)
? ? GENTLE PERSONALITY IN BUSINESS? Does your gentle personality ever get in a way at work? Well, one of two things will happen: you will learn to switch it off yourself or life will teach you to do it. When I feel that someone is trying to take advantage of how kind-hearted I appear to them, all the pleasantries and empathy is immediately put away. At moments like that, it’s important to set clear boundaries, especially, for us, #freelancers. We have to learn to be direct and strongly opinionated. I’ve seen that surprise in others’ faces, but then I’ve also seen a respect. I think it’s better to lose the client, if needed, rather than compromise on your values. Earning money is so much easier than earning the respect. | CAREER MONTH: 01 |
I think too often we hear only the good side of things. This is why I want to make it really clear that even though someone might think it’s a super power of some sorts to manage the company or even to do a freelancing job, there are no “out of the blue success stories”. Yes, I have to admit that in many ways I feel so lucky. Lucky for all these clients I have, lucky for the team members who put their trust in me, lucky for the flexibility that this company gives me, lucky for so much! But there is no such a thing as luck if you don’t work for it in the first place. And there is no other way, it will take some struggle, it always does. But you’ll be fine, just as I am.
THE SECRET TO SUCCESS ? ? I know, that sounds like a catchy title, but to be honest, the answer is very short, simple, and straight to the point – LOTS OF HARD WORK. As someone who started from the first non-paid internship in one of the country’s biggest IT companies and in 8 years grew to someone already working as a communications agency myself with the team and international clients… I often get asked: “How do you find all these clients?”. I never look. I’m too busy doing everything in my power to help those I’m already working with. And this is how opportunities find me themselves. Might seem like a luck, but be sure, there are no success stories, only hard work that one day pays off. | CAREER MONTH: 04 |
OK, YOU’RE SET UP. NOW, HOW TO SURVIVE?
Expanding the client base meant expanding the team to implement the strategies, which then meant expanding the expenses and expanding the amount of accounting needed, as well as expanding the time spent making sure I didn’t go out of business myself. So, once everything is set up, naturally, you start worrying about surviving and finding the system that works not only for me, but also for the team and the clients. Let’s not forget the personal life that needs to fit somehow into those 24 hours a day.
I started with small things, step by step, and unfortunately, but inevitably mistakes awaited on the way too. There is a lot to learn going forward. But here are a few tips I shared on my Instagram page, as well as a long, but worth a while Freelancing Q&A on Youtube:
LEAVING WORK BEHIND As freelancers, we have a million and one things on our minds. Especially when we try to have a day off, while also delivering last-minute requests. That’s why I always put even the smallest work related thoughts on paper or to the notes on my phone. So I could enjoy the day without carrying all those tasks in my head. Then once I’m available I go back to these notes and get to work. This is an important challenge every freelancer has to figure out – how to separate work time from the personal time. Because believe me, you will overheat if you try juggling both. | CAREER MONTH: 07 |
HOW TO PLAN THE WORK? ??? No matter how many clients I have, or how big of a team I work with, I always use the same system when it comes to task planning – prioritizing. I give every single task a specific priority: A – for urgent and important tasks that should be done now by me B – for not urgent, but important tasks that should be set for the later time (or delegated) C – For urgent, but not important tasks that should be delegated to others D – For not urgent and not important tasks that should not be done in the first place or done as the last thing I also organize my mailbox in the same way. Why this system? Because you always know what is the next right thing to do. | CAREER MONTH: 08 |
WORK ASIDE, HOW TO STAY SANE & HAPPY IN ALL THIS CHAOS?
Those who know me can tell that I’m all about keeping that personal and work balance. It doesn’t happen magically – you have to make time for your personal life. If you have to, even reserve it. That’s what I do. I choose at least one day every week when my work brain is off. I remember someone laughing the last time I told them that, because they thought it’s a joke. No, it’s not a 9 to 5 job I do, there is enough of work for 24 hours and 7 days a week. So how can you expect to have an evening or some days off if you don’t schedule it? Another thing that always helps me step back a bit is giving back, so if I get a chance, I take opportunities to share some of my experience or knowledge with others.
CAREER MONTH: 10 | You know you’re an advanced workaholic, when you don’t know anymore how to do nothing on weekends ? ?The week was super intense, because of the newly opened company, move to a new home and last-minute work project changes. But the most anxious I felt was this weekend, when I wasn’t working at all. Why? Because I cleaned up the house from the bottom to the top, called my parents and closest friends, who apparently all had plans and couldn’t meet me, even went to the city celebrations, went grocery shopping, cooked, watched movies… and still, I found myself confused and anxious of not knowing where to put myself and how in the world other people manage to do nothing. I guess, the time comes in life when you have to unlearn working and re-learn doing nothing. Do you ever feel this way?
CAREER MONTH: no.12 | Giving back to the bits ❤ I’ve always believed in giving back. And as much as I enjoy seeing satisfaction of the client, seeing hundreds of inspired eyes is absolutely unbeatable. And for some strange reason the whole experience makes me so emotional each time. Seeing all these people going through similar struggles makes me want to go and hug each one of them, to tell them it’s all going to be just fine. We all are connected more than we can imagine. So instead of being busy living “perfect Facebook lives” let’s at least once in a while be there for each other.
If you’re following my journey more closely, you have read a very personal post that revealed the tough time I was going through in my personal life. But if you read it even more carefully, you noticed only one line vaguely mentioning that I met someone. I avoid publicizing my relationship too much, because I know one thing for sure now – I have no interest in living the perfect Facebook life anymore. I want to spend that time right next to him watching another episode of Friends. But I simply couldn’t exclude this part from this blog post. Despite the work chaos, he was the main reason it also was so full of love, new experiences, and pure simple happiness. So make sure that you are such a person to someone else out there, because in such craziness it means a world to us. Love, I know you rarely read it till the end, but if you do, know that without you I would have been lost during these months and this creative chaos of mine.
CAREER MONTH: no.13 | No expectations You know what is better than spending 7 days by the rainy Baltic sea coast? An unexpected 7 days trip to sunny Paris. The greatest thing about this secret trip was traveling there while still having expectations of so-so Lithuanian weather and grey-ish mood. I only had time to pack and no time whatsoever to create all the new expectations you would usually have when visiting Paris. No matter the flight delay which turned the 4-hour trip to a 12-hour one, I was feeling so happy, still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of the new plan. After spending a week in Paris with 0 expectations, I think this must have been one of the happiest getaways ever because it has exceeded anything I have hoped for. So whatever you’re currently doing, work or time off, try to control your expectations, because this is truly what keeps us from feeling happy. No wild expectations mean happier moments in all areas of life. Now, back to work!
CAREER MONTH: no.14 | Change of habits ☕ ✨ Daily work routine makes time fly by. It makes me feel as if I don’t get a chance to actually stop for a second and to consciously soak it in. And this is why changing the environment once in a while and breaking the routine of usual habits does magic. It allows us to step back a bit and see the bigger picture, find new ideas, broaden our future vision and ambitions. New places make us braver dreamers. I love how each new city sparks such different feelings, ideas and thoughts in my head. Oh, but enough of that, once again, I can not even drink a cup of coffee without analyzing it all haha. I hope everyone is having an inspiring Thursday!
THE MAIN TAKEOUT
I cannot think of anything that was easy or super smooth in my life and was worth achieving. Ambitious goals require bigger steps and that means uncomfortable situations. But you know what? With each situation like this, we learn to turn it into comfortable faster. And sometimes we even manage to find time to fly to Paris or to watch that great episode of Friends.
BEFORE YOU GO…
I have spent 10 hours preparing this blog post. I would love to ask you to take only a minute or so. Please tell me if you liked it below or share it with one friend who could find it useful. Thank you for being together.