This is the tenth in a series of interviews with freelancers, telling us their stories on how they went freelance. The aim is to help others who are thinking of becoming freelance learn more about what it takes, as well as get advice and inspiration so they can get the confidence and understanding to find out if freelancing is right for them.
If you want to take part in the series, simply head here to tell us your freelance story
Name: Soraya Haffar
Freelance area: HR
Freelancing since: August 2014
What made you decide to become a freelance HR consultant?
It was an epiphany moment. I had always been an employee of a company but over the past 5 years took on fixed term roles for a range of different companies from small manufacturing to international media.
The crunch point came when I was offered a permanent (very well paid) job at a global finance organisation and had the lightbulb moment; what if I went it alone? I could potentially work with a range of different companies and cultures and even create my own way of working.
From that moment on I could not stop thinking about my idea, it took over most daily thoughts and I decided that if I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I owed it to myself to give it a shot- if anything to take back control of my sanity!!
What steps did you put in place before you went freelance?
With hindsight, not enough. Once I decided to create my business, which was whilst I was still in employment, I began looking into how to set up a limited company. I was put in touch with Companies House and used useful resources such as the GOV.UK website.
I also visited the local library and read up on business start ups, networking and finance. I also read a lot about entrepreneurs to get the confidence that I could do it too.
I started networking whilst I was still in full time employment as well. I simply googled business networking in my area and found out about some of the most popular events, to see if I could start talking to other companies about the business I was setting up, ahead of time.
How did it feel before you went freelance?
The day before I left full time employment, it felt exhilarating. I practically bounced in to the office on my last day, knowing that from that day on, most things that happened in my career were of my doing and influence.
No other feeling compared to imagining being your own boss.
It was also terrifying – no other feeling is as worrying as being your own boss!
How does it feel now you are a freelance HR consultant?
I would say on the whole I feel very positive. I think in every freelancers career there are highs and lows, particularly when you start out.
You face concerns about where you will get work from, whether your rates are competitive etc but once you start to build up your client base and understand how people like to work, it becomes more interesting and rewarding.
For me, it’s a passion that I can’t flick the ‘off switch’ to. I’m also a perfectionist so can’t rest until I feel like something is as good as it can be, and love that I get the final say in what “perfect” is!
What are the positives of freelance life?
Freedom – I can start my day at 6am if I can’t sleep and be done by 2pm to enjoy the rest of the day.
Job satisfaction- you get a real buzz from winning a new client or setting up your own website. Everything you do that you have never done before gives you a kick.
Although at times it can be hard, once you’ve learnt a new skill you feel an immense proudness, it’s a great feeling.
What are the negatives of freelance life?
It can get lonely. I’m quite a sociable person and at times I have felt very isolated.
All of a sudden the people that you used to connect with, you don’t seem to make that connection anymore because as an employee, it is difficult to understand how much there is to think about when setting up your own business.
You no longer just do your job, you’re the Finance Director, you’re in charge of marketing, HR, you have to be a jack of all trades and enjoy that.
Any advice for others looking to go freelance?
Be kind to yourself and make sure you celebrate the small things. If you’ve just set up your first company Twitter account or written your first article – congratulate yourself because without a team of people around you, you need to make sure you are your own biggest supporter.
Finally, toughen up- people may try to put you off, to take business from you or perhaps put your ideas down but so long as you remain professional, positive and open to feedback, it shouldn’t impact you or your business.
Thanks for taking part, Soraya, and for sharing your tips and advice. Make sure to check out her website at lovehr.org.uk and follow her on Twitter at @lovehrltd.
If you want to take part in the series, simply head here to tell us your freelance story.
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