A Funny Freelance Freedom
Susie runs Heale Solutions, a company that designs and delivers training and learning solutions for clients. Heale Solutions has been nominated for 2 awards in its first year, most recently as Start Up of the year 2020. Susie talks us through some of the key things she has learnt about freelancing, just before her first anniversary…
I became a freelancer when it became the best option. I had a six-month-old daughter and I was faced with an unappealing return to work offer and asked myself ‘what would you tell your daughter to do?’ My decision was made. In fact, many decisions have been made this way since, I find it makes me braver.
Next week is the first birthday of Heale Solutions. I’m a freelance trainer, designer and L&D specialist with a passion for parent talent and sharing the load. I work four days a week from my spare room and various training facilities with lots of brilliant clients.
This week I have flexed like an elastic band in a house full of hand foot and mouth. Still I remain completely convinced, staring at my screen at 10pm to make up for the marathon shush sessions throughout the day, that this has been the right thing for me and my family. I wanted to share with you some of the things I have learnt across the last 12 months:
Be brave enough to say no sometimes
This one is tough. Sometimes I stare at a blank calendar and think ‘that’s it, it’s over’. At other times it’s manic and the work comes around like the 133 to Brixton. Feast or famine, it’s not comfortable, but it’s important not to accept everything that comes in. I check against a lot of criteria – time, my values, other commitments and ultimately where I want Heale Solutions to go. More recently I have even checked in against my own wellbeing. Be kind to yourself.
Be realistic about time
For those of you considering selling time, a word of warning. Consider an 8-hour day in a traditional office environment: meetings, chats, lunch breaks, emails, admin time. Not everything can be considered ‘chargeable’ so unless you are of the bot variety, allow for time you cannot charge in each day. An 8-hour day takes me 10 hours once I’ve taken a walk, had a break or two, been to the fridge for the 17th time and accepted the odd call.
Grab and embrace the down time
The guilt is real and downtime can feel like you may never get up again. The truth is that flexible working and freelancing can be tough and lots of us burn out. There’s less security and we need to work hard to reproduce the things that workplaces provide. This makes it even more important that we embrace the flexibility we have opted into to enjoy things like daylight hours, lunch breaks, the odd visit or exercise class. These things recharge us and make up for the overtime hours and less fun flex that we have to lean into. Both have their place!
Find a Tribe
Freelancing and self-employment can be lonely, but there are a lot of us out here. I spend time with other freelancers on planning days, chatting in WhatsApp groups, meeting through leadership networks and on lots of calls to bounce ideas. It keeps us going and gives us somewhere to think out loud. This doesn’t need to be formal. When you meet someone you like, ask them if they’d be keen to talk again and then place that call just when you might need it.
Recommend each other
The freelance world is booming as organisations need more flexible resource – hooray – but they might not always need you at that time. I recommend peers, ex-colleagues and people who are just better suited than me unreservedly and generously and it feels great. Supporting each other is important, and sometimes it comes back around!
That’s all from me. Freelancing is a funny freedom and it’s so important to enjoy the great perks that come with it rather than chaining yourself to the very timetable and rules you walked away from. I hope these little insights help you on your way.
Who is Susie Heale?
Susie runs Heale Solutions, a company that designs and delivers training and learning solutions for clients. Heale Solutions has been nominated for 2 awards in its first year, most recently as Start Up of the year 2020.
Check out Heale Solutions via Susie’s website for training and learning services – we love the Parent Talent page, where Susie helps organisations retain and engage parent talent – listen up, business owners!