I was recently asked by a young chap, fresh out of university for my thoughts and advice on the direction of his career, as he was considering entering the world of PR and Marketing.
As I approach my 6th birthday, his question prompted me to give some thought to my own journey. These are just some of the pointers I gave him:
- Do take a look at your potential competitors, what they’re offering and their experience. The recent recession created lots of new opportunities for Soletraders, but it also means there are a number of skilled and experienced individuals out there, all looking for work. So do consider your USP, what can you offer that these others can’t or what can you do better, how can you add value? Do some competitor analysis.
- If you’re considering freelancing/working for yourself, do you have the right mentality? One has to wear many different hats (sales director, marketing director, finance director et al), promote one’s own business and generate enquiries and sales whilst serving one’s clients. I work from a home office, massively self-motivated and the challenge of working alone doesn’t cause me any issue, but for some it does. Some people need to be surrounded by others.
- Working for oneself brings its own rewards, such as flexibility over working hours, but we don’t get paid when we’re sick or when we take holidays. It’s a different kind of stress to working for another company (my background is large corporates) but at least I create my own opportunities, and own the decision-making.
- Do you have sufficient expertise and experience to work for yourself, or would you be better off working for someone else and gaining that experience over a period of time? My background is 25+ years in sales and marketing, predominantly in the motor trade. I’ve purposely created a really diverse portfolio over the past 6 years to ensure I wasn’t pigeon-holed. I got into marketing via the events route and worked my way up from there, to Assistant Manager in a Communications role managing a team of seven, at Nissan head office, before becoming Group Marketing Manager for a large dealer group again with a team of people.
- What’s really important to me is the type of people I work with. I’m a really passionate individual and like to work with like-minded people. I find it easier to establish a good working relationship with small business owners rather than corporates, because I find generally they’re much more involved and engaged.
- I’ve built up really strong relationships with third parties, such as copywriters, designers, printers, web developers etc, to support my business and my clients and outsource projects to them when I need either additional expertise or time.
- The majority of my enquiries come from referral and recommendation, or the internet. It can be lonely working for oneself, so a support network of whatever nature is fundamental. Google ‘networking’ alongside your town and you’ll find countless local opportunities!
I hope these thoughts and tips help if you’re looking to change direction and work for yourself.
If you need further assistance, developing your ideas into a brand strategy and communications plan, please do get in touch!