A word cloud of traits needed to be a freelancer would most certainly be dominated by “Resiliance” and “Flexibility”, and thankfully not “Perfectionist”. Sure, freelancers want to deliver the best for their clients and rightly so, but striving for perfection can sometimes hold progression back. As Oasis once sang, “True perfection has to be imperfect”.
Just one of the lessons learnt from this week’s Featured Freelancer and, what follows, are some more lessons from this journey of 3 years as a freelancer. Enjoy…
What is your name, where are you based, and what do you do?
My name’s Bryony Rust. I’m an independent Speech and Language Therapist from the Isle of Wight. I help children to improve their communication skills so that they can live life to the full.
How long have you been freelancing and why did you decide to become a freelancer?
I’ve worked independently for the last 3 years. Prior to that I was working in a large organisation. I became quite disillusioned about my ability to make a positive impact within that structure. So, when the opportunity arose to take redundancy and strike out on my own I took it.
What support did you have from family and friends? Did anyone advise you against becoming freelance?
My husband’s been hugely supportive from the beginning of the adventure. He’s been my cheerleader when I’ve been too tired to believe in myself. Over time I’ve also built up a support network of other like-minded people (Freelance Heroes included!) which has made all the difference.
I can’t recall many people advising me against it, though one conversation comes to mind where an old colleague told me it ‘couldn’t be done’. Recalling that conversation is part of what spurs me on.
Did you use any professional support resources in starting your freelance business?
I did seek out support from various ‘start-up’ organisations and charities including ASLTIP, the Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice. Some of the most valuable support was incidental, reading articles and keeping my ear to the ground.
How would you describe your clients or customers?
I’m really fortunate to work with families who are totally engaged in the therapy process. They’re keen to talk and understand more about their child’s speech, language and communication development. I love having those conversations.
Why do your clients/customers select you over your competitors?
I’ve never asked them! From the feedback that I do receive, I think they value my ability to form a positive relationship with their child and make therapy a fun collaborative process.
Is being a freelancer what you expected? e.g. Do you work more hours (or less) than you had first anticipated?
I certainly work more hours than I anticipated. But I enjoy so much of it that I truly don’t mind. I’ve also been surprised by the business element of it. Considering myself a therapist first and foremost, it’s been surprising to become a businesswoman to boot. A lot of the business side has been more creative and enjoyable than I expected.
What app or website could you not run your business without, and why?
Clearbooks. I set up early on with the cloud-based accounting software and also found my accountant through their network. It’s been invaluable to have the finance aspect of business covered efficiently from the beginning.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start a freelance business, specifically in your field?
Do it (of course!) and set some goals at the beginning. Actually write them down. Having an idea of your big ‘why’ at the heart of things can really help when making decisions over time.
What are the most notable things you have learnt since starting your business; either about running a business or about yourself?
You simply have to keep moving forward. There are so many decisions involved, I found it daunting at the beginning. It can be challenge to shift from working in a team where most decisions are bounced around in a group before being settled on. Going solo involves flexing your decision muscle more than ever!
And take time for yourself, preferably outside. Being able to go for a run in the middle of the day when the sun is shining is definitely one of those moments that makes you appreciate your autonomy.
What is it about being a freelancer that you most enjoy?
Flexibility and creativity. I like being able to try out new things and explore the work that I’m most interested in.
What do you enjoy the least about being a freelancer?
Unpredictability. It’s a payoff though, as that is part of what provides the freedom and flexibility.
What is your ultimate professional goal as a freelancer?
I want to share ideas that inspire action and encourage a positive dialogue about helping children with speech, language and communication needs.
What one thing do you wish you had known before you became a freelancer?
It’s all about progress, not perfection.
To connect with Bryony, visit:
You can also connect through the Freelance Heroes Facebook Group