Given the choice, which one would you pursue? The killer work, I’m sure. You chose to become an independent so you could channel your energies into this area, following the adage, “Love what you do, and you will never work a day in your life.”
But there’s the reality of hard times. When we find ourselves living paycheque to paycheque, a scarcity mentality can creep up on us. And that’s what often keeps us mired in caca work.
This is particularly true in the early days of being an independent. You focus on getting those first few contracts and doing the best job possible. It doesn’t matter whether the work is exciting or not, you don’t have the luxury of saying no. Frankly, you’re excited to have any clients at all.
Or perhaps you never stopped to figure out what your killer work is, or were hesitant to go after it. You’ve been in your comfort zone cranking out cover work for years, why rock the boat now?
If, for whatever reason, the joy you thought being an independent would bring isn’t there right now, this could be the ideal moment to redirect your business to capture emerging killer work opportunities and fill your days with more joyful labour. Here are a few thoughts to bear in mind:
- Reflect on what the work you love doing looks like.
- Align your energy with what you are curious about.
- Give yourself space to figure out what you want to focus on and the freedom to experiment.
- Revisit your personal mission statement. If you don’t have one, get cracking with Write your personal mission statement.
- Be specific about the work you want to attract and what you will offer.
- Figure out what you need to leave behind to step into your future work.
- Remember that when a ship is changing direction, there’s a moment when the sail goes slack. Not to worry; it is simply part of the process, you will pick up speed again.
- Talk to other independents to learn how they built their business over time and transitioned into doing the work they love.
When did you launch your independent business and how did it come about?
I spent 30 years working mostly for large corporations, and learned a lot along the way—about my craft as well as about myself. Last fall, I started reflecting on the ideal next step for me. I knew I wasn’t a routine person, that I enjoy variety and like projects with a beginning and an end.
Throughout my career, I pondered the idea of having my own practice, but fear held me back. I realized it was now or never. I shared the idea with a few people around me and everyone was extremely encouraging. I also started getting offers to consult on a few projects and really enjoyed it. So, I launched D. Communications in May 2021.
What do you enjoy most about being an indie so far?
I love the diversity of projects and clients I serve. So far, I have supported small companies, charitable organizations and large corporations, each with different needs: I created a PR plan, helped finalize a narrative, advised on a stakeholder engagement strategy and helped manage a potential crisis, among others. I am also quite honoured to help someone I consider to be the best presentation coach in Canada deliver some of her sessions.
What don’t you like about being an indie?
It is a bit early to say. Ask me again in a year! That said, if I had to name something, I would say that as an independent, I expect there will be busy times and not-so-busy times. I like to be very busy so I suspect the not-so-busy cycles will be challenging for me. I already factored that in my plan and have identified things like training I can do when business is slower.
How long have you been an IABC member and what value do you get from your membership?
I joined IABC in the late 1990s. I was a member of another large association but decided to focus on IABC only because of the outstanding quality of the newsletter, professional development and other offerings. I even served on the Montreal board for a couple of years.
IABC continues to be my source of professional development, excellence and networking. I attended the virtual conference this year after years of not being able to travel to them because work was too busy. I enjoyed it so much! I look forward to next year’s conference and other IABC and PIC activities.
What advice would you give someone new to independent life?
In the few months I’ve been operating as an independent, I have found two things to be most useful:
1. Spend time on your business plan whether or not you need financing.
I didn’t think I needed a business plan because I am self-financing my business, but it’s probably the best thing I have done so far. It forced me to think about all aspects of the business and to prepare for all possibilities—good and bad. For example, how will I conduct business development, how will I manage growth, what does the market look like in my specific niche, what are my cash flow and financing projections, how will I manage security, etc. I regularly review the plan to update it with any new insight. It has helped me formalize my approach and equipped me to manage my business with clear objectives and key performance indicators.
2. Build a strong support network with other entrepreneurs.
I feel very lucky to be in regular contact with a few women entrepreneurs with whom I can share the journey. They are at different stages of the entrepreneurial experience—some starting just like me and others well established. We share advice and experiences, inspire and support each other. This is priceless to me.
Our heartfelt thanks as we warmly welcome or say a fond farewell to members of the PIC executive.
We’re delighted to welcome to our ranks:
- Brent Artemchuk, director of marketing & sponsorship
- Austine Fischer, who is co-director of communications & social media with Sue Horner
- Maureen Hosein, director of membership
- Gaby Moreno and Christopher Trotman, co-directors of programming.
We’re saying farewell and thanks to:
- Judy Irwin, ABC and Sharon McMillan, who have so capably kept us informed and entertained through several years of programming professional development events and socials.
- Kathy Lim, who has welcomed new members, taken minutes of our exec meetings and applied her eagle eye to proofreading The Buzz.
- Nancy Miller, PhD, who transitioned our newsletter from a PDF to a bright, flowing online version that gets rave reviews as being “graphically beautiful” and “very trendy.”