January 17th marks exactly one year since I officially registered my activity as a freelancer and created the Augam brand. If someone had told me 5 years ago that this would be the direction my career would take, I would have found it hard to believe. Especially since I would be working for myself in another country, and even more interestingly, I would be doing most of it in French, when the last time I spoke French was more than 15 years ago in high school 🙂
It’s incredible how quickly the first year has gone by, and what it hasn’t lacked is the constant swell, the challenges, the frustration, the despair, but at the same time the joy, the self-satisfaction and the stepping out of the comfort zone.
The key moments, thoughts and lessons of the first year that I want to capture:
- Any plan or strategy is not a fixed thing, but a direction. Naturally, priorities or even lines of action are still in the process of being refined in the first year, as there is a journey of discovery and often mistakes. This is what happened to me too – I initially planned to cover coaching and all areas of HR management, to work more as an HR consultant, but out of the several areas of HR, I chose to continue with one – recruitment and my beloved coaching;
- Sometimes we hope that once we have our own website, make a presentation of our services, announce the new phase on social media and contact all our friends and acquaintances, the clients will come automatically. Unfortunately, nothing happens automatically and a passive waiting strategy alone does not work;
- In an age of information overload, it is easy to get lost in all the advice, guidance and training. It is crucial to choose what is worth listening to, to trust but verify, and to find what is most suitable for you personally and in line with your values. For example, many consultants specialising in communication and image on social networks say that you need to be constantly communicating in the public space, that you need to be visible, to create your own image and so on. However, I personally find it difficult and unnatural to do this all the time. I believe that my ideal clients are like me, who like moderation, true stories, are a bit sarcastic and don’t accept for granted all the very positive content that is put out in public, because they understand that life has many different colours;
- Whereas before, when working as an employee, you had to be around the same people, the change of direction has naturally led to a much larger number of people doing similar activities. This means that over time, a kind of community develops where support can be found, failures can be shared, successes can be celebrated and best practices exchanged. This is particularly important in the early days – to have someone to share with;
- Working for yourself is a constant step out of your comfort zone and the end result (including financial results) depends 100% on the effort you put in. My biggest out-of-comfort zones were asking for help, contacting complete strangers to offer my services, speaking French in public;
- In my case, being self-employed for the first time in my life and in a different country, there was the additional challenge of adapting to a completely new market and cultural environment, and understanding the local rules of the game. I can’t say that after one year everything has become very clear, but I’ve already made some progress 🙂 I can already see the fundamental differences between the labour market in Lithuania and France, what is taken for granted in Lithuania and what is still in the process of being developed in France, etc..;
- Saying “yes” to new opportunities and expanding your circle of contacts is one of the key elements in developing your business. Even if it is scary at first, or even if it is not entirely clear how things will work out , I find it most rewarding to take on challenges and learn as I go along. After all, courage is not about not being afraid, but about acting even in the face of fear;
- Many people who are thinking of starting a freelance activity in the future are discouraged by the possible negative reactions of those around them. What surprised me very pleasantly in the first year was the amount of support and positive comments I received. Sometimes certain beliefs are just in our heads;
- It is rare to hear from the environment that in the first year one can already fully survive on the income generated by self-employment (myself included). We can create optimistic scenarios, but we need to be realistic about the possibilities and have some financial cushion;
- Inevitably, especially during periods of reduced activity, the thoughts “why the hell am I doing all this? Why am I bothering? Maybe it’s time to stop and go back to being an employee?”. So often the pros and cons exercise comes to the rescue, when you can see clearly where the choice lies;
- Finding a healthy boundary between work and rest is not always easy, and listening to your body and taking time to stop and rest is crucial;
- It is very easy to be overwhelmed by a lot of technical tasks every day, to be busy all the time, but it is useful to do a kind of audit of one’s own performance from time to time – to what extent is the work I am doing bringing me closer to the result I want to achieve and creating added value? The Pareto Principle is good for this – which 20% of my work is delivering 80% of the result?
- And finally, it is very important to remember to stop and celebrate even small victories. If necessary, set a reminder on your phone and train yourself to notice the positives, because they are there, and if we tend to put on negative glasses, we may not notice them.
That is what my first year as a freelancer has been like. Thank you for reading and growing together!
With best wishes for growth,