Everyday Tales of Business Folk: a business story for business people – Episode 12

Our hero Katherine has weathered the storm, and is going for her coffee and cake session with Julia Chanteray, her dad’s business adviser and the person who got her the work with Oliver.

She’s clutching a home made lemon drizzle cake, still warm from the oven. She feels really nervous about seeing Julia, even though she’s got a big list of questions.

“So, thanks for getting me that work with Oliver. I’ve really enjoyed it, and you have no idea how much I needed the money. I’ve enjoyed doing the other bits and pieces of writing as well, and I’m thinking about going freelance. But I’m a bit confused by all the other advice I’ve been getting, from other people who are self employed, lots of people have been putting me off, and I don’t know whether that’s really what I want to do. I might be getting into something I don’t understand, and just doing all of this because I haven’t found the right job yet…”

Katherine runs out of breath as she just downloads all the things she’s been worrying about as soon as she gets into Julia’s office. She hasn’t even taken off her coat, or given Julia the cake yet.

“Well, okay, there are few things to think about there,” smiles Julia, taking the cake from Katherine. “Tell me about your previous job, what you liked about it, and what you didn’t.”

“What I liked…I liked the people, I liked the team, I was really good at the job, and I miss that so much.” Katherine’s eyes start to fill up with tears. “Tell me specifically what you were good at,” Julia passes over a box of tissues, as if she’s used to people crying in her office all the time.

“I was really good at creating all kinds of content ideas. I think I was good at coming up with new things. And the clients seemed to get really good results, because we had this approach where we could test what they were putting out online and see if it was working. We did a lot of split testing and developing sales funnels, so I think I was good at the techie side of it as well as putting the content together. Most people seem to just bung stuff up online, and see what happens, but I liked seeing the results, getting the data in, and refining the approach. I’m pretty organised, so I liked having all the spreadsheets and reports” Katherine and Julia talked for a good while longer. About what Katherine wanted to do longer term, how much money she wanted to earn, how important it was to her to be around other people.

Again, Katherine felt like she was coming alive again, being a proper grown up professional, rather than a slouchy unemployed nothing person.

What they came up with was that Katherine definitely shouldn’t be a freelancer. She’d get bored really quickly if she was just writing content for people, because she needed to be working on the strategy and the analysis, as well as the creative side. And Julia pointed out that although you could make a perfectly good living out of being a copywriter, you had to work a lot of hours to ever get above about 35k profit.

Katherine’s professional self knew that she didn’t want to just sit at her desk typing away all day with just the cats for company, and that she wanted to have enough money to buy a flat, have some holidays, and feel secure. The past few months had contained some hard lessons about financial security.

“So it sounds to me like what you really want is to set up your own agency, offering content generation with ROI measurement tools, and build it up to be a reasonable size. Would you like some help with doing that?” asks Julia, Katherine swallows.

“Well, yes. I would like some help, but I don’t think I can afford you. I read about your sliding scale of fees on your website, and I can’t afford even your basic package. I need that money from Oliver to live on, and I don’t know where the next money is coming from.”

“Well, you’ve survived this long, so I think you’ll probably be okay. I might have some other clients who need some content, and I think if you put the word out to your network, you’d probably pick up some initial work quite quickly. That might be enough to buy you some business advice, a simple website and some business cards. That’s probably all you need to get started.”

They chatted a bit more, and Julia answered all the questions on Katherine’s long list, all about VAT, limited companies, keeping records.

Walking back to the flat, Katherine’s mood went from elation and excitement to despondency, and back to wanting to jump up and down with glee. And back again. When she got in, she phoned her dad.

Tomorrow. Our last but one instalment. What will Katherine do? Will she be able to afford to work with Julia? Should she? Or will she carry on doing bits and pieces of work for friends. Will the cats ever eat real cat food again? And what will her dad say? Click here to find out.