Everyday Tales of Business Folk: a business story for business people – Episode 8

Our hero Katherine has sent off her triple price point proposal to Julia Chanteray, who wants some copy for one of her clients. She’s waiting to hear back.

But Julia’s busy, seeing all her/my other clients. And who knows how long Julia’s client will ponder on the proposal. But doing that has set something off in Katherine. She’s done a proposal and priced it up. She might get some work.

Of course she woke up at 4.30am, convinced that it was all wrong and giving herself a hell of a time for not including a long term social media contract. Until she remembered all the times that her old company had sold clients a deal where they outsource their twitter accounts to them, and Katherine had always thought that it would be much better for the client to do this themselves. Then she could go back to sleep, until 7am when she bounced out of bed.

The cats were very annoyed by this, they’d got used to a nice lazy lie in, before getting up for breakfast in preparation for another lie in. Katherine has lots to think about. She calls her friend Claire and they meet up for coffee. “Claire, I’m thinking about going freelance. I’m getting rejected for these crappy jobs I could do in my sleep, and I’m bored and running out of money” she blurts out. “Oh.” Claire stirs her latte. “I’m not sure that’s for you dear. It’s really hard running your own business, and freelancing might be a good way of tiding you over, but being self employed isn’t for everyone. You always have to worry about where the next piece of work is coming from, managing cash flow is a nightmare, and the clients, well between you and me, the clients can be a nightmare too.” “But I’m worried about cash flow now, because the cash is just flowing out, and nothing’s coming in. And I had to worry about where the next job was coming from in my old job, because we had these targets to meet. And look where that got me. I brought in hundreds of thousands of pounds for those guys and then I’m just out on my ear.” “But you’re so risk averse. I’m really surprised to hear you say this. I think you’d be much better off with a regular job.” Claire looks sad and changes the subject.

Katherine feels deflated. Claire has her own company, you’d think she’d be all for Katherine joining the ranks of the self employed. She Skypes her cousin, Gareth, who has his own plumbing business in Ontario, later that evening “Hi Gareth. You know how I lost my job a few months ago, well I’m thinking about going freelance, and as you’re self employed, I thought I’d ask you whether you’d recommend it” Gareth waves back, he’s Skyping while he’s clearing his living room of the hundreds of toys his three children have left lying around. “Well, I dunno. I’m making good money, which is just as well because these little guys sure know how to spend it, but I’m working all kind of hours to make the money. Do you really think you want to have that sort of lifestyle? You always used to be the party girl, having a good time.”

“Gareth, that was when I was 18. I’m 38 now, and life is a lot calmer.” A bit too calm, she thought as she thought about how she hadn’t been out for weeks. “Maybe. But some people think that going self employed is a quick fix, when they need a bit of extra money in between jobs. But it took me more than 2 years to get set up once I left my apprenticeship, and I had some hard times in those years. If it wasn’t for Melanie bringing in money from her job, we would have been screwed. I can lend you some money, if you’re short for the rent, but think about it carefully. You’d need to get a website, do loads of marketing, go to networking events, the work doesn’t just flow in, you know.”

Katherine and Gareth talk on for ages, until Melanie, Gareth’s wife comes in and gets him to go to bed. Katherine’s left with a lot to think about. None of her friends and family seem to think this is a good idea, or take her seriously.

But what else is she going to do? She has to do something, and writing that proposal had felt so good.

Our next instalment. Will Katherine’s proposal come to anything? Will she take the plunge? Or are her family and friends right, and she should just look for a job? Find out here.