If you’ve often wondered how other people structure their freelancing lives and what on earth got them into running their own business in the first place, you’re in the right place for a good old snoop around.
This Friday, Rebecca Waldron of White Rose Ceremonies shares her thoughts on running not one, but two businesses and how she came to move from a background in HR to becoming a Civil Celebrant, please read on and get to know this weeks’ Freelancer Friday interviewee!
This is a tall order, a mini bio for somebody of my advanced years! Well, I’m the only girl in a family of five children, Chief Goalie and Scapegoat for my irrepressible brothers. I spent three years in the RAF and decided I didn’t like rules, then spent the next 32 years in Human Resources (oh the irony!), achieving the status of Chartered Fellow of the CIPD. I am now self-employed as a Civil Celebrant with White Rose Ceremonies and this is my main focus every day. A qualified Life Coach, I am also a freelance Diversity and Management Trainer with Fresh Challenges and an Associate Lecturer at Bedford College. I have three children aged 21, 19 and 16, and the most wonderful husband in the world. Something you don’t know about me? I was adopted at three months old. My father was from Venezuela and yes, he was a sailor…
How long have you been running your business and what got you started?
I have been running my business since 7th October 2013. My youngest brother died suddenly in 2012 at the age of 43; his funeral was an impressive, pompous and ceremonial service at Norwich Cathedral but, I couldn’t get near him to say goodbye because of that. That was the catalyst for becoming a Civil Celebrant and I haven’t looked back. My promise to every family that I work with, regardless of whether the ceremony is a wedding, baby naming or funeral, is that it will be what they want it to be. Not what society or any particular institution says it should be.
Typical Working Day
Generally I wake up around 5:00am and will often be found loitering around the internet in the early hours. I’ve always been an early bird so important meetings will typically take place before 3pm. After that my brain starts to wind down and by 9pm I can barely speak in complete sentences. This does pose me a slight problem when lecturing in the evenings at Bedford College. I’m told that I make an impression when I’m there, but that is probably because my head is on the desk for most of the lecture…..
My biggest challenge is motivation. I don’t lack motivation to do what I love, but I do lack motivation to do all those things I find boring or difficult. I am very good at ‘avoidance techniques’ and just recently cleaned the house top to bottom rather than tackle a difficult job, which really had to be done by a certain time. Of course the job was sent on time and the house was clean so it was a win/win really!
Best element of being my own boss
The best element of being my own boss is the flexibility and being able to make my own decisions. And the people I meet. And the work that I do. And the opportunities that I have. So many great elements – why didn’t I do this years ago?!
Work Life Balance
A lot of my clients need to see me in the evenings or weekends to discuss their ceremonies but I have to work normal ‘office’ hours to meet my training and lecturing commitments, which leaves very little time to exercise or relax. My husband is a great one for saying “time for me now!” which brings me back to the real world. We try to have as much of a normal weekend as possible but my focus, going into year two, will be to work on getting the balance right.
Where do you work from?
I work from my study at home, a cosy space which is used only for my work. Given the nature of my work it would not make financial sense to take up co-working space anywhere, although I do miss the camaraderie and companionship you get from working in a team. To compensate I have an ‘Accountability Buddy’ in Jo Christy from Stir Up Media and we check in with each other regularly to see how we are getting on, not just with tasks but in terms of how we are dealing with the pressures from a personal point of view. When you’re working on your own it’s important to have somebody there to help you keep things in perspective.
A regular break for coffee, exercise of lunch?
I try and make sure I have a drink every hour – it has to be that prescriptive because otherwise I get completely lost in what I’m doing and then time flies. Exercise consists of a walk first thing in the morning when I can. It’s a bit of an effort but I absolutely adore the quietness of dawn with only the birds singing. Leave it a bit later and the noise of the traffic drowns that out! Lunch may or may not happen depending on where I am but if I’m organised I’ll remember to take something in the car to eat while on the go.
I wouldn’t be without social media as it suits my business perfectly. Weddings, Baby Namings and Funerals all involve writing scripts and I write many Eulogies for Funerals, many of which are over 1000 words. Because of the number of words I type I have recently bought voice recognition software called Dragon Naturally Speaking (Nuance). I can literally sit and talk to myself while my little dragon types it all up on the screen. She needed a little training but we get on famously now and I wouldn’t be without her!
I’m a keen advocate of the right kind of networking. My business is collaborative – it’s all about building relationships and trust. It does not suit networking where the focus is on pure lead generation. I attend networking as much as possible and I enjoy the groups I attend such as the Cambourne Network and St Neots Business Coffee Morning. The generosity of the welcome in these groups is what sets them apart from others.
If you are leaving a job with a permanent contract to go freelance, imagine you are falling off a cliff without a parachute before you hand your notice in. This will give you a good idea of what it feels like to be cut loose without regular financial income, so do plenty of research, find out who is doing the same thing as you and where they are doing it. And, if possible, save money to pay your bills for a while so you’re not worrying about that while concentrating on trying to build a business. Oh – and finally, stock up your wardrobe before you go freelance because you might not be able to afford to buy those gorgeous outfits you like for quite some time!
How to find me
White Rose Ceremonies and Fresh Challenges can be found here:
Thanks so much Rebecca for taking part in our Freelancer Friday series, if you would like to put yourself (or somebody else worthy of being featured) forward, let’s talk!
If you would like to read the other Freelancer Friday interviews in this series, please have a nosey here.