Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 14th 2014 Contents SBG6 | NEWS
December 14 • 2014 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
George is in his early forties. Early
this year, he made the move from
being a writer at an advertising
agency to doing consultancy
work for his own clients. He is
his own boss, sets his own hours and would
have things no other way.
"I am a very self-directed person and I like
being my own boss and I like doing my own
thing." said George.
Margaret headed a department a large com-
pany, but left because she began feeling burnt
"One of the main reasons is the stress at
corporate level was very, very high and at the
end of the day, I felt I was giving up so much
of my time and energy for a business that is
not my own. Why don't I put that effort and
all of my own energy into something that I
could build for me."
Unlike George and Margaret, Jim didn't have
much of a choice in leaving his senior managerial
"I was fired." he said baldly, "Office politics.
At the time I left, I was doing some training
on the side, which was actually used as one of
the reasons for my dismissal. That is what I
continued doing after I was let go. It became
People are leaving full-time employment for
a number of reasons. And it seems as though
this is one of the major workplace trends of
the future. According to a Forbes magazine
article, more than one-third of the American
workforce is now freelance. This represents 53
million workers or 34 per cent of the American
Freelancers could be, but are not always
entrepreneurs. Both George and Jim freelance
with larger organisations to provide them with
services they need, but do not necessarily have
the internal talent to do themselves. Margaret
started her own business, selling a food product
that she created from her own recipes.
George was lucky in that his company allowed
him to work from a 'virtual office' at home,
which gave him all the flexibility of a freelance
job, while he retained his benefits from the
"I would come in two days a week, one day
a week sometimes, whenever they needed me.
Other than that I worked from home. I got a
retainer and on top of that, I got paid for what
It was this opportunity that made him realise
for the first time that being a freelancer might
Margaret had her savings from her job. Out
of this, she was able to start her new business
Even though both had these relative head
starts, they reported that they were, at first,
scared to take the step out into the unknown.
"It was very difficult. We went from being
a two-salary home, to having one. And then
my husband is in insurance, so his income is
based on commissions. It was really difficult
to start up." said Margaret."I really had to budget
Margaret said if she had to do it again, or
give anyone advice on a move from corporate
to freelance, she would tell them to build their
business while they still had a job.
George agrees on this point and adds that
before he left his job, he put aside some six
months worth of emergency funds.
"The key to this is to build some sort of
reserve that will give the business time to grow,"
said financial advisor and Pan American agency
head, Winston Williams.
Williams advised sourcing capital from non-
traditional sources including family and friends,
as banks were not likely to lend, or ask for too
much collateral in the case of start ups and
sole traderships like George's offering individual
He said the parameters under which the
money was being sourced needed to be clear
from the beginning.
"The issue in those cases is to clearly establish
if the financing being sourced is a loan, or is
it equity. When you don't make that clear, hear
is what happens. The business does well, they
want to convert the money into shares because
they want to own part of the business. The
business is not doing well, then they say, you
have to pay me back my money."
Williams also suggested that those wanting
to make the jump from full-time work to free-
lance consultancy take some time to develop
a reputation among their prospective clientele.
He said this could be done through lectur-
"You can build credibility here as well as
network with students who may eventually
hire you as a client."
George said credibility is at the heart of every-
thing he does and he said those who hope to
transition from the corporate world to freelance
work must have their own, very strong brand,
know what their prospective clients want and
how to give it to them.
Williams also said that people must take the
time to understand the business or field they
want to enter.
"Having a good business idea, does not make
me a good business man. I may be very good
running a business."
Managing cashflow once one is freelance is
also important, said Williams.
"You can run a business without a profit for
two years, three years. But you cannot run a
business without cash for one day."
Williams' solution here is for leapers to find
a way to balance debt and equity in their busi-
He also said in the beginning those moving
from corporate to freelance need to keep their
"Expenses will keep coming at you whether
you do business or not. Managing those costs
is crucial. Some options may be to work from
home and convert a bedroom into an office
and then work from there, so they don't have
If the potential mover from the corporate
world to freelance plays her cards right, the
results of the switch could be rewarding both
in terms of remuneration and peace of mind.
Some months, George said he makes as much
as three times as he did working full time.
Margaret said, "At my old job, I started to
get health problems. I said I am not going to
let this job kill me. My company is small, but
it is something that I am passionate about and
I am really proud of what I have been able to
Making the Leap
Moving from corporate to freelance
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