How I made it: Metilda Stanley
Tell us a little bit about why you decided to embark on a freelance career!
Well, it’s the same story as for many others I think. When you have hit the glass ceiling in the corporate world, or start feeling disengaged, you start looking for other things. The first signal is when you start dragging yourself to work on a Monday morning. Even when I was working, I was evaluating other areas of interest like teaching and mentoring as guest faculty in a few colleges. That is when I realized that I enjoy the advisory role.
What do you wish you knew when you first started out that would have helped you?
In a job, your mind is programmed to a schedule, a fixed salary and operating within your comfort zone. When you step out, you can feel all alone and indecisive about the next steps. Looking back, I wish there was someone who guided me during these uncertain moments or to guided me on my discovery path. Somebody who would have been willing to hear you out and give guidance on where it fits in the larger scheme of things. A platform/community which can offer a stepping stone to connect with businesses or fellow freelancers would have been great!
Are there some freelancing pros and cons that you think people perhaps don’t realise?
Freelancing offers you the flexibility of time, to pursue your other interests in life. It gives you an opportunity to see the world from a fresh perspective. There is no one judging you and you are not under pressure to perform. That itself makes you dare and think different. For instance, I was attached to a brand for a long time. While I knew my peers and friends from other companies, there was this invisible line between us. We find that we are opening up better now when I’m an independent. I have made some amazing connects and friends in these two years, explored new geographies and explored new domains.
The cons are you lose on your regular income, and there is uncertainty in terms of the future that you face. You need to be clear on what you need. If it is 100% security, then you need to re-evaluate if your true calling is to be a freelancer.
What is it you still struggle with as a freelancer, if anything?
I struggle on two fronts.
- To increase my network which in turn will improve my opportunities. I have, therefore, realized that it makes sense to collaborate and form strategic alliances which helps your outreach and opportunities
- To be taken seriously in few instances when people do not stick to their commitment of time.
What resources have you found useful as a freelancer?
I have found platforms from outside India who support freelancers and I have provided advice through them. Such examples include www.alphasights.com , www.thirdbridge.com, and www.glg.it. These are platforms primarily for hourly expert advice and consultations, as opposed to longer-term engagements though. Apart from these, I have leveraged my own connections and that has helped get assignments for me and a few fellow consultants.
Are there areas you would like support but haven’t yet found anything useful?
I would like to connect with other freelancers from both my own and other industries to understand how it has worked and evolved in the past for them. I see a huge opportunity to co-create, collaborate, and offer our expertise to conglomerates in and outside of India. It would be interesting to know how they manage to keep themselves updated, perhaps sharing information about online courses available. Also, connecting with others will help to understand market practices and remuneration for consultancy services in other emerging markets.
Any other top tips to people thinking about going into freelancing?
One important tip to all freelancers to is to keep updating and upskilling yourself regularly. It is imperative to catch up on regulations, the developments in markets other than India, developments in the BFSI sector so that your skills and knowledge remain relevant.
The other important aspect is to keep yourself debt-free and have at least 18-24 months savings to help you gain ground as a freelancer!
What would you do differently from Day 1 if you could time travel?
Honestly, I would not change anything. There have been challenges and achievements but each step has been a learning. I was part of a start-up in the first year as a freelancer and in the second year founded my own venture AdWISE Assure Pvt Ltd. These two years have been helpful in grooming my entrepreneurial skills. It has given me new confidence to go further, raise the bar and explore avenues which I would not have thought of in my erstwhile avatar as an employee!