How I Made It – Nidhi Bhasin

Freelancer to Founder

Tell us a little bit about why you decided to embark on a freelance career!

Honestly, the way it started was that I was in a corporate role, and I wasn’t happy with where I was, and I quit actually for the time without a plan! Then eventually, when I was looking for jobs, I started getting some freelance consulting gigs. What I realised was that I was enjoying this much more than a regular corporate job, few reasons for that, because of course I had control of my time, I could earn much more doing freelance gigs, and lastly that when people, especially at my level or my experience hire somebody, they trust that person’s opinions far more than they would if that same person was an internal employee – it’s a slightly sad truth but that how it is.

Also, the one great thing that I found was like, I’ve always had this hunger to learn new things, but what I realised was, in a job, your learning would be limited to that domain, that industry, where that company operates, in a freelance world, you’re working on so many different industries that there’s so much cross-industry learning that’s happening. So many different points of view. Many ways in which companies operate so many new tools, so many new terminologies, business metrics, all of that, along with what you’re doing, there’s just so much more learning happening, which I thoroughly love. Hence, when the decision came to go back to a perm role vs continuing the freelancer, I chose the latter.

What do you wish you knew when you first started out that would have helped you?

I wish I knew that it was going to be this fun. I would have started sooner.

What are some pros and cons with freelancing that you don’t think people realize?

I’ll begin with the cons – your income will not be as continuous as a salary. Once the project ends, no matter how long you’ve been on it or how short a project has been, it still feels like you’re losing something. The second is a lack of a pipeline of projects. If you don’t constantly work at it, that will be a con.

The pros are the same as I mentioned earlier, which made me take on this journey – you have control over your time, you have the ability to earn so much more, and the possibility of learning is endless.

Is there anything you still struggle with as a freelancer?

Yeah. Getting a continuous pipeline of clients is sometimes still a bit of a struggle. I think Outsized has helped me in that respect, though. Some of the engagements via Outsized that initially started as a two-month engagement are now carrying over to a year and a half or two years, so that issue has undoubtedly been minimised.

Are there any resources you have found useful as a freelancer?

I absolutely love YouTube because no matter what learning I need, it’s all there on YouTube. Whether it is on finding clients or being more effective as a freelancer or even with digital knowledge, right? People consider freelancers to be subject matter experts. So, you better be one. When you’re not in a job where the company invests in your training or learning, a lot of that onus is on you. A lot of that knowledge discovery and consumption happens on YouTube for me.

Other than YouTube, I like to invest my time in studying case studies and industry news; both these resources help me stay on top of the constant changes that our industry goes through. Lastly, I like to experiment with new tools to see which can help me become better at my specialisation.

Are there areas you would like support but haven’t yet found anything useful?

No matter at what stage, I feel that everybody needs a mentor. In fact, not just A mentor but different mentors for different areas. I have personally found mentors in some areas, and in many other areas, I have not. That kind of support for various domains would be helpful for me.

What are your top tips for people thinking about going into freelancing?

I would just say, be patient! I know that when your livelihood is on the line, it can be pretty scary. But to counter that, you need to do two things. One, keep working on increasing your knowledge and being the actual subject matter expert that people look to you to be. Two also continue to work on getting business for yourselves relentlessly. In fact, whether freelancers or people who have jobs, the industry is growing so fast, that if you’re not at the top of the game, you just see the difference in the kind of projects you get.

What would you do differently from Day 1 if you could time travel?

I’d have more confidence. I would just tell myself to have more confidence because when you work in a corporate job for a long time like I did, you tend to relate your identity to your designation. The moment that designation has gone, a lot of contacts, a lot of things go away, and you begin to feel like you’re not good enough. Slowly, that changes, but if I could vary my journey slightly, I would work on my confidence at the very beginning.

You’ve moved from freelancing to having your own setup now.  When did you think that the time has come for me to take that step where I go from being a solopreneur to like a boutique consultancy form of sorts? 

It started with Outsized because there were some excellent projects that I was getting, but because I didn’t have the bandwidth, I couldn’t take them up. Then I thought that my bandwidth would always limit me. That’s where the thought of expansion came from. I have done this all in my life, where I have hired the best people to be on my team. I had trained people to be the very best. Why not hire some of those best people? Having my setup where we all can do some great work together for companies. 

So how was that journey for you? 

No journey is smooth sailing from the very beginning. It takes effort and consistency to make something a success. And if you believe in your vision, you will make it happen. In my case, I feel strongly about what technology can do for businesses. There are so many businesses struggling to get onto this whole digital bandwagon. There’s enough and more work, but there can sometimes be a dearth of good talent. I wanted to change that and created a vision that I knew I could support. We make sure that we get into the guts of the business. We make sure that we bring a turnaround by handholding teams towards execution by being there. That differentiator helped me and my business.

What does it take to go from a freelancer to a founder?

Everything that it takes to go from a perm role to freelancing. Yes, the vision is bigger, so the challenges are bigger too. But if you’ve been able to create a fantastic freelancing career for yourself, I don’t see why you can’t do the same for becoming a fantastic founder.