Amanda Brown is a business consultant and founder of Homepreneur. She started her career in the City as an investment manager and, since having her children, has worked from her home office for the past 20years. Her aim is to provide advice and support to other Homepreneurs who face specific challenges when leaving the corporate world to set up their own home-based businesses.
Why be self-employed?
As a business consultant my aim is to help businesses with effective online communications. Alongside this I run the Homepreneur Community which helps people who work from home overcome the challenges of running a home-based business. I have a new podcast where other homepreneurs tell their story of leaving corporate life and setting up at home. This weekly show also provides advice on planning, productivity and motivation – having the right mindset for what can be quite an isolated career choice.
How did you become self-employed?
After a career in the City as an investment manager, I became self-employed 20 years ago when my children were in primary school. As a single parent, it allowed me the flexibility to manage my time and my workload to fit in with the demands of family life.
What one piece of advice do you wish you knew when you first started out?
Write an action plan and monitor your productivity by managing your tasks to fit in with the time you spend working.
If I were starting up on my own now, I would definitely seek out the help of a mentor or accountability partner. Being freelance can be isolating particularly if you are working from home rather than going into other companies’ offices. There’s no ‘water cooler’ chat to break up the working day!
Learning from people who have trodden the path before you, takes away a great deal of uncertainty and gives you confidence. Having someone to be accountable to also means that you are less likely to miss those all-important deadlines.
What is a normal day for you?
I start at about 8.15 and tackle the most important tasks first thing when my brain is rested. I work to a time schedule where all my ‘to-dos’ are allocated a specific period of time. It’s easy to underestimate just how long things take and also, I like to have a contingency for when things don’t quite go to plan.
I would advise people who are freelance to batch similar tasks together as this helps you get ‘into flow’. So, my writing is done for a stretch on a couple of days and recording for my course is also blocked out for long periods in the week.
I take a short break at lunchtime and finish up the day in time to pursue my hobbies.
Recommendation for a fellow freelancers?
Use both online and offline opportunities for building your network.
I run a Facebook group, Homepreneur Community, where we share advice, news, useful blogposts and articles. I also run a monthly co-working day called Hoffice –combining home and office.
I would recommend visiting local networking groups where you can find like-minded freelancers and the potential for developing long-standing relationships that can lead to new business.
How does being self-employed impact on your life outside of work?
As my work is predominantly online, I have to balance sitting in front of a computer all day in my comfortable home office with getting out and being sociable. I sing in three choirs, am a member of a writing group and of Soroptimist International, a women’s volunteering group.
What books or blogs have helped you on your way as a freelancer?
There are so many that the list is endless. I use an app called Blinkist which provides non-fiction book summaries. If I like the look of the book I buy a copy. Some of my favourites is ‘Known’ by Mark Schaefer, ‘Will it Fly’ by Pat Flynn and‘The 7-day Start Up’ by Dan Norris.
I enjoy technical blog posts on subjects I’m not skilled in; for example, www.jonloomer.com for advanced Facebook advertising, www.neilpatel.com for website traffic strategies and www.moz.com’s Whiteboard Friday blog.
How do you celebrate your wins?
Are you working on any side projects? If so what are these and how do you balance your time?
My big projects this year are the upcoming Homepreneur show, a weekly podcast. In October, there is the launch of the Homepreneur Productivity Course, an online course to help self-employed people and freelancers save 10 hours a week. Finally, at the end of the year there is the publication of the Homepreneur book.
At the moment work is full on but there is always time to sing!