(AD Disclaimer: This blog post was written in paid partnership with Emma Cossey)
Emma Cossey is a coach for freelancers and founder of The Freelance Lifestyle – during this Berkshire Mumpreneur interview we find out more about Emma, her business and how she manages to juggle work and family life!
Tell me briefly about your business?
I’m a coach for freelancers, and I run The Freelance Lifestyle. It’s a blog, podcast, Facebook group, coaching service and membership community to support UK freelancers to get started or get unstuck. It’s designed to be warm, welcoming, fun and non-judgemental (with lots of hacks, apps, tools and templates to make freelance life easier)!
I also still do some freelancing, including social media, content creation, training and talks, so I keep on top of the latest in the freelance world.
Tell me briefly about yourself and your family?
I live in Bracknell with my husband Pete, and our 7 year old son Oscar. Oscar and I both have ADHD, which means a lot of our lives (and my business!) are designed to be as neurodivergent-friendly as possible. I grew up in Hurst, my family own Chocolates for Chocoholics there, and I moved to Bracknell a decade ago. I love living in Berkshire, there are so many things to do, lots of green places to go and The Lexicon is the cherry on the cake.
When did you set up your business and why?
I started it back in 2011 when I realised that the information out there to get started as a freelancer was really overwhelming and intimidating. I had fallen into freelancing in 2009 and was so lucky to have my first client walk me through the steps of setting up, but I know that’s not a luxury everyone has, so I wanted to make it more accessible. I’m really passionate about the options freelancing gives us, from making work more accessible for those with chronic health conditions, mental health conditions or neurodivergent conditions that make the traditional workforce difficult to access, to parents and carers who need more flexibility. I also think that the world is a lot more open to freelancing and remote working now, due to the pandemic forcing companies to adapt to it.
What do you see as the benefits of being self-employed?
Oh so many! For me, it allows me to work in a way that works for my family AND my brain. I’m so grateful every day that I get to work with people who are so passionate about what they do. Being able to be flexible with my work has been a really important factor since becoming a mum (especially during those lockdown years!) And the earning potential can actually be better as a freelancer, than if you have one job role. In fact, I believe now that freelancing can actually be more secure. because you’re spreading the risk across several clients, rather than putting all your eggs in one basket.
Oh, and working from home. I really, really love working from the soffice (sofa office). Plus the freelance community is so lovely, supportive and collaborative. Freelancers generally support each other, not compete against each other.
What are your top tips to other parents considering setting up their own business?
Plan, save and get support! The sensible part of me always recommends that new business owners get a plan together (it doesn’t have to be a long one, mine is about a page long), save three months of expenses where possible, and get the support of a community of like-minded people, whether that’s through a Facebook group, coaching or networking.
And don’t be hard on yourself if a week doesn’t go to plan. I know how frustrating it can be when you have big business plans for the week, and then your kid(s) is off sick. Or you’re tired after a sleepless night and you can’t seem to focus. Please be kind to yourself, and adjust your tasks. A lot of the suggestions I make for freelancers are designed to be short and quick (partly because, before my own ADHD diagnosis last year, I had constant exhaustion and overwhelm and needed tiny, manageable tasks.)
What’s next for your business?
My big focuses this year is continuing with my coaching, and working with more universities and colleges to educate young people on the benefits of freelancing. I’m also working on some more courses for freelancers, and *whisper* maybe even writing a book!
How do you manage to run your business and look after your family?
The honest truth is, the juggling changes weekly, depending on workload, client projects, if anyone is off sick and my own energy levels. I try to carve out 20 minutes in the morning as me time, even if it’s just sitting in the office going through some emails and listening to a podcast. After school, I try not to do too much work, but if I do, I tend to let my son know how long I’m planning on doing it so it doesn’t eat up the afternoon. My phone use is an ongoing challenge though! I have started taking August off over the last few years though which has really helped (I’ll often do a flash sale in July to allow me to have the funds to do it!)
One thing I realised a few years into being a mum, is that although I love my son deeply, being a mum doesn’t fulfil me completely and build my self-esteem. My work does. And in order to be the good, happy mum I want to be for him, I need to make sure I keep that work cup topped up too.
Finally, what are your top three things to do as a family in Berkshire?
Oh, we’re so spoilt for choice around here aren’t we? I live close to South Hill Park, and I have so many great memories there, from seeing shows at the theatre, going to the food festival in the summer, or attending the beautiful traditional cinema with my son when he was a baby.
And finally, I love The Look Out for outdoor play and the science adventures inside. I love finding new gems too, in fact I usually find out about new places through the Berkshire Mummies newsletter or Instagram!
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