“I spent the week after I found out I was expecting my first child working till 1 a.m. every day on a pitch that went nowhere.”
From Design to Start-up
Enelia Faithful felt underpaid and unappreciated, but it wasn't until work stopped her enjoying a precious life event that she realised something had to change. Now, she's created a career where she calls the shots, knows her own value, and has the balance she craved. Here's how she did it.
What work were you doing previously?
I was working as a designer at a digital advertising agency.
What are you doing now?
Running my own branding and digital strategy studio, Abacus Finch.
Why did you change?
I'd been freelancing since I started my career. I was tired of the long hours, low pay, and my work being unappreciated.
When was the moment you decided to make the change?
I spent the week after I found out I was expecting my first child working till 1 a.m. every day on a pitch that went nowhere.
That was when I decided that something had to change.
Are you happy with the change?
I will never regret being able to spend more time with my child, husband, and dog.
What do you miss and what don't you miss?
I miss having other people to wrangle the clients and manage the projects.
I don't miss the inherent BS that comes with the advertising territory.
How did you go about making the shift?
I had several projects lined up that would cover my expenses for several months.
I quit when I was seven months pregnant in order to be able to work on those projects and get into the groove of my business before giving birth. I emailed everyone on my contact list letting them know I was available to work on projects, and the work hasn't stopped coming in in the last two years.
What didn't go well? What 'wrong turns' did you take?
I miscalculated just how much effort caring for a baby and trying to run your own business takes.
I also failed to land a particular project because I did not present my skills with confidence. That one still stings since I came highly recommended to them by one of my current clients.
How did you handle your finances to make your change possible?
Our family's spending habits didn't really change since we were already very frugal. However, we did pay off our car with some of our savings to eliminate that monthly payment.
What was the most difficult thing about changing?
The loneliness of being a mother working from home.
Mothers who stay at home with their children usually have the opportunity to go out and meet others. I used the time that I would have spent connecting with other people working instead.
What help did you get?
I've had interns to help with small tasks and we have a person come to help clean the house every now and then.
What have you learnt in the process?
I had to learn to set myself apart from the competition by showing my true value.
Sometimes this might turn off certain clients because they don’t want to pay my prices, but that's okay. If they don’t think I'm worth it after seeing how I've differentiated myself, and what I can do, then they aren't the clients I want to work with.
What do you wish you'd done differently?
I wish I were better at selling myself and my services.
I'm a work in progress, and trying to get better at it every day.
What would you advise others to do in the same situation?
I would say to take every rejection as a learning opportunity.
Assess the situation, determine what went wrong, and fix it for next time.
What resources would you recommend to others?
I recommend the book ReWork: Change The Way You Work Forever (by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried, founders of 37signals) to all my friends who run their own businesses.
It really helped me change my views on the typical 9–5 schedule.
To find out more about Enelia's business, visit www.abacusfinch.com
What lessons could you take from Enelia's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.