Just over a year ago I hiked the Camino de Santiago, and I wrote about what you should know plus what I learned doing it. I covered the walking, the recovery, and the friendships along the way – but what I didn’t talk about was what I truly learned and how the trip inspired me.
I spent the week with a group of incredibly inspiring people who were all living their own dreams and doing their own thing, and smashing it hard – and it made me think, why not me?
I’ve loved working at Reebok and I will continue to live their #BeMoreHuman message, but I’ve always craved working on my own hustle, to my own schedule, and owning something I can work on that’s holistic to my life and my personal drivers, which are to help others and solve problems.
So, I set my goal, made my plans, got my head down and kept quiet about what I was doing – apart from to a small circle of people who I trusted and had also been where I was going – and now I’m proud to say I’m a Level 3 Personal Trainer. I’ve been working my socks off outside of work hours coaching an awesome bunch of people, and as of today I am officially full-time self-employed!
I am lucky enough to have people around me who I consider to be my mentors, whether they know it or not, and I’ve received some incredible advice over the past year. Self-employed people seem to be a big-hearted bunch – although they’re working on their own business for themselves, like me, they’re usually doing it to help others.
Read on to find out the best advice I’ve received over the past 12 months, which is specific to the fitness industry – but really this could be applied to any industry you’re looking to go self-employed in.
People like to think freelancers are a cheap option or that we want to work in exchange for exposure – but this is something that really needs tackling in the freelance world, so stand your ground with what you’re worth. If an individual or company won’t pay what you’re asking, then they’re blind to your value.
This is especially tough in the Personal Training world, with some PTs racing to the bottom in terms of price, but along with that, value. Show your worth to your clients with your knowledge, your coaching skills, and how much your understand them as individuals – they’ll soon realise how valuable you are and they’ll stick with you for good.
My message is that women can be strong and love their bodies at any size – so imagine if I suddenly brought out a “how to get abs” ebook or started making comments on Instagram about low calorie dieting. You’d get confused, right?
Set what your message is with your business and stick to it through every communication you make. Every tweet, Facebook post, even every comment you make on a friend’s Instagram – think “does this fit my message?” If your message is authentic and true to yourself then this shouldn’t be difficult, but it can be easy to get swept up in what’s popular or trending at the time in order to get some exposure.
If you’re fully booked straight away then that’s awesome, but be prepared for the likelihood of this not happening. Until you find your feet you may need a buffer of savings to pay yourself, and having this means it’s less likely you’ll panic when things don’t start happening straight away and immediately give it up to go back to corporate life!
Everyone says that the very worst that can happen is that if it doesn’t work out and you run out of money, you’ll have to go back to full-time employment – but really, I think the worst that could actually happen is that you don’t give it a go at all. Just think about whether you’d rather give it a go and fail, or never give it a go at all and never know how amazing you’d be at running your own business.
This one came as I was telling our gym owner just how tired and grotty feeling I was constantly as I was working two jobs, and he just very matter-of-factly said “it’s not supposed to be easy”.
Honestly though, it’s been a very tough few months sometimes working 14-hour days and taking annual leave just to hit freelance deadlines, but I wouldn’t change it for the world and although I couldn’t do it forever, it’s been more sustainable than I first thought it would be. I wouldn’t recommend anyone just do this for no reason but because I knew it was a means to an end it was actually enjoyable, especially as I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
This is going back to my first thought along the Camino – whenever I had a moment of doubt, I thought about all the other amazing self employed people I knew who are absolutely killing it and thought, why not me? They’re human who have the same 24 hours a day as me, so why couldn’t I do it, too?
And now, I’m so happy to say I am doing it (and you could too, if that’s what you want!). The past couple of months juggling different pieces of work with a full time job has been difficult but now I’m almost fully-booked as a Personal Trainer in Heald Green, Manchester, I have a few freelance marketing jams going on, and although I’m super busy I’m so happy as I’m finally working on what I want to do, for me.
If that changes then I know there are other avenues in life, but for now I’m super excited to get to work and find out what the future holds for me!
Welcome to That Squat Bot! I'm Sarah, a Personal Trainer based in Manchester, UK.
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