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I Found Freedom: Sara Kanwal

When you’re itchin’ to make the leap into full-time freelancing, there is nothing more inspiring than hearing stories of people that have done it themselves.

The ‘I Found Freedom’ Series is all about telling those stories. 

Everyone prepares for the leap in different ways, but often we go through the same ups and downs to make it happen. Hopefully, you’ll be as inspired by these stories as I have.

Here’s Sara Kanwal’s story.

I Found Freedom: Sara Kranwal

When did you make the leap exactly and how does it feel?

It was December 1st, 2014. New Year began for me a little ahead of time. I feel in harmony and so aligned with my purpose + potential. The most exciting and rewarding adventure towards abundance has begun in my life.

What kind of freelancing do you do?

I am a freelance marketing expert (social media primarily). I offer services as a VA and Social Media marketer.

How long did you plan before making your leap?

I have been planning to do this all along until it kicked me hard in the rear! Good thing that I received that “well-deserved” long due kick!

I have been freelancing (alongside my day job) since past 7 years. It was only in the last few weeks of my day job that my boss found out that I was pretty seriously involved in establishing business abundance for myself. And you know what follows next usually, the scripted corporate jargon that “we do not want to conflict our interests or yours and so…”.

Okay, so I took it pretty hard. No matter how good it would be just to say that I was relieved of being shackled off my post as a Marketing and Communications Manager with that national giant – truth is that I felt pretty shaken up. It wasn’t a contractual breach to have a side business, but they wanted me to make a decision: stick to full-time or freelance.

I don’t know how long I just sat in dumb {awkward} silence, staring at my superior. I also was told that “Sara, it’s safe to stay in house. You have no idea how bad the economy is out there in the real business world. You are going to damage your career big time. Think carefully.”

This was “The Lightning” moment for me. Eureka!

I thought to myself. This person has no IDEA what they are talking about. I have been a kick-ass marketing manager for all these years to this company because I exactly know how to swim these dynamics. Why and how? Well, because I so happen to be driven by passion, creativity and diversity. I love challenges and I love non-conformity (as a matter of fact, back in school days my first ever research project was on non-conformity! Ha!).

So, I did not blurt out all those inspirational strokes at my (ex) boss. I smiled (finally and thank GOD!) and told her: “Thank you for having this meeting. I am glad we discussed and I appreciate your concern. It is hard for me to say this because I loved working here, but it’s go-time now.”

And she said: “Don’t rush, take your time to think it through.” My response was succinct; I have thought through. Those moments were the most precious to me because I let the empowerment all in (that was knocking at my door all along- while I only had a few windows open for it to shine in). I don’t know if it was magic or a crazy insane emotional moment (may be a hormonal surge) or all of it – but it was precious.

It was as if I suddenly had wings and was soaring high up. There were tummy-butterfly feeling too but all great.

Did you choose a quit date and how did you choose it?

I didn’t! Although, I kept thinking about it all so often (back in those days) because I felt a knot inside me and a voice bugging me that “I have to quit” and I would sing this (foul) lullaby to myself that “Yes, I will quit in the next quarter”.

Until, lady luck caught me right there as if saying “Hey missy! Whatcha’ waiting for, I got a handful of abundance and freedom shiz-whiz & you got guts keepin’ me waitin’ like that!”

So, I asked Dear Lady Luck out on a coffee date.

And it happened. The freedom-freelance-business magic.

So, I didn’t pick a quit date. But I have that calling for far too long and then the universe presented me with a bold opportunity for me to take it & that’s exactly what I did. I took it. I quit the 9-to-5 shackles.

In which ways did you plan/prepare for the transition?

I knew somewhere in my heart that it would be happening soon and I would soon let go of the shackles (despite all the hesitation). So, I think I knew it all along but I got fiercely focused on developing my brands somewhere in the mid of 2013.

I experimented with different business models, tested grounds for various market segments that were within my interest zone (of course) and even ended up creating a company with a team in full swing (during Mid-2014). That was when I launched an online course – I made a 5 figure profit from the first launch but for some reason the niche wasn’t really where I wanted to stay. So, I put the company on hibernation and moved on to newer exciting ventures.

I did a lot of reading, researching and hustling, in addition to my day job.

I was doing a day-job + freelance clients + all the blueprinting of my dream business. It did take a toll on my health and back in October 2014 I had to take a vacation to the hospital! I was skipping on sleep working extra hours on my business, working the mornings on a day job, working evenings on freelance clients. I was practically crazy. My people started calling me “Google” and “Dr. Frankenstein” Yikes.

That’s when I got the signal to slow down just a little bit. I was doing so much and my body & mind signaled me often that it’s time I make a decision to let go.

But I did a lot of hustling, got my gears together, did a fair bit of research and experimented. I feel that experimenting is the key to success because you know what works and what doesn’t; you know what speaks to you and you get experience and knowledge that’s exquisite.

It was more like I went to “school” for 1.5 year before getting off the 9-to-5 drill.

Did you have a savings or buffer fund?

Yes, but not as much as I now wish I had! I made a lot of investments after I quit the day-job; hence the monetary-slimness.

But I kept a savings of about $20K.

What was the hardest part of making the leap?

Well, mostly because I didn’t truly hate my job and I had a nice rapport with the company owners. I found it hard to spit “No” right on their face. I tried 4 times before it actually happened. I would send them an email saying something like “I am looking for resigning from my post due to ‘blah blah’ reasons”. They would reject and I would respect that.

For some reason, I thought it would be rude of me to just resign but when they put me in a position to make a “choice” – I knew that it would be rude of me to shackle my potential and gifts for a moment longer.

I also had a fear of unknown. I always had a 6-figure sum in my account and the on-going company projects would be pretty comfortable and predictable in terms of plan and far-reaching execution + there was a whole team on board. And it was a safe comfy way of doing what I was passionate about. The day-job was more like a fall-back and safe take-along thing for me.

Once I had to let it go. It was all just me.

There is always this uncertainty of landing new clients because in business that’s what one needs and new businesses have to hustle initially. So, yes I am not afraid to admit that it’s an ocean. You have to keep your sails high and ride the tide. It’s uncertain but exciting and when you sail consistently for a while; it gets rewarding more than anything.

What’s the best part of finally freelancing full-time?

I have absolute control over my business and my dreams! I am not driving myself crazy and not split in half between 9-to-5 drill and where my heart lies. Back in the day, I literally had “zero” time for family. I would find time chunks in my schedule to make sure I meet everyone at least once a week (pretty bad…I know). That was the ugly truth of my life back then.

Now, I have all the time in the world. I “accept” clients and I make the rules. I decide which clients to let in and which to let go. 95% of my clientele is pure awesomeness. So, I am no longer enslaved to hours.

What is your advice for others wanting to find freedom through freelancing?

You have to know this in your heart.

If you really want it, you know it deep down. And every day in your day job; you would feel a weird, subtle restlessness as if you are missing out on something. It’s a feeling that life is passing by and you HAVE & WANT to do so much more. In that instant, please listen to your heart.

If you want to play it safe, start saving before you go. But don’t take too long (like I did!).

Read a lot, do a lot of research – in short: Do your homework before taking the plunge. Make sure you are up for it.

I often hear people saying: “A lot of theory, get me some action” or “Why all the reading and research – just get practice going”.

My answer always is: Try constructing a building without a blueprint and see if it stands.

So, get working on “your” blueprint.

How did you celebrate?

I went on a relaxing drive with the love of my life! Spent the whole week with family, just lazing out, playing with my babies (beautiful fur divas: Smokey, Mini, Tickles) and doing tons of reading.

Oh and yes, a lot of sleeping.

Thanks Sara!

I am Sara (I tag myself as a 3C : Creative-Candid-Crazy!). Proud mama to 3 feline beauties. I love books, marketing, and everything coffee.

Academic tags would include, Pre-Doc in Marketing-Consumer Psychology (Applied Science) and Certification in Graphic Design + several self-mastered skills. I offer kickass virtual assistance, project management and social media marketing services at www.sarakanwal.com/virtualdiva.

I also blog on www.thesmartcoffeeblog.com – I have always been a coffee fanatic and I believe that it has to do a lot with some serious entrepreneurial juju!

 

 

Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Great article!

    The best part;

    “Sara, it’s safe to stay in house. You have no idea how bad the economy is out there in the real business world. You are going to damage your career big time. Think carefully.”

    This would have made me walk out immediately.

  • I love reading stories about successful freelancers! I think breaking out is probably the hardest step to prepare for!

  • Hey there Anna, yes! Breaking out is tricky and but once that happens, its an exciting adventure ahead, xoxo.

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