‘Going freelance’ might sound exciting, but running your own small business comes with a lot of learning curves. We spoke to Nella Pastore, who has one golden rule that keeps her on track…
“Making yourself available 24/7 – don’t do it,” Nella warns, having burned herself when she first started out as a freelancer three years ago. “However much you need that income, or new client in your chair, you are still only human. Just because social media is available 24 hours a day, you are not.”
Cultivating a healthy balance between work and personal life took Nella years to learn – to stop chasing the idea of more clients, more money, more more more. “I can safely say I wish someone had told me sooner and enforced stronger business acumen!”
Nella was amazed to discover just how much time she puts into running the business side of her work. “That was the biggest learning curve, that you’ll wear many different hats. I actually only spend about 50 per cent of my time working behind the chair, and 50 per cent devoting time to actually the running the business side of things.”
It’s important to learn to wear your sales hat early on, she advises, with the determination to grow your column and score new clients. “As this progressed, you just keep changing which hat you wear – whether it be accounting and chasing payments, sorting expenses, or marketing, retail, stock invoices…. But with experience this becomes so much more natural and you develop a good routine.”
Nella wanted to make sure that she was in the best possible position before making the leap into the unknown of freelance life. “I enrolled myself into the Wella Master Colour Expert programme, and it really was the best thing I have ever done,” she insists. “I conquered any fear or challenges I had as a colourist through that course, and becoming an expert of colour makes you more attractive to clients. It means you are up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques, and Wella even invite you back twice a year to tell you all about new products before anyone else knows about them!”
Nella is also a proud member of the Wella Passionista programme, a growing and engaged network of hair artists which gives her that sense of community which is often missing as a freelancer. “The networking from that alone is fantastic,” she says. “It’s like being part of a salon team, where you bounce off others and get continuous inspiration!”
Nella’s Top Tips
TAKE THE LEAP. It sounds scary, but challenge your fear. Don’t let it beat you. I was so nervous when I took the leap, but it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my career; it has given me so much more freedom and opened up so many networking opportunities.
ASK FOR HELP. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it really is essential sometimes. Friends and family are always happy to give support, even if it’s something as small as sharing your business page, or shouting about your new business – a little goes a long way. There are so many tools and help available now, be sure to use them.
ENJOY THE RIDE. I’m lucky in that I enjoy my job, but I too have days that aren’t always perfect. It’s hard not to beat yourself up if your business isn’t running as smoothly as others seem to be, but it’s all part of the journey. Embrace the ups and downs, and enjoy the ride!