From Global Marketing Manager to International Freelancer
During my time as a marketing manager at various international companies I learnt a lot about marketing and internal politics. I also gradually realised: While globally operating corporates certainly form a safe environment for those who like being part of something big (most of the time too big to fail even) and are a great place to take your first professional steps, they can be quite one-dimensional.
So, what if you like discovering new horizons, taking chances and making decisions that will influence your everyday life?
Dare to jump into the water
Sooner or later you will need to decide whether you want to follow someone else’s course or move in open water, picking the route and your fellow travellers yourself.
Over time I got tired of being one of 150,000 who do not pursue the same goal. Who do not pursue any goal I care about at all. When the office I worked at was about to be closed and before I was offered another job elsewhere in the company, I somehow knew it was now or never. In December 2012, I left behind the path I knew so well.
No more bullshit bingo. No more death by PowerPoint. No more travelling in the middle of the night because someone tells you so. Instead, I started working as a freelancer and sparring partner to other decision makers in the field of marketing. I decided to offer them what I often missed when I was on the other side: responsible marketing solutions consisting of strategies that can be realised easily and marketing tactics that strategically make sense.
The name of the venture is FREIWASSER Marketing. Freiwasser literally means open water, but it is rather to be seen as a metaphor: Someone who is moving around in open water will struggle with the current, even may be confronted with sea monsters or an iceberg, now and then. Only the ones who are flexible and inventive will reach their destination. Freiwasser is a state of mind and a goal at the same time.
Stay on the bright side of life
The worst bits about being self-employed in the beginning were the worries – small and big. When I applied for start-up support, I worried if I didn’t get it, I would already „waste“ lots of my savings within the very first months. When I wrote the business plan, I worried if it would be good enough and whether my assumptions would turn out to be realistic.
Today I sigh aloud at the thought of taxes (the local business tax in Frankfurt is ridiculously high, but hey – at least I contribute to building nice kindergartens for my friends’ children and new bike lanes for myself). I wonder what the chamber of commerce that I am forced to be a member of does for solopreneurs. I hope, one day the statutory health insurance will stop punishing small businesses that support an equal society.
But, guess what: The good bits by far outweigh the worries. I am passionate about every project I work at. I am privileged to spend my days with talented and like-minded people. I love the freedom to decide. The last five years have been a wonderful adventure.
I couldn’t have done any of it without having spent the previous years on the corporate side though. Everyone I met along the way helped me immensely to develop my soft and hard skills. (And remember that very early morning in Barcelona you told me about Florence and the Machine? Or the freezing night in which we were singing at a taxi stand in London?)
Funny enough, you learn from people you like as well as those who make you suffer. That is why I would like to say: Thank you. (You know what category you belong to, don’t you?)
On one of my business trips I found a game-changing postcard while waiting for the plane to take off. It said “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” So when asked for advice (some confuse age with wisdom and why not let them once in a while), I say: Never underestimate the power of the written word. And keep smiling.