This week’s Work-At-Home Success story comes from Anna Lundberg.
A few years ago, Anna Lundberg left the security of a full-time job to work independently, pursue her passions, and make sure that she didn’t have any regrets when she’s sitting in that rocking chair in the retirement home in years to come. Today, she’s designing a life that allows her to live according to her most important values: freedom, personal growth and development, and authenticity. She’s mentoring start-ups on how to build their brands and market their message to customers, training new managers to become the leaders of the future, and coaching individuals on their personal transitions towards their most fulfilling lives.
1) How did you get started working from home?
It’s been a gradual evolution for me since the start. I first decided to take a sabbatical to travel alone across South America for three months, and only then did I take the next step to actually quit my job. After going to a few interviews for other full-time jobs, I eventually committed to establishing my independent consultancy; and over the last year, I’ve been adding to my “portfolio career” with two new businesses.
My first business was my digital marketing consultancy, Crocus Communications, working with big consumer goods companies, and increasingly small businesses and startups. Last year I established Wolf Leaders Academy with a former colleague, providing training and coaching for a new generation of managers in the world of business. I’ve also now set up my personal coaching practice, One Step Outside, which focuses on helping people take ownership of their own careers and transition into becoming an entrepreneur, changing career direction, or following their passion whatever that may be.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
The digital marketing consulting was a natural next step, as this was what I had been doing in my full-time job; and digital, of course, remains a very hot topic in business. I remain passionate about teaching people how to engage consumers and build successful brands in the new digital world without becoming distracted, or intimidated, by the technology behind it.
Capability building and training more generally is an area that I enjoy, and this has led to my leading workshops and giving talks as well as taking on a mentoring role with young entrepreneurs. The leadership academy also evolved out of this interest in supporting young managers entering the workforce in being the best that they can be, along with a desire to give them access to all the coaching and training that I wish that I had had in the early days of my own career.
The personal life coaching is the newest piece of the puzzle for me, but funnily enough I’ve realised it’s something I’d already been doing for many years with friends and colleagues. I had also been exploring questions around life purpose and career transitions on my personal blog so it was a natural progression for this interest to be formalised through my certification as a professional coach.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
Initially, my freelance marketing work was actually more like contracting. Most of my clients were quite traditional and wanted me physically in the office, an integral part of the team. This was a great way for me to get experience with different clients and in different industries while bringing in a substantial income. In order to be able to work from home, however, I’ve had to transition away from these types of big contracts towards working with smaller companies, taking on one-off projects, running training workshops, and so on.
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
My very first client for my consulting business was a new luxury startup, created by two former colleagues from Procter & Gamble. I was just setting up my services and as I was mentioning these to one of my colleagues, we realised that there happened to be a perfect match with what they were looking for in terms of digital marketing support.
5) How do you market your business?
I’ve experimented recently with some ads on LinkedIn and Facebook for specific workshops or toolkits; however, I still believe word of mouth is the biggest driver. I create a lot of content – blog posts, worksheets, email courses – and it’s these that get me the reach to make people aware of my expertise and how I can help them. At the heart of all this is my website: it’s important to have a professional platform towards which I can direct people, whether I’ve met them in person or they’ve come across me in some online forum. This is actually good news, as it means that I don’t have to spend lots of money on paid advertising – but it does make the whole thing much more uncertain, as I’m never sure when or where the next client will appear.
6) What does your usual day look like?
Well, on the one hand, there’s no such thing as a “usual day” for me. This past year, I’ve been almost constantly on the move, staying in one place for a maximum of one month and often much less. I’ve also been very reluctant to submit to a strict routine, as that’s part of what I was escaping from in the corporate world. That being said, there are certain common elements to each day: I check my emails and try to clear my inbox; I spend a few hours working on my projects in the morning and again in the afternoon; at some point, I’ll go for a run or do some yoga, and I’ll also make sure that I take proper breaks during which I cook healthy meals and snacks. Some days, work will fill most of my waking hours while other days I may be spending more time with friends and family or being a tourist if I’m in a new location. I know people who choose to follow the strict Monday to Friday, “9 to 5”, routine even when they’re working from home but for me one of the benefits of working independently is that I can be much more flexible, I can go where my energy is, and I can choose to work more or less on any given day.
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I’ve actually written a post about the 10 things I’ve learned since starting my own business. There was so much fear when I first started, so much uncertainty; and yet over time I’ve grown to be greatly reassured. In particular: It doesn’t have to be perfect from day one! You’ll never have all the answers, so don’t try to get it 100% right in one leap; it’s a process of shaping your business, and your life, one step at a time.
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
I would think about what it is in working from home that really appeals to you, as well as what might be challenging for you personally. You can feel very isolated if you’re home alone all day: are you comfortable with that? Would it be better for you to find a co-working space where you can have more social interaction? In my case, I was a little worried about how I would manage to stay focused without the structure of office hours and managers to check up on me – in fact, I’ve had the opposite problem! I’m very self-motivated and engaged in the work I’m doing, so what I’m actually struggling with is taking breaks, allowing myself some proper time off, and pausing to celebrate my achievements along the way.
When you have a family, of course, there are additional considerations: If you want to work from home to have more time with the children, how will you make sure that you can both manage your business and have that quality time with the kids? How will you divide chores between you and your partner? What boundaries will you set? Deciding on all this upfront will help to prevent any uncertainties or frustrations further down the line.
Website URL: Anna S. E. Lundberg
Anna’s Twitter Handle: @annaselundberg
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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