Let’s begin with how you got started. How old were you, where were you and what was your situation financially?
I have been self-employed for 5 years now. I started when I was 23 years young, right after I quit my first job as Project Lead with UNICEF India because I realized I am restricting myself by settling into a 9-5 lifestyle and I did not like the idea of limiting my potential.
Wow! So what was the catalyst that made you take the plunge into this industry? What was the situation that encouraged you to give this a real shot?
I hold a Master’s degree in Communications Media with a specialization in Documentary Film Making. I was always interested in the creative art of storytelling. It was an AHA moment, one evening I was talking to a group of my friends over call and realized how unsatisfied I was feeling with my current career state. On paper, I had a dream job that anyone would have leapt to grab but I always had a fire in my belly to do much more. I have always been encouraged by my parents who are entrepreneurs themselves to hustle and build something that I can call my own.
Tell us the story of your first legit customer (that is a stranger, someone you don’t know). How did you find them, and what do you attribute as the reason why they chose to work with you?
As part of my Master’s film making program, I had made a documentary about a male classical dancer who cross-dresses as a woman to perform his art. In the film, we questioned the idea of existing gender norms of society. The film was being screened in a film festival and we were approached by the founder of a non-profit organization called MAVA (Men Against Violence and Abuse). He offered to sign me along with my peers for a one year contract to document their journey as an organization because he was touched by the film we made.
Tejasvi! That is amazing! So how about the first 5 steps you took to make this dream career your reality?
- Sit and chart out a clear plan of what is it that you really want to offer, what is your passion and why do you want to start your own brand?
- Note down all your skills and narrow down on your niche
- Once you have an understanding of the skills you can offer, think about ways to monetize them
- Do not forget to put yourself out there. The more you talk about yourself the more people you will reach
- Cliche I know, but truly believe in yourself, your brand and what you are doing. Your aim to start a brand should be around something you are truly passionate about and the rest of the things will fall in place with much more ease.
- BONUS TIP: Do not forget the power of referrals. Most of my clients after the first one were because a satisfied client gave me access to more of his/her contacts and thus more work.
Now that we have the 5 steps, is there anything you would say was a hurdle to you getting started that someone in your field may want to avoid?
- Avoid focusing only on the clients/projects you have in hand. As a service-based entrepreneur, I had to simultaneously focus on getting more potential projects and leads.
- Do not undersell in the hopes of selling. I have realized through experience that the clients that expect to negotiate your prices aren’t the right fit for you in the first place and may be more demanding throughout the process.
- Doubting your own ability. Once you have researched your market/industry you will know where you stand in comparison. As an entrepreneur, you are constantly selling yourself and your personality along with your brand. Your self-doubt will be projected to the clients as well.
- We are functioning in the virtual world so go big and go wide. Do not limit yourself geographically and reach out to audiences and potential clients from all across the globe.
- Leverage the use of social media. No matter what your service or product is, there is a social media platform that you can use to promote yourself. Social media can also focus on indirect sales and establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Find the platform that fits your brand message instead of diluting your energy across multiple platforms.
Wow, #2 and #5 definitely hit home. You are very experienced Tejasvi! What sets you apart from others?
I think I have the right balance of creativity and practical approach towards my work. I have a good sense of understanding what the client wants, their purpose and need, thus I can offer a solution that fits for them. I also believe in constantly evolving and updating my skills so I can keep offering refined services to my long term clients. I am young but also have a good background of experience so I make sure to project that in all my work and communication by keeping it young, personal yet professional.
For future customers, how can we connect with you?
I am currently in the process of revamping my website. For now, you can just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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