Published: 19th March 2020
Surabhi Verma's latest book is about how 'She Quit Her Job' and became her own 'bawse'!
Surabhi Verma, author of And She Quit Her Job, reveals to Aathira Ayyappan how freelancing can be a sought-after career option if it is pursued right
To follow your true passion. To travel and 'find thyself'. To just break the monotony for the sake of it. These are some of the reasons people, especially millennials, cite to quit their boring 9-5 job. More often than not, such decisions are viewed as spontaneous and dangerously so, especially by the baby boomer generation. But what if there was indeed a roadmap that could guide youngsters and equip them with the ABCs of quitting a regular job while helping them weigh the pros and cons of the 'big independent step'?
This is exactly what Surabhi Verma, an entrepreneur who is an expert in personal branding and content strategy, decided to do. This debut author jumped off the corporate bandwagon by quitting her high-profile job at the age of 25 when she decided to write her debut book And She Quit Her Job. Published in 2018, the book serves as a handbook for people who want to go ahead and be freelancers and work on their own terms (read: be their own bosses!). Under her company, The Inception Media, that she set up in 2019, Surabhi has worked with world-renowned clients who are billionaires, CEOs, life coaches, athletes and celebrities. Her end-goal is to create content in any form that sparks a positive change. To remain stress-free, the (___-year-old) takes inspiration from authors-cum-life coaches like Gary Vaynerchuk, Marie Forleo and Elizabeth Gilbert as she feels that "their work is empowering and it cancels any form of negativity!" Excerpts from an enriching interview:
1. What inspired you to quit your corporate job? Was it a well-thought-out decision or a spontaneous one?
Quitting was never the first option for me. Back in 2016, when I was working as a content head for a media company, I had never thought that I would have to call it quits so soon. At first, I contemplated a lot. I went back and forth on my thoughts about quitting. But there had always been a deep desire in me to do something out of the box. Talking about my career, I have experimented much in the last decade. Quitting the last job was also a part of this experimentation. Though I had built a strong client base by doing freelance work, the decision to never return to another corporate job took real determination. The day I quit, I was sure that I would do something much better with my talent and skills. And here I am, using my PR skills and networking to negotiate with clients at my own pace, on my own terms! I have never been happier.
2. Why do you think freelancing can be a good career path?
Any career can become your dream career if you are more than 110 per cent certain about loving what you do. Talking about freelancing, whether you are a writer, a photographer or any sort of expert in your area of work, you simply get to have more freedom. When you chose to work as a freelancer, you are not bound to sit inside a cubicle all day long. You can work at your own pace and a workplace of your choice. You can travel and work, you can be at home and work, you can work from anywhere in the world. Moreover, freelance can only boost our creativity which many of us sideline as we chose to run the rat race by dedicating ourselves to our bosses and companies. But there are ways that one needs to learn as a freelancer, as many tend to fall into the pit of boredom and homesickness quite easily. If you are someone who craves more freedom in terms of work choices and lifestyle, freelance is the best thing that you can do to yourself.
3. How exactly can you build a sustainable career as a freelancer? What works and what does not work in most cases?
If you are a lazy person who loves to sleep all day and do no work, forget about generating money from freelancing. Freelancing is all about doing the work you love the most. That is why, in the first place, people chose to freelance as they get to do something more creative and fulfilling than what they have been doing already. Building a sustainable career as a freelancer will not happen overnight or not even in a month or a year. It takes time. It all starts with building a good portfolio of the work you have done in the past while staying inside a full-time job. It then comes down to who you are pitching your work to. You may not begin to generate good income at the very beginning but then as you continue to grow as a freelancer, you even get to have more freedom on the money you are bringing to your plate. Just like any full-time job, freelancing demands hard work and passion. The only thing that doesn't work in the world of a freelancer is bad decision-making and a habit of not meeting deadlines.
4. Do you think Indians, who are programmed to think that a high-paying 9 to 5 job is the dream, will easily take to your idea?
We Indians are programmed to choose the ordinary life. Through my book, I have only tried to make one point: If you are a highly creative person and you crave more professional freedom, you must go ahead and give it a try. While some may not have the strength to do so or may have a few financial burdens, which may prevent them from making a career as a freelancer, it is about figuring out your interests at the end of the day. Even if you change a hundred different jobs or you are getting a remarkable salary, you may never be satisfied if your deep-rooted interests are different from your job. It is better to try something that fuels your innate passions than to spend the rest of your life working in regret.
5. What inhibits most youngsters from following the unconventional path these days - family, societal/peer pressure or a combination of the factors?
I think it is first the family that has something to do directly with a person's choices and then, societal pressure. Most Indian parents have a different mindset about choosing the right career for their kids. They still look out for factors like a conventional education, a conventional job and a very conventional life. What parents decide for their kids at a very young age has a direct correlation with their later life choices, thus leaving them confused in most of the situations. Young individuals must need to find their strengths and work on their skill sets. Going after the money is the very last thing they should be doing. Money eventually follows when your heart and soul is in your work.
6. What advice do you have for struggling millennials and wannabe entrepreneurs? Is there a mantra you live by?
Follow your instincts, work hard for your dreams, figure out your skill sets and polish them till the day you start shining as a star in your niche. One cannot be an entrepreneur if one cannot impact lives. Keeping an entrepreneurial spirit is fine but see how many lives you are able to touch with your work. Erase the very limiting beliefs of what you know about what others are doing. Try everything possible and see where it takes you. What is life without a little adventure in it?