Sometimes trusting your gut instinct is the only way, and when it came to being self-employed, Maddy Russell knew it was the lifestyle she wanted straight away. We love sharing inspiring stories here on Desk Life Project, and this is a great one for any university students graduating this year. If you know what you want immediately after graduating, why wait to go after it? Here is Maddy’s story…
Hi Maddy! What’s your business called, and what’s it all about?
mrusselldesigns. I am a freelance graphic designer focusing on branding and identity design for small businesses. I also do some web and packaging design. I love to help other businesses to grow and flourish from the work that I do for them.
Tell us about your background before you began the business?
I graduated from university with a degree in graphic design [in 2018]. Working for myself was always something that I wanted to do eventually but after getting turned down for a job I applied for, I decided to take the leap only two months after graduating. It had always been my gut feeling so I just decided to give it a go and see where it could take me.
What has been your proudest moment in business so far?
As my business is still relatively new, I would probably say my proudest moment so far would actually just be having the courage to go for it. I am not a risk-taker by any means so it was quite out of character really. I think I am still shocked at myself for going for it despite it not being the traditional route that people my age take.
I am still shocked at myself for going for it despite it not being the traditional route that people my age take.”
What’s the biggest lesson you have learned since starting your business?
I think my biggest lesson so far has probably been recognising imposter syndrome when it comes up, and being able to see it for what it is and carry on regardless. I have had to change my mindset quite significantly (and still am!) to one that is more optimistic and abundant. Learning not to listen to the voice of imposter syndrome telling you that you ‘can’t’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be doing this, that ‘being self-employed is not what other people your age are doing right now.’
How do you stay organised? Any tips or tools?
I am naturally quite an organised person so this does come quite easily to me. I tend to make a lot of lists and try and prioritise the things that really need doing first. I just try and stay on top of things like emails and accounts when they come in, rather than leaving it until a week later when I can’t remember whether that invoice has been paid or not.
However, being naturally quite organised means that I tend to take on more than I can chew, so an element of staying more organised and productive needs to include knowing when I can and can’t fit things in.
Would you say you have a healthy work life balance? If yes, what do you do to maintain this, and if no, what would you change?
I think I am fairly okay at separating work and life considering how new this all is. However, I struggle to not feel guilty when I’m not working. Even if I’m not actually doing work, I am thinking about it and feeling guilty that I’m not doing something (even if there’s nothing to do!) There is a weird sense that if you are sitting at a desk then that’s okay even if you aren’t necessarily being productive. I definitely need to get better at actually switching off when I’m ‘off work.’
What do you have planned for your business and what are the next steps toward your goal?
Again, being such a new business, I would just love for it to keep going and for me to continue to be able to work with some great people and great businesses to help their brand come to life. I am currently looking into what more I can offer and more brands and businesses I can work with going into 2019. My goal is currently to still be doing this by this time next year.