Bay Tree VA

Putting Freelancers Centre Stage 

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As sponsor of the Freelancer of the Year award in the West Suffolk Business Awards this year it seems timely to convey my thoughts about the role of a freelancer and why I am so enthusiastic about the sector.  

Let’s start with the definition of ‘freelancer’ which is often used to describe someone who is self-employed with more than one client. They may work on projects or short-term contracts and generally sell their services by the hour or for a fixed fee. 

The first and most obvious point is, of course, my close association with the freelance community. Our Bay Tree VAs are all freelancers in their own right and, whilst Bay Tree provides individual client portfolios that we manage for them, our VAs have the benefit of flexibility and the variety of multiple clients. 

Secondly, we have clients – past and present – that started as freelancers and then went on, using their skills and enterprise, tech and creativity, to build a successful and profitable business with the support of a Bay Tree VA. I put myself into that category, having started Bay Tree VA in 2008 after a successful career as a personal assistant in London. 

However, this award is for those who have built their career in a freelance capacity and there may be a whole host of reasons for doing so. I suspect for many, the flexibility suits a lifestyle – the ‘free’dom of freelancing cannot be overstated, but it also takes discipline and motivation to succeed. Freelance work for those recovering from illness or caring for others can be a positive step, allowing financial independence and a real sense of achievement, against the odds. For others, a somewhat nomadic existence, whether by choice or to support a partner’s career (as with the armed forces) makes the freelance option attractive, as clients are less concerned about where you are as long as you conscientiously deliver the service as you are contracted to do. And of course, there are always the non-conformers for whom working in a busy office, with policies and procedures, hierarchy and just average coffee quite frankly, isn’t for them. 

I am really looking forward to judging the category and learning more about the freelance community in West Suffolk.  The world of work has changed dramatically in recent years – not just the way we do it but the work itself. I am expecting nominees to range from the more traditional freelance type of work such as writers, marketers, designers and trainers to emerging roles that use skills many of us can barely fathom.  We are entering an era of more liberated working, where with the support of only a laptop and decent wifi, it is possible to earn a good living working from home, a camper van or hot desk at the nearest business hub. I really want this category to illustrate what makes freelancing such an attractive option and the stories that have led nominees to where they are today.  

So, let’s hear it for the freelancer. I encourage you to nominate that person who is making a first class contribution, using their skills and creativity to do great things. They are part of an inspiring movement that encourages diversity, inclusivity and equality reaching far wider than the confines of the 9-5 and making an impact that is rarely witnessed, let alone celebrated, on a centre stage.  Jane

Listen to Jane speaking about the Freelancer of the Year Award here

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