Sarah's Journey from Third Grade Teacher to Freelance Project ManagerJan 21, 2021
Your work should serve your life. Build your business model to reflect that.
Sarah Duran, Mama of a toddler, 2 dogs, and 4 chickens, and lover of all things Colorado, spills the beans on how and why she works for herself as a Project Manager. Throughout her career, she's been a third grade teacher, worked for K-12 nonprofits, and even got her real estate license! She then leveraged all of her experience to go out on her own as a freelance Project Manager.
Sarah resisted the freelance/entrepreneurial journey for a long time and tried to find the freedom and autonomy that she was craving. While doing freelance work on the side, she finally realized that the entrepreneurial life was calling to her. Now that she has a daughter, she knows that she made the best decision for herself and her family, and is confident that she’ll never jump back into the mainstream workforce.
In this episode, we cover:
- What it’s like to be a freelance Project Manager and how much you can make.
- How Sarah finds and keeps clients.
- How to leverage your existing skillset and network (no matter what industry you come from!) to create a sustainable business for yourself.
- How Sarah diversifies her income streams to help weather any storm.
- Who may be suited to be a freelance Project Manager.
- What Sarah's day to day looks like, juggling working from home with her husband and leaning on local family members for childcare.
You can find Sarah Duran’s company Fruition Initiatives at www.fruitioninitiatives.com, and be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook for a regular stream of tips to help you on your freelancing journey!
For more inspiring stories from parents just like you, check out the rest of our "So ya wanna be a..." podcast series right here.
Here's what you'll find in this episode...
- [1:02] Tiff found Sarah through an article she wrote for the Freelancer's Union, and loved that she was a mama and project manager, much like Tiff herself (Game recognize game!)
- [3:33] Sarah's fave part of working from home with her husband? He can chip in with chores on his lunch break, for a change ;) Instead of work-life balance, it's all about work-life integration
- [7:15] Sarah's folks own their own business, and swore up and down she would never do the same, it just looked too stressful. However, she got to a place where working for other people just wasn't giving her what she needed, even at her dream job
- [9:18] Sarah got her real estate license, and started doing contract work for former employers. The real estate business didn't quite take off, but the contract work started to gather some serious steam, and she took the leap into being her own boss
- [13:00] Flat out, Sarah says what many of us in Kenza Collective also feel: "I could not work for someone else and have a kid"
- [16:39] We need to keep shouting this one from the rooftops: You Can Do This! The first lesson is determining your version of why, like spending more time with your kid; working for yourself allows you to build your business structure around that
- [19:09] So, what does it take to be a project manager? Sarah says that if you're an organized, forward thinker, you've got the skills needed for just about any project
- [25:52] As Tiff has learned through her project management experience, managing projects doesn't actually take that much time, so you can take on multiple clients for big money, without having to work around the clock. Sarah has two pretty big clients that take a good chunk of her time, but can still take on smaller clients for project management or coaching (Beth likes this approach from a financial standpoint!)
- [29:10] If you already work for yourself, you know what it's like to juggle a bunch of projects at once (this free Capacity Planning Tool can help)
- [31:35] Don't underestimate the value of your own network. Sarah relied on her rep as a project manager and found clients through her existing network and through referrals. Once a year, she has (virtual) coffee with folks in her sphere to see if she can provide her services
- [35:25] Freelancers are often kept divided (except at Kenza!), but Sarah is all about the cross promo and working together, especially as we shift more and more to a freelance economy
- [41:45] Mythbusting time: working for yourself doesn't mean you're constantly hustling for clients. If you're good at what you do, you will find yourself booked more often than not
- [44:20] Sarah isn't just a bada*s PM, she also offers coaching for solopreneurs
- [48:19] The challenge to being a project manager: not everyone is a project manager. Not everyone has the organizational, think-and-plan-ahead mentality that PM's have
- [52:28] On the upside, there's a distinct satisfaction in seeing projects come to fruition, and all the pieces you built work together seamlessly
- [56:47] So, let's dive into the day to day of being a parent to a toddler while running a six-figure project management business. For Sarah, that means working 6-7 hours/day, and maybe a half-day on Fridays (ready to be a PM yet?!)
- [1:00:24] Read it twice: charge what you're worth. Do your research in the field, talk to others who do what you do, and learn the market (and don't be afraid to increase your rates!
- [1:07:44] Ladies, get paid what you deserve. Best believe if a freelancing man is up for the job, he's charging what he's worth (and then some)
- [1:09:25] Sarah just launched an online course! If you're already a freelancer, this course is what you need to run your business better. If you're not a freelancer, but want to be, we have the course for that ;)