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Love your work: how an artistic side gig became a full-time career for Georgia
9 July 2021
Pulling the plug on a high-flying corporate career is seldom easy. But graphic artist Georgia was determined her hard-working ethos would put her in the financial driving seat.
Q: What inspired you to want to go out on your own?
A: I’d been in the design world for a few years and had a senior role in a small agency. I was working really hard and it just got to the point where I thought, ‘If I’m going to keep working this hard, I want it to be for myself’.
I already had a side hustle called ‘Georgia Draws a House’ – people send me a photo of their home and I produce a hand-drawn picture of it – and I started thinking about whether it would be realistic to turn that into a full-time business.
Q: Did you test the concept first before making the leap?
A: Yes. I decided I’d give myself a year to prove that I could match my salary, working independently. If I succeeded, I would quit my job.
So, every night for a year, between 6pm and midnight, I moonlighted, drawing people’s houses. I did it that way, rather than jumping in headfirst, because I’d been earning a good wage and saving for a house and I didn’t want to jeopardise that, or have to change my lifestyle too much.
After a year, I’d drawn a few hundred houses – and put $20,000 aside as a buffer – so I walked into my boss’s office and said, ‘It’s time for me to go’. Quitting was really satisfying – and really terrifying!
Q: What financial practices have you put in place during your first year flying solo?
A: I’ve done a few things to keep myself in the safe zone financially. I’ve separated my money into different accounts. I put 60 per cent of what I earn away for tax and savings, some into my daily spending account for things like dinners and having fun, and the rest goes back into my business. Because I get paid every day, I do that every day. When I was on a salary and being paid monthly, I was quite bad with money, but the way I manage things now makes me feel in control.
One thing I am nervous about is superannuation, because I don’t know if I’m putting enough away to be able to make contributions.
Even though I’m only in my twenties, I do still worry about my future, about where I’ll be in my sixties. I’m meeting with a government service that offers free advice to small businesses and I’m trying to teach myself more about money so I don’t end up a statistic later on. I try to talk about it with my friends and use tools like MoneySmart, but the gig economy is a newish world and sometimes it seems like there’s not enough information out there for people like me.
Q: Are you otherwise confident you have self-employment sorted?
A: It’s so early on. I feel excited and proud. And nervous, because although I’ve been super busy up to now, it could dry up at any moment. I’m just rolling with it every day!
I think, in order to future-proof my life, I need to commit to continue saving a large proportion of my income. I’ve also had to put my plans to buy a house on hold for a bit because, even though I have my deposit ready, my business doesn’t have a three-year history of earnings yet and I need that, to get a mortgage.
Overall, I’m satisfied with where I’m at, a year in. I’m much happier than I was working for someone else, I’ve become more savvy financially and I’m proud of the work I’m producing.
Q: Do you have any advice for other young women with an entrepreneurial streak who might be inspired by your story?
A: Use free tools like Instagram and Facebook to test whether there’s enough of a market for what you do. Don’t make a rash decision and quit because you’re fed up or you’ve had an argument with someone at work. Go slow and steady, and save.
And take finance into your own hands – be in control of your money. Look at it every day.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this communication is general in nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether it is appropriate for your personal circumstances prior to making any investment decision.