Inspiring Employment – “Self employment” with Natasha Wood


– Without upsetting all of the other contributors to this ecourse, I am glad to say we’ve saved the best until last. We have got Natasha Wood here to talk about her experiences of self employment. We talked a lot earlier about the jobs you have done and how you got into them. I think it would be very interesting to share what then led you leaving employment and going off into I guess the sometimes scary or more uncertain world of self employment, and why that worked for you. – Its funny because it wasn’t ever planned and I think that’s what was exciting about it. At the initial it wasn’t planned it just kind of happened. I had a great career, 14 years at the BBC, my final attachment or working for the BBC, was at the BBC New York office. It was amazing to be out in New York, and have the dream and the great apartment, and the support. Running an office, running a team and travelling all over America, which is what I was doing for a year. – Sounds terrible. – Oh I know, terrible, but somebody’s got to do it. Suddenly the BBC said you know what Tash its time for somebody else to have that. The great job, plush this, the bla bla. I though thank you, but do you know what, I don’t want to come home. I just felt that at that time I just wasn’t ready to come back to BBC Birmingham, or Bristol or London, and just pick up the show after having such an amazing career. I thought it was time for me to chase something that I had always wanted to do which was to pursue a performing career and a writing career. Initially it was a year out. I did some studying at Universal Studios at an academy there, actually on site, in L.A. Then I came back home and started to write a stage play. ‘rolling with laughter’ which is my play and that’s how I fell into being self employed initially because obviously it was very complex. I had to setup a production company, which I did, but I kept myself as a self employed person. I started to do speaking engagements, I was writing both for television and then got picked up during my performing career to write for the UK film council. That meant money was coming, offers were on the table – some of them were smaller fees, some of them larger. So I needed to be self employed. I got myself an accountant, as you do, you need to be smart about these things. I started to realise I was doing a lot of typing, a lot of writing which was new for me. So although my job in management in television was hectic, firing off emails or answering the phone, it was pretty go and full on. Or on-set dealing with issues, I had to be quick thinking. Suddenly I was actually based at home and writing. You were going to a lot of meetings and doing bits and bobs. I then got some work television presenting that I was doing out a little bit more. I realised that I wanted a little bit more support with typing and carrying things as well, that was more work based as opposed to being with a PA who tended to do my care. So I really enjoyed and embraced self employment and went to the employment service who backed me with support workers etc. I cant recommend it highly enough for those who are afraid. I thought I was going to be out on a limb and actually I wasn’t. Leaving a huge corporation, which was originally just for a year, I was going to take a year out, go and do a bit of study, go and meet some wacky great people in LA which I did, and then maybe come back to my office. You know, the BBC were holding my job for a year. But eventually I thought, you know what, I’ve got to do it. I think self employment it must be scary and it was scary, once I had made the decision you know wow I am totally out on my own here, you know yourself Martyn, you’ve just gone on this journey yourself. I think its something you’re passionate about, I think it is something you can control and I think you and I both discussed its important you can do the work at your level, without feeling like you’re being watched. Not that I ever was but I think there is that feeling of are you coping. The reality is that you can manage your workload at your level and that’s what I tend to do. Although I have to say it is probably more crazy now than it ever was for the BBC, but I know that I can manage that. If I do need to take time out, or if I do need to just stop and rethink then I can because I am my own boss. I can take on projects if I want to, or I can turn them away or put them aside and think about them for a while. As opposed to being in a corporation where I was told that’s the next job Tash go and do it. – Sure and I think whats really positive about your whole story and approach is that, in a way, you went into self employment more because it was where it made sense for your career or your general likes and ambition and future dreams and everything. Whereas a concern is I think people with a disability might go into it just because its more sort of suited to their disability. – Yes – I think there’s a balance where if it does have a lot of benefits as a disabled person, then roll with it, but equally if you’re happier in an employed job, that’s fine. You just need to make sure you have got the support there. – Yes absolutely. – There are obviously a lot of benefits being self employed because you are able to manage your own time and projects. With certain disabilities that can obviously be a benefit as well. I think you have to really push yourself as well. You know its like in any role, communication is the key. You’re not going to get the work unless you do a good job and get yourself out there. You know as a freelancer, sell yourself. If I want to do speaking engagements then I have to do something. If I am only getting one a month, I need to pay the bills, so I kind of push myself out there, see what conferences are about and see where I might be suited to do a motivational speech. It can often be a Barclays bank or HSBC. Its not always in the obvious place. You need to be motivated. You need to be motivated by yourself. I think there is something really exciting and really inspiring about that. – Well thank you for all of your input into this course Natasha, its been very very helpful and I am sure all of the people using it have taken a lot away. Both in inspirational that anything is possible and from lots of useful tips and hints. Thank you very much for your time and I shall catch up with you again soon. – Thanks a lot!

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