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From Freelancers to Entrepreneurs: How Christine and Warren Bernard Made the Jump

Husband and wife team Christine and Warren Bernard are shaking up the creative world with great ideas and lots of caffeine and their start-up, Flat White Concepts.

Monique Verduyn

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Vital Stats

  • Company: Flat White Concepts
  • Players: Warren and Christine Bernard
  • Est: 2013
  • Call: +27 (0)79 701 4661
  • Visit: www.flatwhiteconcepts.com

If you’re a freelancer aiming to do more than sit in front of your computer and deliver projects to clients, you may be thinking about becoming an entrepreneur.

Making the move from freelancing to entrepreneurship can sound a little daunting. Freelancers generally focus on delivering work and getting paid for it, whether it’s per hour or per project. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are more focused on building long-term businesses.

They earn money while they are sleeping. In return they accept the risks involved and have to be open to new challenges. Entrepreneurs usually focus on creating value that is derived by something larger than just focusing on the task or project at hand.

That’s what drove Christine Bernard and her husband Warren a year ago when they launched Flat White Concepts, a name inspired by the blank page that is the start of all creative work and of course, strong coffee, the fuel that drives great design.

“I have a background in magazine and graphic design and Warren is a retoucher and photographer,” says Christine. “After we moved from Durban to Cape Town, I wanted to take the plunge and start a business before I found a job and got stuck in a rut. We decided to combine what we know into one company.”

Focus on your strengths

Picking an area of specialisation, like this team has done, is a great way to move into entrepreneurship. It’s best to pick one area in which you shine and narrowly focus your efforts to win clients that need your expertise.

This will make it less costly and time-consuming to market your business because you’ll focus on fewer, better-qualified prospects. It will also help you compete against the larger, jack-of-all-trade firms.

Do the maths

Flat-White-Concepts-Stamp

The biggest challenge for Christine and Warren was financial. “It’s been said that it takes at least two or three years to really see a profit in your own business,” she says. “Knowing this and deciding to do it anyway is a massive decision. Finding clients for the new business forced me to get out and see and do as much as possible. I’m looking forward to us having a solid company in the future rather than flying solo.”

She stresses that it’s important to keep an excel spreadsheet with your finances on it. Make sure it is kept up to date, so that you have a detailed idea on how much you made and how much you spent. “Don’t become complacent,” she adds.

“Just because you have one really good month doesn’t mean the next month is going to be the same.”

Get your brand out there

That desire to build and grow resources, scale and, of course, revenue, is what ultimately gives entrepreneurs opportunities to drive more growth without always being involved in each and every task they take on.

Christine strongly believes in marketing Flat White Concepts online. That meant ensuring the business had a good online presence from the start. “We market the business mainly through social media, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. We also attend monthly networking meetings. I believe in social interactions and letting people see your personality. I want people to know that they are talking to a person and not a machine.”

Stay in the game

Flat-White-Concepts-Magazine_Snapshots_Success-stories

Measuring growth is a challenge for a new business, but Christine says that every design, photo shoot and image they do for clients is a milestone. They also publish a free online magazine which is growing its readership at a pace. “When you’re having a bad day and someone emails you to tell you how much they enjoyed your magazine, you realise that it’s all worth it.”

She says that having gone into the business knowing it would not be easy has helped.

“I understand why people choose to work for someone else – the constant cash flow is tempting to say the least. Working for yourself is a rollercoaster ride. You fly high one minute and come crashing down the next.”

“It’s constantly changing and you have to keep your head above the water at all times. Do I get moments when I’m wondering what on earth I was thinking? Sure. Do I want to quit? Never. The good far outweighs the bad. And plus, I can walk around telling people what a cool boss I have.”

 

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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