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15 minutes with member Tom Valcanis

No two days are ever the same for copywriter Tom Valcanis, and that’s exactly why he loves flying solo.

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Tom Valcanis

Describe your “aha” moment; when did your business idea first come to you?

My business idea for “I Sell Words”  came to me during a meeting at my old workplace, a not-for-profit internet company. We were re-designing our website at obscene cost, and the subject of who would write the content came up. All eyes turned to me. Poring over content and re-writing it for clarity and concision, I thought, “I think I could do this freelance, for other people.” I told my friend and colleague first. He said, “Go for it.” That was all the push I needed. I set up my own website as a “side-hustle” that weekend.

Describe for me the “why” of your business:

Variety, creativity, and clarity. I could be working on a finance blog in the morning and a beauty website in the afternoon (this has actually happened – I scare myself with how much knowledge about eyebrow shapes I’ve amassed). Variety keeps me interested, and spurs my creativity. Clarity is also a big ‘why’ – I’m on a mission to rid the world of bad writing.

List your biggest business goals. Which of them scare you the most and why?

My immediate goal is to keep building the service part of the business so I can scale it up. This scares me a little, because it’s a fear of the unknown. My other two goals are to begin holding business writing seminars, one of which I’ve delivered with some success to my local business network. My biggest challenge right now is sustaining cash flow – I’m sure many of us can relate!

"“They’re going to the gym and a restaurant in the middle of the day…is…this allowed?” I thought. "

Has anything surprised you about working for yourself?

My level of self-discipline and self-organisation. Ask any of my teachers; I was the one who sauntered into class ten minutes after the bell, without a textbook… or even a pen.

Once you became a soloist, what about your life changed?

The lack of traffic, since I work from home. I kid. It’s still there; I just don’t have to drive through it each morning! The immediate adjustment was realising there’s no magic paycheque every two weeks. My mindset had to change, too. I was now selling my service and myself to people who may not understand the immense value of what I do, instead of some manager giving me a “pat on the head” just for warming a seat.

What’s the best part of the soloist life?

When I was growing up, I used to marvel at people who could do other things apart from sit in an office all day. “They’re going to the gym and a restaurant in the middle of the day…is…this allowed?” I thought. So for me, the best part is the flexibility of solo work. I can take my laptop anywhere and interact with lots of different ideas and people, and learn so much along the way. I learn more and more each day, which is the most rewarding part.

Got a tip you’d like to share with our community about soloism?

Get a gym membership and a meditation app. Sitting around all day is not healthy for your body, or the mind. Even though that last one is all about sitting around and doing nothing. But it’s good for you, I swear.

Lucy Kippist

is an experienced Australian editor with experience in writing, podcasting radio and television, with previous senior editorial roles at News Corp news.com.au, Kidspot and Kinderling Kids Radio. In her current role as editor of Flying Solo, Australia's #1 website for solo business owners she is pursuing her passion for women in the small business space. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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