Sian Prigg’s freelancer story

As part of our freelance celebration we’re sharing the experiences of female freelancers. Here’s Sian Prigg’s story. 

What’s your career background?

My career journey at the age of five, stood on a beach with my dad and dog in my red wellies! I asked my Dad what the place was over the se and he told me it was Somerset. At the ripe old age of five I announced that I was going to be a Solicitor in Somerset when I grew up.

I am sure some of you are laughing thinking WHAT?!! 

But this decision, stood on that beach at the age of five, in my red wellies took me to study Law at University at the age of 18. 

Two years into this degree I had a moment of realisation that being a solicitor wasn’t wearing a wig and arguing with people, there was a lot more to it than that.

A lot more that I didn’t enjoy and I knew at that point I had made a mistake. It was at this point that I left university (you can imagine most people’s reaction to this decision) and went off to try and discover what I would love to do. 

I found it in the form of people. I started working as a recruitment agent and that was the moment I realised I wanted to work with people and help people. From here I forged ahead to develop a great career in Recruitment, HR and found my one true love Learning and Development.

I get a huge buzz out of L&D career helping people from junior level right up to Senior Executive level develop their skills and seeing the huge progress in their careers, it really is hugely fulfilling. But this wasn’t enough. I still work in L&D but knew I needed to do more and it was at this point I decided to found Start Sooner.  

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I ran a number of intern programs, graduate programs and also worked for a large Apprenticeship training provider. One of the key themes I saw was that young women were leaving school lacking confidence, fully believing lots of unhelpful gender stereotypes and with no real idea about what they wanted to do with their lives or even where to start when it came to thinking about options.

People came into these schemes often having gone to University to do a random degree because university was just what happened after a levels, or having been told University wasn’t an option for them as they were too creative, feisty, not clever enough… the list sadly goes on.

I got more and more frustrated by this until I decide being annoyed wasn’t going to help, I had to do something about it.

At this point I knew there was a problem with young women not getting good information and advice, there was a real gender inequality in the workplace and I love coaching and developing people and was experienced in this.

I combined these three things to found a career coaching organisation for parents and their daughters offering bespoke coaching programs and also offering parent and daughter workshops in schools and communities. 

It was the best thing I ever did!

How did you move from idea to actual business?

I worked with a fabulous coach to help me work through my ideas and pull it into a concrete business idea and then I went for imperfect action, something I am a real believer in.

I decided before I started thinking about products, how much money to make I would start spreading my message by getting out and speaking at events, posting on social media and sugaring videos of my ideas. The more I shared, the more enquiries I got and the business started to grow organically.

What’s your USP?

My USP is an interesting one. The fact that I work with parents and their daughter to facilitate thought provoking conversation and understand options is one. The other one, which is a little more controversial is that I chose not to have children.

I regularly get asked the question, or shamelessly trolled telling me I can’t possible give advice to parents when I am not one. Here is where I see my real USP. I look at it from a commercial view of what young people need to be successful in the working environment. Controversial!

Who’s your target audience?

My target audience is parents who have daughters between the ages of 14-21 who are struggling to work out what career options they have. The other area is schools who are looking to provide workshops to their young women and parents to help with real life careers options.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

I use a variety of ways including speaking at events and running workshops, I love Linked In and share weekly posts and videos here and also by appearing on guest blogs and podcasts, so if you think I would for your audience you know where to find me!

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

The biggest obstacle continues to be rime. I still work as a Senior Learning Consultant for a global automotive finance company, which I love. Balancing this and Start Sooner is a daily challenge but somehow I manage it! Just don’t ask me how…

And your proudest moment so far?

My proudest moment was definitely working with an amazing young woman who had been told at school she couldn’t consider university as she was not academic and too creative. This same young lady after going through a three month 121 program is now going to University in September to study fashion design. 

I think the throwaway comments we make, teacher make, parents make can change a young person’s life for better or often worse.

This situation made me realise that the business I set up was needed, I could make a real difference and change the lives of young women. What’s not to love about those things?

Why is work so important to you?

I was bought up in a family environment where my mum and dad worked so hard to make sure we had the best possible life. They moved house so we could go to the best school and worked a number of jobs to make that happen. Hard work has since then been one of my key values. 

I am hugely independent, love making a difference and having found roles where I can do that has meant work has become such an important part of my life. I totally believe the old phrase about finding a job you love and you will never work a day.

Who inspires you?

So many people! Where do I begin…? People like Paloma Faith or are entirely unique and embrace that uniqueness rather than following what tradition tells them they should are hugely inspirational to me. 

Sheryl Sandberg and her way of overcoming adversity and turning this into a positive is a massive inspiration to me. 

My mum and dad are my biggest inspiration, they worked hard all their life to ensure we had the best possible life and that work ethic has got me where I am today. When I suddenly lost my Dad several years ago I moved back to Wales to live near my mum and it was the best move I ever made, I hear his voice daily encouraging me even though he is no longer with us.

How do you balance your work with your family?

I make time to get away from everything, unplug, switch off and properly talk. This comes in the form of walks in the Brecon Beacons which I am fortunate to live near, wild camping on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere or holidays exploring new places. Or sometimes just a good old beer garden will do! 

What’s your advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

1) Get started

Work out what it is you love and try it! Imperfect action is so important. If you wait for every duck to be in a row you will b=never do it. Be the rogue duck who is doing the limbo at the back of the gang and just get started.

2) Share your story

We are all role models (whatever that means) when we are true to ourselves, share our stories and help others realise we are all unique. Be that inspiration to yourself and others. In the words of my awesome business coach “don’t be selfish and keep your awesomeness to yourself”

Find out more about Sian