Watch: ‘Studies don’t really prepare you for the self-employed world’

The Creative Director and founder of the UNGL studio explained that her studies in graphic design at MCAST had given her the grounding to build experience in the industry, but it didn’t really prepare her to be self-employed.

‘Studies don’t really prepare you for the self-employed world, it just prepares you to be a graphic designer and that’s it.’

This answer came following a question asking if Azzopardi had ever been confronted with doses of reality and learning curves that come with owning and running her own business.

‘I had to learn through experience. I asked around for help.’

Among those learning curves were like aspects like filling out tax returns correctly doing and Invoice or VAT paperwork.

‘I had to refer to friends who were accountants or were in business development. You do make mistakes but you learn from them and you’re able to do a Tax or a VAT return on your own. No one is teaching you these things so you have to learn them.’

Overcoming the odds

Newsbook.com.mt spoke to Azzopardi as one of Malta’s self-employed one-woman enterprises operating in Malta.

The National Statistics Office had recorded another increase in the number entering the Maltese Labour Force in the first quarter of this year.

More self-employed women in Q1 2019

In the previous article, Azzopardi explained how it was difficult at the beginning to get set up and stay afloat. There had been a number of times where she had considered calling it a day but she was determined not to give up.

Watch: “The first year is the most difficult; I thought about quitting but didn’t”

‘Surround yourself with others in the same situation’

Azzopardi explained that during her early days, she found that it was good to be surrounded by people in a similar situation. It helped because, ‘You can advise each other, you grow together.’

When asked if there is enough support, the creative director explained that there was a lot of help for people setting out, from networking events to the opportunities to meet female entrepreneurs.

‘The most important part was to go to networking events, meet successful people, listen to their mistakes and discuss through how they resolved the failure.’

Intimidation

When asked if it was ever intimidating going up front of potential clients from large companies, Azzopardi said that it was at the beginning.

‘You’re going to meetings with powerful people in front of you. It was intimidating first off. You’d be alone with managers and CEOs presenting your work. Eventually you learn to relax and present yourself. That’s a skills you acquire through experience. It takes of meetings and meeting countless people to get to that point.’

‘I’m turning 30 soon, sometimes they say “it’s time for a family”’

In the previous article, Azzopardi explained that she had female clients and suppliers who were themselves business people with their own families.

When asked if based on what she saw of her clients, she would continue with the business or consider quitting.

She said that the thought of having a family had ‘never crossed my mind to have an actual family of my own,’ adding that she felt wouldn’t be a problem to have a business and have a family.

‘I know lots of mums who run their own business. It maybe means more time for a family and less time for business but you definitely continue. There is no need to quit.’

Had family played any part in encouraging her to start one? Azzopardi explains that sometimes pressure her a bit but they are largely supportive of her and her business.

‘Sometimes my family pressures me a bit about it. “I’m turning 30 soon, it’s time for a family.” They are actually really supportive of me having my business.’