James Freestone is the co-founder & COO at Homemove, where he building a UK proptech powerhouse from the ground up to make moving home simple.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
My journey into the world of Corporate Finance and Strategy was a relentless pursuit of getting my foot into doors, a never-ending quest to learn and grow, and a battle against what I wanted to do long-term and what I had to learn to get there. I’ve worked for some great companies, including Jaguar Land Rover, where I was lucky to work alongside some of the most brilliant strategic minds who challenged me every day to be better.
But deep down, I knew that my true calling lay in the world of start-ups, where my skills and expertise could make a measurable impact. And so, I embarked on a mission to help new and innovative companies get off the ground.
It all began with an internship at Crowdcube, where I helped to secure funding for visionary founders and learned the art of presenting a business ready for investment. Those were the years I saw as my apprenticeship, acquiring all the skill sets necessary to build my own business when the time was right.
And that time finally came last year, when I co-founded homemove with my business partner, Louis. Our platform simplifies and aggregates all things related to moving home, making the process smoother and more streamlined for everyone involved. It was the culmination of years of hard work, sacrifice, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. My journey has been one of perseverance, resilience, and an unyielding determination to be who I am right now. And I see this as chapter one.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
My day typically starts with a gentle awakening, trusting my body to wake up between 6:30 and 7:30. I don’t set an alarm. After a hard shower reset, I grab a coffee from Costa and head to the office in Derby.
Once there, I hit the ground running. As a founder my responsibilities include ensuring that our business has the necessary resources to execute its plans while keeping a watchful eye on executing those plans.
I’m constantly shaping the narrative of our business and selling the story to investors. Raising investment is a true grind to balance – it’s a numbers game which requires tenacity, perseverance, and the understanding that rejection is simply a function of mathematics.
I will also keep on top of lots of ad-hoc aspects that come up in the day to day and work to translate my creative vision of the company to the tech team who work to build it.
I will usually wrap up my time in the office at around 19:30 and head home for food and aim to switch off from the day.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
For me, work-life balance isn’t about finding a strict separation between work and life. Instead, I view work as an integral part of my life and strive to find joy and fulfilment in both.
The art of balancing a healthy lifestyle can be a complex puzzle to solve. Each piece, whether it be eating healthy, socialising, exercising, or working hard, is interconnected, and when one is out of place, the entire picture is thrown off balance. It’s a delicate mental dance and achieving harmony between these elements requires careful consideration and intentionality.
To maintain a healthy balance, I believe it’s important to focus on the things that truly matter at that moment – these include time to learn more about yourself, time for family, and time with friends. Notice the common denominator? Time.
When I’m in either of these zones, I aim to be present and fully engaged in the moment. I also try to create a work environment that is enjoyable and exciting. When I’m passionate about the work I’m doing, it becomes easier to find a sense of fulfilment and purpose in my life.
Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?
One of the most impactful changes has been incorporating daily walks into my routine. These walks, whether by the riverbanks and fields or the peak district near my home, allow me to immerse myself in nature and find a sense of grounding, patterns, and clarity amidst the seeming chaos of building a start-up business.
Additionally, as a linguist, I’ve found that learning music theory, playing piano, and understanding the fundamentals of complicated subjects such as Machine Learning have helped me expand my skill set while providing a sense of fulfilment and enjoyment in my personal life. These lifestyle changes may seem small, but they have made a significant impact on my overall well-being and growth but also seeing the deeper harmonies and patterns in work and life.
We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?
I’m currently immersed in the Know Thyself Podcast, and I have to say, it’s an incredibly powerful podcast. The dedication to exploring the journey of self-discovery is one of the most rewarding tasks an individual can undertake and Know Thyself provides an excellent platform for those who wish to embark on this journey.
The podcast reminds us that the answers we seek can only be found within ourselves. When we understand ourselves at the deepest level, we can gain a greater understanding of the universe and the world around us and use this knowledge to shape it but also become more at one with the natural process of life by not forcing it.
Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s crucial to take the time to reflect on your own values, priorities, and goals and create a lifestyle that aligns with them.
Strive for a balance that works for you, rather than trying to fit into someone else’s mould. And remember, change is constant, so it’s essential to be adaptable and willing to adjust, as necessary.
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Every step forward is a step towards growth and fulfilment.
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