Updated: Aug 6, 2020
1 year in
It’s been twelve whole months since I launched my business. There have been ups and downs and it’s been more intensive than I ever imagined, but wow, what a year!
Initially, I wondered whether starting my own business was the right move for me, but it really has been the best career decision I have made. In a nutshell, I get to do the work I love, whilst having more flexibility around family life.
In case it is helpful to other freelancers or those starting a business, I thought I’d share my journey so far.
When you move from being an employee to self-employed, it feels like starting from scratch. In the early days there are so many things to set up and so much to learn, it can be pretty overwhelming.
Get help from family and friends. Whether it’s liking and sharing your posts, passing your contact details on to anyone who may be remotely interested in your services, helping with childcare or just lending an ear, having a solid support network is absolutely vital.
To my family and friends, you have been awesome, thank you!
Networking is a great way to meet other business owners. It gives you a place to ask questions, or share ideas and who better to ask than people who have already been there and done it? Being the face and voice of your business may feel uncomfortable at first, but the more time you spend talking to people about what you do, the easier it will become. You can read my blog about how to get the best out of networking here.
Don't wait for perfect
If you wait until every part of your business is perfectly in place, you may never get off the ground. Just get out there. Plans or intentions you begin with will likely change along the way. By doing, you will quickly realise what works for you and what you need to do differently. My website has been rewritten several times and my approach to marketing has developed and become more focused. Things look quite different to how they did on day one, so don’t be afraid to change and adapt in order to reach your goal.
Being self-employed takes commitment and I work more hours than I thought I would. But the lifestyle more than makes up for it. I love the flexibility, I can work anywhere so long as I have my laptop and wi-fi and I’m really not missing having to commute to work.
Working from home isn’t for everyone. If you like the hustle and bustle of an office, you could look at using a co-working space, more and more are popping up these days. Or you could spend time working in a coffee shop or library.
You need to be able to ignore that pile of washing and focus on work, but equally, you need to make sure you take a break. You don’t have a boss watching over you, so take time away from the screen and recharge the batteries. It could also be tempting to work long hours to ensure your business is a success, but don’t overdo it. As the saying goes, ‘you can't pour from an empty cup’.
Be prepared to have a financial buffer. Freelancing can be a cycle of feast and famine, so it is advisable to put aside some of your earnings to get you through the quieter times.
It’s good to talk
Working remotely isn’t too different from working in an office, however you do have to try that little bit harder to build and maintain relationships. Having regular chats with your clients, in addition to the usual status updates, will help you to get to know each other better. Being aware of the bigger picture helps you to work more mindfully.
Talking to your clients can also bring additional insights so that you can better help their businesses to grow. And it’s a win-win because it will likely also help with how you position your business and may even provide some ideas for additional services that you could offer.
Personal and business development
Make sure you put aside time and funds for development. If you have never run a business before there will be areas that you will be less confident and knowledgeable in. You may also find that the tasks clients ask you to do are different from what you are used to doing as an employee, so you may need to brush up on a few skills.
Work with a coach
Working with a coach can be an excellent investment for your business. Take your time to find someone who has the right experience, will be able to work through any issues and fill in knowledge gaps. A coach will help keep you accountable and push you when you need it. It's very hard to be objective when you are looking at your own business from the inside. A coach will be able to provide a fresh perspective and bring new ideas to the table.
Finding clients takes time
It was a good five months before I landed my first client. Marketing is a long game. Try out different approaches and do more of the things that work for your business. Be patient and be consistent and your efforts will more than likely pay off. Track and monitor your marketing strategies and your online analytics. To start with you don’t need a fancy CRM, a spreadsheet does the job just as well.
And when you’ve found great clients, look after them.
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