On June 13, 2015, I started working for myself full-time. I quit my secure, full-time corporate job to pursue my passion. Some people thought I was crazy and some people were genuinely excited for me. Deep down, I knew I was making the right decision. To describe this past year as a roller-coaster ride is truly an understatement. There have been high's - when I felt on top of the world and so confident and sure of my career path. But there have also been low's - times when I felt alone, lost, and completely doubting myself and my abilities. They say the best way to learn is through your own failures but if you're looking to take the leap into the freelance world, I hope some of my words can provide some real insight into this crazy but rewarding lifestyle.
1. Positivity is key.
This means saying goodbye to Negative Nancy. You don't have time to entertain her! I’m the type of person who is constantly talking to myself (in my head of course). Sometimes my self-talk turns into self-sabotage which is not good. It’s okay and perfectly normal to fall into a rut sometimes but when you start putting yourself down and believing you can’t do something, chances are, your productivity will suffer and that not only means unhappy clients but also an unhappy YOU. Stay positive and always, always be grateful. I also find exercise and yoga helps for me or basically anything that makes me sweat and release them good endorphins.
"UNDERSTAND THAT THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE YOUR OWN PATH IS A SACRED PRIVILEGE. USE IT. DWELL IN POSSIBILITY." – OPRAH WINFREY
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for what YOU want.
Yes, ask for help. And ask for more money if you have to. You need to muster up the courage to charge clients what you truly believe you’re worth. If you have 10 years of experience in your industry, then you better not be charging the rate of a new grad just because you’re starting out on your own. If you end up undercharging your client, you probably won’t be as happy doing the work. After all, what’s the worst thing they could say? There’s usually always room for negotiation when it comes to pricing and fees. Besides, the people who truly value your work will pay for your services.
3. Stop fooling yourself, you can’t do everything.
If you’re starting out on your own, it’s natural to want to do everything yourself in order to save your hard earned money but when your business starts to grow, you’ll need to reach out for help and learn how to leverage your network. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I always hear the saying “find your tribe” and I wholeheartedly agree. Connect with like-minded individuals and see if there’s a possibility to partner with them or exchange services.
"For changes to be of any true value, they've got to be lasting and consistent. – Tony Robbins
4. Time management is SO important.
This is a biggy and something I still struggle with. As you get busier, it will be harder to juggle the demands of work and your personal life. Being organized is a given, but you need to stay focused and “in the zone” to knock off the things on your to-do list. Create some type of structure or build a routine that works for you. Eliminate all distractions and find out what helps keep you focused. It’s also essential to find the tools that help save you time. I like to use Freedcamp (for tasks) and Zoho (for invoicing)
5. Learn how to say NO.
When you’re starting off, you will probably want to take every job that comes your way out of financial necessity. But once you get established and have some regular clients, follow your gut and say no to those clients who don’t seem like they would be a good fit or stress you THE EFF out. Maybe they're unorganized or the work wasn’t interesting or challenging enough for you. I like to remember this saying, “It’s only by saying NO that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” - Steve Jobs
"IT'S ONLY BY SAYING NO THAT YOU CAN CONCENTRATE ON THE THINGS THAT ARE REALLY IMPORTANT" – STEVE JOBS
6. It’s ok to fail.
I’ve made so many mistakes during my first year and I’m sure you will do the same. You can’t beat yourself up over it, you can only take that experience and learn from it. Evaluate the process, make a list of what worked and didn’t work and make sure you adjust for next time. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing and growing is essential to achieving your goals.
“SOMETIMES I SUCCEED, SOMETIMES I FAIL, BUT EVERY DAY IS A CLEAN SLATE AND A FRESH OPPORTUNITY” – GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT
7. Schedule time for YOU.
Spending time with loved ones is absolutely paramount for me. Don’t forget about those who helped you get to where you are and cherish the moments you spend with them. Be completely present and give them your undivided attention (ahem, put away that phone). But more importantly, take care of YOU. Now that you’re wearing so many hats, you will need “me time” to decompress and relax. Take a spa day if you have to, And heck, you deserve it! It may sound cheesy but it’s true.
8. Don’t forget your WHY.
If you’re going out on your own, I’m sure there is a good reason for it. And I commend you for having the courage to take the leap. Whether you’re unhappy about your current situation, trying to follow your passion, trying to make ends meet, or all of the above — chances are you are doing this to make your life better. It’s so easy to get discouraged and frustrated when sh*t goes wrong. It's also easy to get stuck in a never-ending tornado of work. Don’t allow the obstacles and failures of the process make you forget why you started.