After five years in business, I’ve learned a few things. When I first started freelancing, I was paid so little for my writing that I don’t know how I ever thought I could make a full time income at those rates. It wasn’t sustainable, but I didn’t know who I could ask for guidance. I felt like I was the only one struggling to figure things out.
Spoiler alert: I wasn’t alone and neither are you.
In case you’re new here, the gist of my story is that I worked hard for years to grow my side hustle of freelancing into a full-time career. I tried and failed and got up again until I made it work and now I’ve also made it my mission to make self-employment a little easier for you. I want biz to boom for you. I want you to sell out all your offers. I want you to feel content with where you’re at and appreciate the journey when you get to where you want to be.
Now, I love what I do and I’m paid fairly for the quality of my work. I’m nearing 2 years full time now and since jumping in full time, my husband and I have crossed off multiple milestones together. We got married, bought a house in our favourite neighbourhood and finally traded our old run-down car that carried across the country and back when we were young in for a brand new truck that we love. We feel good with where we’re at. And the best part? I’m not so stressed about where my next client will come from. They always come.
It took me a long time, but I know you can get to this sweet spot a lot faster than I did, so that’s why I share so much of my story with you now.
Here’s a few of the most important lessons I’ve learned since starting my business. I hope you find them helpful!
This one is key to long-term growth with an online business. And I don’t mean give your business a name that doesn’t include yours—that doesn’t matter. Even if you’re a personal brand, your business doesn’t need to be all of you. It should be a separate entity so you can clock out like those with typical day jobs do.
A few other lessons that fall under this umbrella:
You don’t always need to but plugged in.
Save some bits of your life for yourself.
Reserve some time in your calendar.
Your identity is more than your work.
Maintain relationships that have nothing to do with your work.
I get it… when you love what you do it’s hard to turn off. I am still guilty of this one! But making a conscious effort to distinguish between what’s on-brand and what bits of my life I can save for myself helped me learn to rest. And when you save time to rest, you can run farther.
Along the same lines, separating yourself from your business will help you deal with challenges and hardships, which will come no matter how good you are at business. We all have something to learn from rejection or negative client relationships, but you need to separate your own self-worth from the situations like this in order to truly learn. If a potential client decides they don’t want to work with you, remember that it doesn’t reflect your personal value.
No matter how much goal setting, scheming and planning, and what the financial projections say, you never know what could happen. Always be ready for the unexpected. My parents taught me this one and am I ever glad that they did.
Before I went full time, I saved enough money so that I could survive for 3 months if I lost all my current clients suddenly. Even though this wasn’t likely to happen, having a safety net added feelings of security. There’s no perfect number… some people are comfortable with 1 month of backup, while others prefer to have 6 ready in their savings. It’s up to you to decide that.
Even now, I always have a buffer of cash in my business account so that in the worst case, unlikely scenarios, I know that I don’t have to worry. If I lost every client, my business is okay. This might seem unnecessary as your business grows, but you never know what will happen in life! For example, at the time of writing this, we’re all living through the COVID-19 pandemic.
I touched on this above, but it deserves it’s own point because it’s a big one.
It’s not you—it’s just business. When just starting out, I could have got rich off all the rejections I received. What’s worse than a “no, thank you” is silence—your offer wasn’t worth the time to reply. THAT’S OKAY. Think of all the offers you make in a year, then think of the ones that were rejected. Don’t let any of those make you feel bad… they’re all lessons learned. People have their own reasons for deciding one way or another and we’ll never know, no matter how much we speculate.
The rejections that hurt the most are the ones that come closer to the time to close. You might have an amazing discovery call, send a proposal, then have your lead ghost when it’s time to sign. That’s a challenge to deal with! But in these cases, you need to realize their decision probably has nothing to do with you. It could be bad timing for them or an issue with money, but they don’t feel comfortable sharing those details. One thing that helped me minimize these kind of rejections is improving my screening process before a call. When people inquire via my website, they are automatically sent a package that clarifies my services, starting rates, and experience. This way we’re on the same page about the basics before we get on the phone.
Fellow business owners, what’s one lesson you’ve learned? Share it below! By sharing our experiences, we all get a little closer to finding the answers. I’d love to hear from you.
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