This past weekend I celebrated my two year freelance business anniversary. WOOOT! Here’s me with a pilsner and a tofu bowl enjoying the sunshine! Steve and I went out to lunch and reminisced about the past few years and the day that I quit my job. At times, it all seems like it happened yesterday.
Walking into my third year feels a lot different than the past two—it’s still the same bag of mixed feelings such as complete terror like WTF have I gotten myself into and extreme excitement like hell yes I AM a BADASS—but my perspective has just shifted. If I just did this for two years, I can do it again and make it even better—bring it on!
While leaving your 9-5 job to go out on your own IS a big deal, I noticed that it ended up not being nearly as “scary” as I thought it would be. There have been a lot of unexpected realizations like this one, so I figured I’d share my take on the past two years of self-employment. ENJOY!
There’s a big adjustment period
The first few years of running a business are all about adjusting and hitting your stride. There is SO much to learn just by DOING. I’m not sure that you can be 100% prepared for this unless you just DO IT. Figuring out exactly what you want to offer (and what you don’t), who you want to offer it to (and who NOT to offer it to—this is a big one), how much to charge, what the process will be, how you are going to market and present yourself, how to manage your time, how to keep everything organized and so so so so much more.
Everything takes 10x longer than you’d expect
I’m notorious for creating a huge daily to-do list… a list so long it’s literally not humanly possible. Then I’ll tear myself down for not getting all of it done in a 12 hour day and be overcome with a sense of being “behind.” Talk about exhausting and frustrating! In the past few years, I’ve learned to add in a lot of extra time for tasks and to give myself grace. Now when I quote projects, I try to realistically estimate the timeframe then add at least two extra weeks. Rushing through work and being under pressure is never going to get me where I want to go.
Confidence is EVERYTHING
I’ve found that having confidence and a strong presentation in what you’re offering has huge benefits. My dad always said (still does), “Just act like you know what you’re talking about—that’s half of being in business.” YES, it really is! I don’t think he meant to lie to people, but be confident and strong in how you present yourself and what you offer—talk as if you know what the hell is going on. If you don’t believe in what your business is bringing to the table, it’s going to make selling it to others impossible.
It’s a rollercoaster
One 8-hour day can be filled with the most extreme of emotions. You win a huge project—YAY—then turn around and a client is calling you that their website has crashed—UGH, remind me why I wanted to do this again?—Here we go! Highs and lows are all part of this journey and it’s important to keep a level head as much as you can. Don’t take things too seriously. The world will still go round. Do your best work, be honest with people and everything will be OKAY. Enjoy the ups, keep calm during the downs and have faith that in the end, you’ll wind up on top.
I freaking LOVE my “job”
Okay, it’s true. I’m obsessed with working. The first thing I want to do in the morning is brainstorm and set the stage for a great workday. I find much of what I do pretty fun. It didn’t start out this way. When I first stepped into freelancing, I just took on anything and everything, trying to make it work. I had to refine what type of work I enjoyed doing the most, what I was best at and what was bringing the most value to my clients.
There are most definitely times where I’m stressed out or feel as if I’m in over my head—or just downright have no motivation AT ALL—but for the most part, I love what I do. Yes, it IS work, but it truly brings me so much joy. To dream of something, put in the effort and then actually make it work is so satisfying.
What if I fail? What if clients fire me? What if I can’t make enough money? What if no one takes me seriously? The list goes on and on. You can create enough fear with these questions that paralyze you from chasing your dreams. I get it, I’ve been there. But, you’re big ideas are possible given your dedication, effort and tenacity. Stop with the self-doubt, YOU are the only one holding yourself back.
Two years down, a BUNCH more to go! Thank you to everyone who is following my journey. I hope my experiences can inspire you and give you a little bit of courage to turn those dreams into a reality.
Thanks for reading!