So you’re working for yourself, and you don’t have a boss or co-workers or weekly meetings or reports due. Gone are the days of working in an office where you’re blocked from accessing Facebook on your work computer.
Being a freelancer is awesome because hey…you don’t have to deal with any of the above! You’re free!! Yay! Except working for yourself (and often by yourself) is a slippery slope to mid-week Game of Thrones binges and checking Instagram every 15 minutes. (Don’t wanna miss the latest Marnie post!)
This sucks big time.
It means that when most people leap they have to start from scratch and learn how to work for themselves. FYI, this is really freakin’ hard. No one tells you this. But entrepreneurship is one of the biggest learning curves you’ll ever find yourself on.
Even if you’ve been in business a while, you’re probably still struggling with managing all of the different pieces, and doing them all well.
Maybe you’re still googling: “How to work for yourself”.
So below I’ve listed out a smattering of the things you need to ask yourself while building your livelihood as an entrepreneur. Have a quick read through the questions below and identify the areas that you haven’t thought of or where you may have dropped the ball.
Cleaning up your proverbial business house can make all the difference in the world. Let’s begin!
Zoom Out: The Big Picture
What’s your Why? But not just that….Why this business? Why should anyone care? Why these clients? Why do they need you?
If you have no idea how to answer these questions, you’ve got some work to do, love. Knowing your Why(s) is one of the most crucial elements of running a successful small business. It’s the basis for the values you bring to the table, for all of the decisions that you make and the type of clients you attract. Do you know your Why(s)?
Structure: what deliverables do you have? What things must be done regularly in order to get clients or business in the door?
A lot of freelancers start a business and think, “Oh I’ll just put up a website with my services and then let people know on Facebook. Voila! Clients will come running.” WRONG. It’s crucial that you have deliverables to yourself, for your business, that you execute regularly. Why? To get people interested in what you offer and create an ongoing relationship of trust so that they (eventually) decide to hire you. Do you know what your deliverables are to generate business?
Zoom In: The Nitty Gritty
Accountability: What does your business need from you on a weekly basis? Content? Outreach? Bookkeeping? Follow up? What are your set dates/times that are non-negotiable for content?
It’s crucial that you think about the maintenance of your business otherwise things get left undone and it all starts to feel sloppy after a while. Blogging whenever the inspiration strikes? Following up on emails whenever you find the time? Not ok. This looks super unprofessional. Set yourself some deadlines and stick to them…such as a guaranteed bi-monthly blog post and a 48-hour follow up promise for all emails.
Accountability isn’t just about reporting in to other people, it’s about being accountable to yourself. That’s pro, baby.
When do you work best? What are your dedicated work hours and/or peak mental times?
Contrary to popular belief, just because the conventional work world has us sitting at a desk from 9-5 doesn’t mean that you need to do that when you work from home. Some people are morning people, some people are night people. Some people work best in short spurts. Figure out when you work best and then plan you work days around that. Because hey, you work for yourself…you can do whatever you want! (Just make sure you Get It Done)
Where do you work best? At home? Coffee shop? Co-working space?
This is one more thing to get honest about and then set yourself up for success. My friend Lynn goes ape-shit when she works from home alone but thrives in a co-working space. I, on the other hand, LOVE to work from home alone and occasionally go to a (quiet) coffee shop just to mix things up, especially when I write.
What are your greatest distractions? Social media? Kids? Netflix? And which of these distractions do you have control over?
Ah ha! That last bit caught you, didn’t it. Freelancers complain all the time about distractions and procrastination…but you have control over a lot of it. Kids interrupting, maybe not (though you can set working hours where no one is allowed to bug you in the office). But social media and Netflix? This is on you, friend. Only you can shut that shit down. It all depends on how much you want this “freelance” thing. No one is going to hand you discipline on a golden platter so you’d better start creating the habit now.
Every piece of this matters
I don’t have to tell you that having one tiny element out of whack can throw a wrench in your entire business wheel. My client Emma made one small change – she turned off all of the automatic social media notifications that came automatically through her phone and increased her focus and productivity dramatically. One little change = big positive result = greater income potential.
Take action now
In plain speak, how to work smart and achieve your business goals no matter what your circumstances.