Since late February/March of this year, I’ve been freelancing, becoming an entrepreneur. It’s been a tumultuous ride: having one client and not knowing how to find others while completely unsure what this thing was. Now, eight months later, I’ve learned quite a bit about “being my own boss”.
1. You have to create your own structure
Many people become entrepreneurs for the flexibility. For some, it’s about being with their families, but for me, it instantly became about attending events around the city during the day or mornings. When I left my last job job to pursue freelance writing, I instantly had WHOLE DAYS to freely spend however I wanted. Not long after, I realized how badly I needed structure, something I struggled to create on my own. I found myself sleeping in, not accomplishing much, then watching copious amounts of TV to lull my boredom. Not exactly productive.
Recently I took on a part-time retail job, giving me the structure I need to plan my days more accordingly.
2. Gotta create boundaries
While creating boundaries between yourself and a client is a given, you need to create internal ones as well. What are you willing to tolerate? Do you want to work all day and have no free time to do anything else? Are you willing to stick up for yourself when confronted by a client? Even as an entrepreneur, you can’t escape needing to create a balance between your needs and others’. This means you have to be really clear about what your priorities are: will you accept personal calls or texts from clients? Do you have office hours? Do you give yourself the weekends off? Do you respond to e-mails at all hours of the day? Even though I’m definitely still figuring it out (often doing client work at 1 or 2 in the morning), it’s ideal to have a general idea before a situation becomes overwhelming.
Click to Tweet: At the end of the day, entrepreneurship will show reveal how mature and professional you really are. (http://clicktotweet.com/tuWwM)
3. Dealing with “stuff”
“Stuff” = emotional baggage. In my last job as an Americorps VISTA, I did a whole bunch of nothing, and while working there brought up some emotional stuff for me (like fear of confrontation), it didn’t really push me. But working as an entrepreneur brings up stuff for me all the damn time. Whether it’s charging clients, worrying about creating quality and timely work, approaching clients when the communication is off, handling paperwork – it always brings up something. The best way, I’ve found, to approach this is to have an accountability buddy. Everyone’s idea of an accountability buddy is different, but in this case, it can be an entrepreneur you turn to who can guide you, bring you back to Earth, and offer you tips on how to handle the situation. Having a sounding board for your entrepreneurial woes is a critical factor in how long you stay this path. Going it alone will drive you insane – and right back into the arms of a full-time job.
4. Release Attachments
In all things, no matter what we do – people make choices, and we can’t control that. Sometimes a client continues to work with you (which is great) while other clients leave. Perhaps you weren’t a good fit. Perhaps there were some unspoken expectations not being met. Perhaps things just weren’t working out. But the fundamental truth is this: you can only control yourself and your response to the world around you. If you try to cling to clients who choose to leave for someone else, you’ll be driven mad (while giving yourself a bad reputation).
5. Ability to Keep Going
One of the hardest things in entrepreneurship is feelings like one (or ten) failings will be the end of either you or your business. Particularly in situations like mine – someone with no spouse or family to really financially support them in a worst-case scenario – each setback or mistake can feel like death. A client leaves because they can’t afford you, or they leave because they don’t like the quality of your work or they leave because they found someone more skilled/faster/better. In the beginning, it feels like each person that leaves is a loss – a loss for your bank account, a potential testimonial, a contact, a client. But don’t think of it that way. Every time something has ended for me, it was for good reason and created space for something new to come.
I used to feel that everything had a beginning, and everything had an end. And I often used that mantra to endure painful situations, waiting for the discomfort to pass so that I can go back to normal. But now, I feel that everything is in a constant state of flux. Entrepreneurship is about learning that nothing really lasts forever – long time clients leave, your business dissolves, you create new and different products and services, or maybe you leave entrepreneurship all together.
And this is what I’m learning to integrate into my mentality: to accept the concept flux, instead of trying to cling to people, paychecks or situations.
Click To Tweet: It’s okay for things to change, for people to leave, or for mistakes to happen. Ultimately, you need to learn to trust yourself and trust that you’ll survive. (http://clicktotweet.com/4_k7x)