I’ve learned a lot in 5+ years of full-time self-employment. Looking back, there are a lot of lessons I needed to learn to get to this point. I want to share these with you, in hopes that maybe you can implement them earlier in your entrepreneurial journey!
1. Valuing my time more.
When I first started out, I was in the mindset of trading my time for money. I had been waiting tables off and on for years, and was used to this idea of completely giving over blocks of my time to the pursuit of making money, and then when I was “off the clock” there was no possibility of making money so it wasn’t on my mind and my time was mine.This was a VERY different mindset than where I am now, as an entrepreneur.
Now I realize that time = energy.
My energy, which is finite. Of course, this is often something that we learn with age, because our energy becomes more precious and therefore our time becomes more precious. But when I started my business, I gave up my time way too easily and for too little money. Now I see how over-serving and undercharging drained my energy and kept me at a stand-still for a long time in my business.
You can’t have forward momentum if you’re drained from serving clients all day. Now I have to be very intentional with my commitments, because I know that every project I take on is pulling a certain amount of energy from my well, and that energy is the source of my momentum in my business.
So anymore I don’t want to equate time with money. You can’t put a price on your time- it’s crazy to try, because it’s priceless. But we do it all the time- sacrificing our time for the all-mighty dollar. Value is actually more tangible than time. And trying to pin-point that: VALUE: I think is the key to pricing as a service-based entrepreneur.
When I am taking on something new in my business or in my life, I now ask myself these questions:
1. Do I have the mental space & physical energy to commit to this right now? Not just the time, because I know that’s only part of it. . .This new commitment will also occupy regular space in my mind, my inbox and my calendar.
2. Do I feel excited about this opportunity? This is a good time to tap into your intuition, which is likely speaking to you through your body. So tap into how you feel when you think about this commitment? If underneath it all is excitement, enthusiasm, joy or love then consider further.
3. Would I possibly regret doing this? Would I regret not doing this?
4. Am I doing this to please someone else?
2. Being Intentional with my offerings & who I serve
I talked about this a lot in the last episode about the Holistic Business Plan, but when I first started as a freelancer, I did not really have a plan. My intention was to make a living using just my brain and my computer, giving myself the flexibility & freedom to work from anywhere. Great. But I didn’t even think about how much I wanted to or needed to make! I didn’t think very long about the kind of clients I wanted to work with, or exactly what kind of projects I could take on.
I had a background in graphic design, so I started there, and launched myself as a designer and web developer (although I still had a lot to learn in that arena). Clients started showing up, but they were asking fo all kinds of different work from me— print design, logo design, websites big and small, social media marketing, sales funnel creating, Facebook & Google ad set up, etc, etc. I was proud of myself for stepping up and learning all these different things but it was completely unsustainable.
Now I have honed in on a few services that I enjoy and do well and that’s all that I offer. Turns out, this is also the secret to growing your business and hiring people! You can’t easily hire someone else when you’re doing 1000 different things in your business- how would you even begin to train them? But if you get really clear on a few things that you offer and create systems and a process around those, it is easier to hand off to someone else when you’re ready to grow.
3. Investing in myself (my self care & personal growth)
Now I see that personal growth = business growth. They are so intricately connected.. . And when you invest in yourself you are investing in your business. This goes back to the conversation about energy. I need to keep my energy levels high and my creativity and enthusiasm in flow. And this can look different for everybody. I find that I need constant motivation & inspiration which I often find through listening to podcasts and listening to books (if you need any recommendations, let me know!)
I also NEED to connect with other like-minded souls who are on a similar path as me. Self-employment can be so isolating – even for an an introvert like me who LOVES working alone, at home, I still need community. And it’s mind-blowing how much we can learn from others who are mirroring back to us our struggles, desires, and situation. This year has been an especially huge personal & professional growth year for me, because I have finally started prioritizing investing in myself, by working with several coaches in group containers as well as starting to create my own community.
I have a Facebook group for women entrepreneurs called Holistic Business Growth – I would love for you to join if you’re not already in it!
AND I just launched a 2-day group container that I will be leading in a few weeks called The Abundant & Aligned Mini-Mastermind. . . It’s an opportunity to gather with a small group of women to look at our goals for 2022, the energy we want to create, and the steps we need to take to reach those goals. Like I said, there is something magical about sharing goals & struggles with other women!
Well, that leads me to my last takeaway. . . .
4. Put myself out there. Set big goals, then detach from the outcome.
Why think small? Why do something if it isn’t fun? And why bother dwelling on whether it will ‘work out’ or not? We get to be creative in our business- so try something new, see what happens. Failure is an inevitable part of the entrepreneurial journey, but it doesn’t matter because it’s all in service of something bigger. Once you set those big goals, detach from the outcome because you might be blocking something even better (or more educational)!