Have you ever wondered about becoming an entrepreneur, but not sure if you’re cut out for it?
Honestly, I’ve experienced some atrocious freelancer behaviour in the past. People who definitely shouldn’t be self-employed. Like, zero work ethic.
If you’re even reading this, you have a squillion times more of a clue than those people.
When I started out in business, I first thought I’d make it my mission to freelance. What a happy world it would be if everyone could do their own thing!
How naive that was. It’s tough for me to get my head around this, but some people don’t want to run their own show. They like being told what to do and having a neat role to work in. The boundaries are clear. The tasks are defined.
Even though it’s important for small business owners to plan their own time, organise and manage their own tasks, have a relationship with their own clients and troubleshoot, well, everything, the truth is none of these things actually matter.
These facets are flexible and the entrepreneur can choose a method that suits them.
Choice equals flexibility
And flexibility equals you don’t necessarily have to have it as a trait of your own.
Take planning for example. An entrepreneur’s plan comprises the elements they choose to do and work on. Or client relationships. These depend on the people the entrepreneur chooses to approach, attract and take on. You can always say no.
There’s nothing that an entrepreneur cannot choose.
Except one tiny but vital thing. The single most important trait in any a freelancer anywhere.
Resilience, the entrepreneur has no choice over. Persistence is non-negotiable. Every freelancer must persevere. Follow up. Fail, get up, dust down, continue.
Other aspect of freelancing can be managed, learned, avoided or delegated, but perseverance is the one thing that separates successful freelancers from those who don’t make it and skulk back to a desk job.
Recently, I recruited some freelance transcribers to take on some overflow transcription work.
Then August happened (traditionally the quietest month for transcription) and I didn’t have any work to give them. Note to self: don’t recruit in July.
As these new freelance colleagues waited patiently, one new recruit informed me after 3 weeks that she had ‘waited long enough’ and had had to take a full-time job. In the kindest possible way, maybe I could give you a heads-up…
Don’t go into business if you’re not expecting it to be hard
And not hard for a week or a month or two. Hard for the first 6 to 18 months. And then even harder!
The only way to get through this start-up time is to work your arse off to set up your gig. You don’t wait for work. You go and find it. Freelancers with regular agency gigs are particularly guilty of this. As are thee build-it-and-they-will-come authorpreneurs.
Get in front of people and hustle your little tush off.
Then and only then will things start to click. Nobody goes from zero to booked solid in 3 weeks. (Kudos, if you did. You probably should’ve started your biz long ago.)
Attitude is everything
If I meet a cagey freelancer, who isn’t all that confident or all that bothered about chasing leads and bringing in amazing work, who ‘blames the recession’, I’m usually a bit disappointed. (Stop giving entrepreneurs a bad name, damnit!)
But I’m also hugely cautious of spending any time mentoring them.
Dedication, persistence, continuity, grit.
Whatever you want to call it, an entrepreneur will never get far without the ability to persevere and persevere hard.