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The #1 Reason Your Business Will Fail if You’re a Freelancer

The number one reason your business will fail is you. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

To be more specific:

Your lack of urgency.

Your lack of focus.

Your lack of commitment.

That’s why your business will fail. That’s why you’ll never quit your day-job — or if you already quit, that’s why you’ll go crawling back.

How do I know?

Because we’re not so different, you and I.

There are multiple sneaky reasons your business can fail. Check out this post for the #1 reason and what you can do to make sure it doesn't happen.

And because, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. And they’re not. Because it’s actually really hard to hold down a job, build a business, coach clients, have a healthy marriage, raise a baby, have a social life and train for a marathon all at the same time.

Too specific?

Maybe that’s just me, but really: where were you 6 or 12 months ago and where are you now? I’m guessing pretty much the same place. Same old shit. Same “One day I’m gonna…” on repeat in our head.

What the fuck? Enough already.

The good news is that YOU are ALSO the #1 reason your business will succeed. If you do the work.

So here are a handful of key things to consider in order to have the best possible chance of success in business and in life.

Make commitments.

And keep them.

These personal promises are the cornerstone of building trust in yourself and with others. If you don’t make a commitment, all you have is a ‘hope’. You need to know that when you say you’ll do something, you can count on yourself to get it done.

commitment: the state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action

There’s a big difference between being interested in something and being committed to achieving it. When you’re truly committed, you’ll accept nothing but the desired result. When you’re truly committed, you’ll do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do. When you’re truly committed you stop thinking ‘if’ and start planning ‘how’.

Elements of a powerful commitment

1. Identify your strong desire.

You need a clear and compelling reason behind your commitment. Without a compelling reason obstacles can seem insurmountable, but with one they appear just as challenges to be met and overcome. The end result needs to be meaningful enough to keep you going through the hard times, because there are going to be hard times.

What is your strong desire behind building your business? Is it freedom? What does that mean to you?

2. Find your key actions.

Identify the core actions that will produce the result you desire. It is what you DO that counts, not what you say, and while there are almost certainly many things that you CAN do, only a few of them really matter. These core activities, maybe even as few as one or two key activities, will produce most of the results. Focus on them relentlessly.

This is the 80:20 rule, or Pareto’s principle in action. Conversely, identify those activities that are time-wasters and cut them out – these could be obvious like Facebook or TV, or they could be low level business related tasks that you choose to do instead of the one really important thing that you’re avoiding.

3. Count the costs.

Commitments require sacrifice, or opportunity cost at the very least. Don’t commit to something before assessing the costs involved, not just financial costs, but time, emotion, discomfort, uncertainty, risk. When you identify the cost, you can decide whether you are willing to pay the price.

Is reaching your goal ‘worth it’? What are you willing to do, or give up, in order to reach your goal? Are you willing to get up early or go to bed late? Are you willing to ease back on eating out or socializing to save time and money? Are you willing to make 10 extra sales calls per day (even though you hate them)?

4. Act

Act on your commitments, not your feelings. Some days you just won’t feel like following through on your actions. Fuck feelings. Act on the commitments you made, not the way you feel. Remember that in step 3 you acknowledged the costs involved and accepted them. Move along!

5. Make your commitments for a short time.

You don’t have to commit to these actions or activities for the rest of your life. Far from it. In fact, setting yourself these commitments for just 1-3 months provides you with an opportunity to review your progress and make any necessary adjustments. After each period look back and determine what worked and what didn’t, adjust course, make new commitments and carry on.

Have you ever been so determined to accomplish something important that you were willing to do whatever it took? I bet you have, so you know how it feels. You know the difference between something you’re committed to and something you won’t follow through on.

Al Clunnie Al Clunnie is a Lifestyle Design and Personal Development coach. He helps people take their “One day I’ll…” and make it happen by getting clear on their goals and the steps required to achieve them. When he isn’t coaching people, he’s probably out running, brewing some beer, walking his dogs or spending time with his newborn son. You can find out more, and request a free consultation at or by joining the friendly, inspiring and free community of like-minded people in The Momentum Group on Facebook.

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Wow! So much motivation from this post! Great job, Al! I completely agree with you, we need a powerful commitment if we want to make this freelancing thing happen long term!

    Thanks for sharing! Best,


    • Al

      Thanks Melanie! It’s a marathon not a sprint, so you definitely need a good long-term vision!

  • YES!!!! Thank you for the quick swift in the butt lol….

    • Al

      You’re welcome Gwendolyn – any time!

  • Totally agree with this, Al!

    Becoming a freelancer is a LOT of hard work, and it doesn’t just involve landing clients. It involves setting yourself up for success in the long run and, most of all, being consistent and intentional in everything you do!

    • Al

      Right, Lizzie,

      In fact the vast majority of being a freelancer isn’t about doing the one fun thing you enjoy and the reason you started – it’s all the background stuff that’s much harder to motivate yourself to do.
      no one said it would be easy, right?

  • Excellent post, loved this! 🙂

  • Thankyou! Best read of the day!

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