Whether we’ve considered making the jump to freelancing and solopreneurship for five years, five months, or five days, there are aspects of it that just aren’t… expected. Aren’t… what we thought they might be. Aren’t… fulfilling.
Here’s what the beginning — and sometimes the middle — look like for solopreneurs:
- You’re consistently seeking out new opportunities
- You’re joining new groups, participating in new Twitter chats, signing up for new email lists — because you need to network, network, and learn (and learn)
- You’re always saying ‘yes’ — even when it doesn’t feel right
- You’re doing work that you might not be thrilled about, but look! that monthly income is rising
Know this: you’re not alone. Most solopreneurs or freelancers dive in, take on as much work as possible to get experience and exposure, and eventually, no matter their tenacity, ambition, or willpower: hit a wall; burnout; consider giving up.
Again: you’re not alone. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt those feelings and thought those thoughts.
And then, because of all of that, we’ve all wondered: is this what it’s supposed to be like?
When you started this, you had a vision. You had a brand you were going to create and solidify day-in and day-out. You created services that you weren’t entirely in love with — but you were going to learn and revise. You had a dream of making that four-hour workweek happen — and spend the rest of your time devouring books, practicing yoga, volunteering.
But here’s the reality: you’re overwhelmed. There are always more opportunities to take on. There’s always more networking to be done. There’s no shutting down or leaving the office at the end of the day. The work is always ongoing.
Here’s the worst part: you’re falling a little bit more behind on the priorities you set for your business each and every day. The priorities that will make your business the business you set out for it to be. The priorities that would help manage the overwhelm. The priorities that will make this solopreneurship thing feel great.
It’s time to change your tune, friend.
I’ve got one simple secret for you that’s going to change everything as long as you constantly remind yourself of it:
You are your primary client.
The most important. The one that gets top billing. The most rewarding.
Here’s what that means:
Each day, identify the one thing that needs to get done in your business.
In his painfully simple, yet genius, book entitled “The One Thing,” Gary Keller asks this:
“What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
Apply this to your business. Each day, do that one thing. Whether it’s taking half an hour to schedule your social media updates for the week; taking an hour to plan out and outline a month’s worth of blog posts; spending two hours drafting the first lesson in that e-course you’ve been talking about forever — set one reasonable, attainable thing that you are going to get done each day. Eliminate the word priorities from your vocabulary. What’s your priority?
Identify one priority for your business each day. And on that day, do that thing.
It’s that simple. If you’ve scoped out five things that need to get done for your business in a certain week and assigned one for each day, you’re five steps further in your own business.
How to make it work
When things get “busy”, the first thing to fall off your to-do list will be your business — if you let it. Here are some additional measures you can take to be sure that your business gets top billing:
Build in some accountability.
Whether you believe in making goals public or not, one thing’s for certain: accountability makes accomplishment that much more attainable. Grab an accountabilibuddy and set up a shared doc. Each week, put in the five things that you’re going to accomplish for your business (one for each day you’re working). Remember, this is all about that top client of yours — you. At the end of each day, check it off, or don’t. (We bet you know which one feels better.) Use a tool like iDoneThis if you want something a little more intuitive. Make your accountabilibuddy your mom if she’s the one who you’re most likely to feel guilty telling “I just didn’t have the time.”
Put your business first.
Everyone’s days are structured differently — in fact, if you ask a solopreneur what a standard day looks like you’ll realize that no two are the same. (Are we solopreneurs or snowflakes?!) Just follow this rule: whatever your best time of day is — the time when you feel the most energized, the most creative, and the most productive — give at least a part of that time to your business. For me, that’s first thing in the morning. For you, that might be three in the afternoon. It doesn’t matter. Your best time needs to go to your business.
When you remind yourself that you are your primary client and follow these steps, you clear the clutter; you commit to moving your business forward, and, most importantly, you give yourself the space to create. The space that you need to devote to making your business that dream business you set out to build.
Now — how will you use that time?