When I first explored the idea of freelance life, I remember reading lots of blogs, articles and talking to people about their experiences. But I didn’t find many talking about their early days, so I wanted to document my first few weeks in the hope it helps someone, somewhere.
Accept the silence
On my first day, I bounced out of bed, dressed properly (make up and everything), walked down the stairs into my new office / dining room. I laid out my new gorgeous stationery, opened up my laptop and sipped tea out of my ‘Girl boss’ mug. I sat there thinking of people sat in traffic or packed commuter trains and felt lucky. A few hours later, I had this overwhelming feeling of sadness. It was weird and I couldn’t understand what was going on.
I realised, fairly quickly, that I hadn’t spoken to anyone all morning. That was unusual for me. Normally after the Christmas break I’d spend most of the morning catching up with 100s of emails. I was used to having people at my desk, popping by to say Happy New Year and/or to ask for help with some idea they’d had over the break. This year, for the first time in 15 years, it was just me.
I messaged a few friends and they told me they went through the same emotions. Setting up your own business is tough at the best of times, but in January it’s the toughest. You’re coming down from a festive high, everything is going back to normal and people are getting on with their life.
I gave myself a good talking to and started to work down my to-do list. And as quickly as the feeling came, the feeling went.
I realised at that point that this wasn’t going to be plain sailing. I’m pretty certain that the feeling will be back again and my imposter will be triggered. It’ll interrupt my flow, it’ll question my ability and make me believe I can’t succeed. But I can’t let it win.
Don’t fear rejection
I used to be terrible with rejection. I’d spend too long on the ‘what ifs’ and wallow in self-pity. So in order to mitigate those feelings I never put myself in those situations which I thought may result in a no. So for example I’d only ever apply for a role if I was 100% confident I hit every criteria and more. I’d never claim to be able to do something until I was confident enough and I received a qualification in it.
It was ridiculous as I was missing out on some great opportunities.
So over the past few years I’ve worked on becoming much better and I’ve pushed my boundaries out, embraced rejection and learnt from each experience. But recently all this was out of the window when it came to writing emails to potential clients and past directors I’ve worked with. The fear of rejection was unreal. Silly thoughts went through my mind, what if they think I’m not qualified or think that I’m only doing this because I can’t get a ‘proper job!’
I texted my friend and asked her if I was being a chicken or if my concerns were valid. She called me out and said I was being a chicken. And she was right. I was, and I needed to get over myself.
What I’m doing is no longer a pipe dream. I’m the CEO of my own company. This means, as well as everything else, I’m responsible for all sales and marketing. There is no one else. So I bit the bullet and sent the emails out. And do you know what? Every single person I contacted wrote back and were really supportive, with a few leading to meetings and catch ups.
Understand your finances
At my own admission I’ve never been great with finance stuff. I just hate it. It’s always falls to the bottom of the pile. But with a limited company being crap at numbers is no longer acceptable and in your first week you need to be on the ball. You are in charge of absolutely everything, including making really hard decisions about VAT and taxes. My course on finance for non-finance managers has definitely served me well and I’d highly recommend you do one before you set up as it’ll give you some understanding of how it all works.
Also find a great accountant who can explain everything properly and someone who will answer questions, because trust me, you’ll have a lot to ask.
Be sensible with your time
If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know that I’m a serial networker. I just love going along to things, learning and meeting new people. However, when you’re building a new business you need to find some balance and be sensible with where you’re spending your time. In an in-house role you could book annual leave and you were still being paid. You’re not if you’re running you’re own business. You also need to account for every penny you’re spending as the luxury of having a regular income is no longer there.
When I was researching and asking questions from my lovely network of consultants, every single one of them advised to watch where time was being spent and what value it brought.
I can chat on for Britain (this lengthy blog is evidence) but I took this advice on board. So I’m trying to be more sensible with my time, I try not to book meetings opposite ends of town, I try to do all my meetings in one day and I book a time limit (mostly for my own awareness!).
This week (week 2) I’ve also started to block time out in my diary for tasks that need completing. If I’m in the middle of a task then my phone is in airplane mode and emails are switched off. This is helping a lot!
Have a morning routine
This time last week I never thought this would feature in my top five. But I’ve recently been learning lots about having a morning routine. At Youpreneur last year one of the speakers, the author of ‘The Miracle Morning’, Hal Elrod, spoke about the importance of having a routine and the benefits. To be really honest, I didn’t think it would work for me as I’m definitely not a morning person.
Fast forward three months and a friend of mine mentioned how having a routine had had such a positive impact on her, giving her more clarity and energy throughout the day. So I downloaded Hal’s book and listened to his advice – and wow, I’ve only just started but it definitely makes a difference. As a business owner, based from a home office, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of waking a bit later than normal and getting sucked into other things. And as I’m not a morning person, I knew that I would fall into the trap – and I did.
So now I’m trying to wake up at least 60 minutes earlier than usual but I’m doing it in chunks. So the first day it was 10 minutes earlier, second day was 20 minutes earlier – slowly building myself to 60.
My routine currently consists of
- Five minute stretching
- Seven minute hiit workout
- Two minute brushing my teeth
- Five minute goal setting for the day
- One minute meditation (I will build this up)
I’ll keep tweaking until I’ve found the right routine and I’ll report back in a few weeks.
So that was my first week! What did you learn about your week?
If you want to have a chat about how I might be able to help you in your organisation then drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Jealous Weekends on Unsplash