You are reading part “2” in a 5 part series called the Freelancers Blueprint. If you have not already read the preceding posts, we recommend doing so for context. You can read the first post on Deciding to Become A Freelancer here. You can also download a free copy of the entire guide by signing up for our newsletter! It is totally free, no strings attached.
Developing the Right Attitude
The perks of freelancing are undeniable. That said, this career path isn’t an easy one. It requires plenty of grit.
What is grit, and why does it matter to solopreneurs? According to University of Pennsylvania psychologist Angela Duckworth, grit is “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” Here are some tips for encouraging entrepreneurial grit.
Remember, there’s a big difference between being your own boss and having no boss at all. Without self-motivation and accountability, you’ll never get ahead.
What are the top five traits you need to thrive as a freelancer? They include:
- Doing hard things
- Learning as you go
- Self-managing and self-awareness
- Cultivating resilience
- Managing personal and business finances
Launching a freelancing career is exciting, but it also means leaving behind structure and predictability. Let’s briefly deconstruct the characteristics listed above so you can develop the right attitude and mindset.
When it comes to freelancing, you can’t wait until you’re “ready.” Because that day will never come. Instead, you’ll gain confidence and master new skills while providing customers with deliverables.
You’ll adjust to an unfamiliar anxiety that accompanies forging a new path. Remember, this stress represents the flipside of the freedom that attracted you to freelancing in the first place. And it will subside as you gain your freelancing “sea legs”.
Winning new clients and putting yourself out there may also feel awkward, no matter how great a salesperson you are. There’s a significant difference between selling products for somebody else and promoting your dream.
As a freelancer, you’ll set the bar and rise to it. Then, you’ll do it again.
Growth happens during times of uncertainty. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
Failure to launch is often linked to an inability to learn as you go. It’s easier than you think to fall into the trap of using education as an excuse for inaction. After all, training at companies and corporations happens in a bubble before employees start producing.
Instead of cold calling clients or sending pitch letters, you descend into education limbo, telling yourself you’ll start earning after one more class…
Despite your dwindling bank account, the luster of busy work will make you feel productive. But you’re really just spinning your wheels.
As a freelancer, you can’t take this approach. You must learn as you go.
Consider each project you undertake as an educational opportunity. Go after customers and make sales sooner rather than later. Even if you don’t have all of your educational ducks in a row.
Without clients, you don’t get paid. Period.
Besides, the best lessons are learned in real-life situations. Enough of the busy work and wheel spinning!
Self-Managing and Self-Awareness
Self-managing ranks as one of the more challenging aspects of a freelance career. Instead of relying on external motivation (e.g., managers, supervisors), you’ve got to figure it out for yourself. The same goes for managing your workload and organizing your time.
Even overachievers will experience lagging self-motivation. That’s why you’ll find thousands of articles on the subject.
These include everything from how to improve productivity to how to plan the ideal morning routine. Of course, these techniques are only as good as your willingness to self-impose them.
To enhance self-awareness, track your time. You’ll gain a better sense of how much you spend on each task. This self-awareness will help you adjust your schedule based on your natural rhythms of productivity.
As an entrepreneur, you must draw from deep storehouses of resilience. Tasks like managing client expectations prove vital. You’ll need to get good at setting milestones and delivering projects on budget and on time.
No matter how hard you try, there will be clients that you just can’t satisfy. Everyone loses a contract or fails at a project (or two) along the way. It’s the name of the game.
How do you stay positive and forward-thinking when difficulties arise? By cultivating plenty of resilience. You must also hone the ability to separate your personal identity from your work identity.
Managing Personal and Business Finances
Freelancers enjoy control over their time, workload, and money. They’re also responsible for business activities like:
- Writing contracts
- Filing taxes
- Sending invoices
As a new solopreneur, you may feel resentful about these tedious activities. After all, they’re not why you went into freelancing. Nevertheless, they must be completed, requiring expertise and discipline.
On the bright side, once your freelance business blossoms and expands, you can invest in a bookkeeper and tax specialist.
Do You Have What It Takes?
Do you have the five traits listed above? Or the capacity to push yourself into uncomfortable terrain, learning along the way? If so, freelancing may be right for you.
Keep this list of characteristics and skills handy so that you can return to them often. These aren’t skills people are born with. But you can develop and hone them.
You have just read part “2” in a 5 part series. Feel free to proceed to the next post on How To Choose A Freelance Career or download your free copy in eBook format by signing up for our newsletter which is full of community-only content we save exclusively for our family of freelancers.