It’s been driving me a little nutty lately that my freelance business has become open for scrutiny. This usually occurs when you’re enjoying some measure of success or you’re launching new ideas. Part of me takes comfort from the extra eyeballs because of that fact.
Yet there is a part of me that thinks “why is my freelance business your business?”
Maybe it’s because the only time I dive deep into other people’s business is when they want me to and pay me to do it. Or maybe it’s because it’s hard enough being in business without self appointed coaches and critics looking on.
But I am going to say this loudly and clearly in print so you can all hear it.
How I run my freelance business is my business. Here’s why.
Your fixation with money is not shared
Could I make more? Yes.
Could I charge more? Yes.
Do I want to? Not really.
This isn’t because I am some goose that fell from the ‘I don’t know how to run my freelance business’ tree. Or because I have an allergy to money.
I may be an anarchist. But I still like room service.
It’s because I know how to price products properly. And it’s because I know more about the kinds of clients I want to attract than the self appointed experts do.
In summary: I price to attract the right client for me while also knowing the cost of sitting at my desk.
Most people I know haven’t done that.
The people who tell me how and what to charge are usually the ones who pull cross-eyed faces when they refer to their own clients. The same people turn green when I share my client stories.
I’m not sure receiving advice on how to do business from people who don’t seem to like their businesses anymore is a good idea.
My freelance business is built on my freelance business being interesting to me. Money helps keep the wheels turning. But it’s not the whole ballgame.
I am insatiably curious. I alone have to live with that fact
You’d think wanting to know why all the time would be a bonus. Believe me, it’s not.
When my curious brain isn’t getting to investigate, explore and think about new things, it becomes anxious, agitated and hard to live with. Both for myself and for those around me on a regular basis.
Having my own freelance business is about managing this properly.
My unchallenged brain avoids sleep. It has trouble focusing and resembles anxiety in its most human of forms.
Over the years, I have learnt a lot of different ways to ensure the desire to create and the need for curiosity is satiated. I write, work on side projects, paint and draw. I have a multitude of places online where I write. I know nothing helps relieve stress, keeps me mindful and gives me the greatest sense of achievement like bashing out some useful words.
Volunteering keeps me grounded and reminds me to not take life so seriously. I look after other freelancers through the Freelance Jungle.
My brain is turned on by trying to find ways to reduce stress and increase productivity.
I soak in social media articles to stay up to date because it’s a good use of my time. And it also keeps my hungry brain a little more fed.
My freelance business is about keeping myself entertained. I don’t do it to be someone else’s super hero. I am not your social justice porn. I’m not chasing accolades.
I do it because it makes me happy, more resilient and better able to function.
It bothers me that I am managing my self care by staying engaged and productive only to have someone tell me why it’s a bad idea.
I have had my brain for 40 years. Failing an alien abduction I am not aware of, no one else can make this claim.
So how I spend my business time and the time outside my freelance business has nothing to do with what others think. And it has everything to do with what works for me.
I like helping people (insert the shock and horror here)
As uncomfortable as a lot of people may be at the idea of being in business (and in marketing no less) to help people, that’s exactly what motivated me to do it.
I find working on other people’s businesses fun. I get to use a fresh pair of eyes and new insights to take their business to the next level. I get to apply my knowledge. And I am paid to be creative.
Part of the motivation for starting my freelance business was realising I didn’t want to spend budgets on projects that were not valuable. I didn’t want to create things that were devoid of meaning or impact when it came to customers. I wanted to use my skills to help businesses succeed.
I do this because I want to use my business to further the business of others. And I don’t know why this notion generates so much discomfort in others.
My aim is not to “just think of the money”, my aim is to feel accomplished and worthwhile.
It’s a different motivation for other freelancers and business people, but it’s one that works for me.
And I’m tired of having to be polite when it comes to other business people telling me I am not making enough money, I should charge more and I should offer different services to the ones I offer.
I make a good living but I’m not in this for the money or the chance to be internet famous.
I do it because I like doing what I do. Not understanding that says more about someone else’s business than it does about mine.
Think before you critique
Sharing knowledge is exciting and sometimes you can be off and sharing ideas before you know it. But there are a few things to keep in mind when you decide you know how to do someone else’s business better:
Business motivations are not universal.
What floats your business boat may not float mine. I cop the most flack from people who are extrinsically motivated. Business owners who are motivated by status, success and wealth find the way I conduct myself in business difficult to understand.
But that doesn’t mean my freelance business requires renovation. Or that I should adopt a different approach.
It simply means my motivation is different.
The same applies to all business people. And understanding what motivates a person to be in business is your first step. If you don’t know what motivates another business person, you’ve got no chance of giving advice that is useful.
What you are suggesting may not be as new as you think.
Just because someone doesn’t act on an idea doesn’t mean they haven’t considered it. They may have decided that the idea didn’t warrant the attention after investigation or that there were greater priorities at the time.
Listen first, suggest later.
A business owner lives their business. You don’t.
While you might have a particular skill set that could add value to that business, it’s still never going to be your baby.
That business person knows their business better than you do and they always will. Respect that you’re not the expert in their life. You can add to their knowledge. But you’ll never know more about their business than they do.
I may be flat out wrong. But I am allowed to be.
Only a fool thinks they’re right 100% of the time. I know I have had my share of freelance business opportunities I passed on that I shouldn’t have.
Sometimes, I resist good advice because of reasons unknown. I am also allowed to be egotistical and stubborn on occasion.
I am only human and it’s bound to happen sometimes!
But by the same token, I am the person who has to live with that fact. I have to live with poor decisions. It’s my head that keeps me awake when my ego gets the better of me.
I am accountable. I have to take into account the cost of failure just as much as the cost of opportunity. I have to get myself through the tough times and keep motivation when the tank runs dry. I am putting my butt on the line and assuming all the risk.
And that’s why I am allowed to tell you no to your unsolicited ideas.
My business is mine. Isn’t that wonderful?
I don’t care what anyone else says, business is magical. Creating a freelance business and having it turn into something that generates cash and accomplishment is as close to magical as most of us will get.
And it’s that feeling of magic and creation that makes the tough stuff worthwhile.
That’s why you should step off the accelerator and stop trying to drive others in the direction you want them to go. Especially if they don’t want to go that way in the first place.
Stop tainting other people’s ideas by raining on their business parade or using others to validate your business choices.
Honestly, the people who are locked in most with the whole “this is what you should be doing” often seem closest to hating it all and packing up completely. Misery may love company, but honey, that’s not me.
Instead, listen and learn.
We’re unique and different and motivated by vastly different things. Respect my business enough to realise I am my own business expert. Respect yourself enough to take comfort in your own business expertise.
Be comfortable enough in what you do that it doesn’t matter if the whole world doesn’t agree with you.