Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

Freelance confession: We’re only human

This is not so much of a blog post but a confessional.  I’m only human and I’ve made mistakes.  What do I do now?

Before I forget, Happy New Year to all freelancers out there.  Christmas is over now and the New Year gives us fresh opportunity and determination to boost our careers.

Further to my previous post, I followed my own advice and took time to reflect on what has worked well for me this year, and what hasn’t. The main upheaval for me was in June when my spare-time business turned into a fully-fledged company and I stood solely on my own two feet.

The decision to not just grow my first company but launch a second one seemed a good idea at the time.  Because my first business was virtual, its services can reach anyone, anywhere through the wonders of technology.  However, the thinking behind the second one was to tailor these specifically to my local community, as well as adding more services which I believed would be useful to companies in my vicinity.

Stubborn as a mule…

Unfortunately, being stubborn, I convinced myself that this was the way forward – even if it meant ignoring a lot of advice from my business coach.  This stubbornness has now meant I have extremely unproductive parts to my business.  It’s bruising to my ego to admit I made mistakes, but if I don’t acknowledge them, understand why they are mistakes or plan to overcome them, I’ll just continue making them.

Now comes the hard part – but I have to get it off my chest

Mistake 1: I believed that just because I could do something, it would be what people wanted.  It may be that my services really are needed around the globe, but certainly my locality have decided they’ve got along just fine until now without them, thanks.

Mistake 2: I chose my office location out of convenience to me than convenience to my customers.  I’ve seen enough Location, Location, Location shows to understand that being tucked away in a backwater will never get me a passing footfall (which coincidentally, was what the underused services required).  However, I’m not going to beat myself up too much about this one, simply because there’s more to my location than simply being there for my customers.  Work/life balance and lower rents than in the city are just two reasons.

Mistake 3: I started off too big.  I chose a larger, more expensive office because I thought that people would be in and out of my space – working, using my services and equipment, hot desking, etc.  Since launch in September I’ve been sat in a big, draughty, expensive office on my own.

Mistake 4: I believed that a good website was all I needed.  However, I failed to recognise that my target market would not be using the web as much as other people and they would therefore be unlikely to search out my site.

Mistake 5: I didn’t do enough research.  The idea for the add-on, under-used services came from a discussion with some family and friends.  I got carried away with the mechanics of the idea, and on a tide of optimism, believed that was all the research I needed.

The truth doesn’t lie

Wow!  It looks terrible in black and white.  Believe it or not, I had some great sessions with the coach and we made some good decisions too.  However, after many sleepless nights, worrying about where the higher rent would come from, it hasn’t gone too far down the line before I’ve realised things have to change.

First things first, I’m downgrading to an office a third of the size as the one I’m in – and a third of the rent.

I’m spending my time and energy on the business services that do work and putting the ones that aren’t succeeding on a backburner.

I’ve spent time thinking about what problems I could solve for customers, and how I can serve them – not how they can serve me. This has given me scope for other areas in which I could make a difference to others.

In the space of three months my second company looks completely different to the one I launched.  And it looks remarkably like my first company, as all those extras were the things that didn’t take off.

I could just forget about the second company but, after spending precious time and money on the website and branding, I figured it won’t harm just to let sleeping dogs lie and perhaps let it build its own worth.

My first company has actually gone from strength to strength, but because my focus has been elsewhere I’ve probably missed out on loads of opportunities to build on its good name.  Still, now I know where I should be pooling my time, money and energy, this isn’t totally lost.

This post sounds a little negative but I want to reassure you I don’t feel that way.  I’ve stressed many times that the great thing with freelancers is that we can adapt. A month or two in my new mindset and with renewed drive I’ll be in a completely different position again soon.  It won’t be a time of worry as a boss decides my fate, nor do I have to pass motions through a board of suits – I’ve made my decisions on which steps will be the next ones I’ll take and from now, it’s going to be all go!

This is actually very cathartic, to admit that I’ve made mistakes.  We’re all human. It’s how we overcome them and use the experience to shape future decisions that gives us that wonderful thing called experience.  If ever I was asked the terrible interview question: “Tell me of a time in your career where you’ve had to overcome a hurdle – and how you did it,” I’ll be able to bore the recruiter to pieces.  You can’t buy that kind of knowledge.

So, now you’ve read my whole confession, do you think I’ve made irreversible mistakes, or just think I’m on the same learning curve that faces all freelancers and entrepreneurs at some point?

Has your New Year reflections flagged something up in your own business that you are now working to change?  I’d love to know your thoughts.  Please – tell me I’m not alone!

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Written by Editor on January 7, 2011 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Freelancers, Opinion , , ,

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