Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

Freelancers – who do you sound off to?

Your family and friends may give you oodles of support with your freelancing career but do they truly understand what you’re going through?

Who do you sound off to?

I’ve had a strange couple of weeks; as I detailed in my last post, the weather caused the kids’ school to be shut and I worked from home to combine childcare with my writing commitments. Although this didn’t affect me, it did mean my routine was different – therefore it was a relief to get back into my office and concentrate on all those little jobs that had built up.

In the middle of the week I met up with my business coach whom I had not seen since October (not because he’s uncaring or ignorant – it’s the arrangement we have!).

It was a great session – very therapeutic. As regular readers will know, I launched my company in September; the coach and I had many consultations prior to launch to determine the structure of the business and the services I offer.

However, through fate or unconscious influence from me, the business has already started to change direction. Opportunities have come my way that I couldn’t have foreseen when I launched and services I thought would be in demand and sought-after don’t seem to be of particular interest to my clients – at this moment in time.

I needed a second opinion

I won’t lie – it’s been quite unsettling to have spent months honing and deciding exactly what I will offer and to whom, only for it to turn out differently than I planned. If ever I needed confirmation that, as a newly full-time freelancer and entrepreneur, (having been a hobby business/part-timer for more than three years), I’m on a vast learning curve, this was it.

My coach knows what questions to ask – and as someone who’s self-employed himself – has experienced everything that I speak of. He empathises with my worries and reassures me that change is good – as well as showing me how to find a positive opportunity from any given business situation.

After the session I felt drained – but in a good way. I’d had a few light-bulb moments during our talk which left me feeling reflective but inspired – something that had waned a little recently.

My ‘other’ support system…

Then I went home. As usual, my husband said, “How was your meeting?”. I started to briefly go through what the coach and I had discussed until I noticed his eyes glaze over. It was a brief conversation and although it contained, “Well, he’s right” and “You can only try that and see what happens” – I realised that it was a very one-sided conversation.

Undoubtedly, my husband supports me in my business. And I wouldn’t say I don’t sound off to him because I do – even more so when I’ve had a bad day! But the conversation isn’t constructive as my hubby has no idea what I even do day to day, least of all have suggestions at the ready on how to remedy any business problem.

It’s not that he wouldn’t want to, it’s just he’s never been in my position. He mends HGVs for a living – to ask him for entrepreneurial business advice on a virtual assistance and copywriting company, is like me being given a box of spanners and expecting that I would know how to fix an engine problem.

So, who do freelancers turn to?

Employees can go to their supervisors or bosses to find an answer for their work problem – most of the time they’re not expected to think for themselves anyway, just given instructions on how to do the job in hand.

Freelancers have no upper support structure automatically in place, and therefore have to search out people who can provide relevant help.

My advice would be to network – either online or face-to-face – and build relationships with other freelancers who are in your industry. Or do as I do and employ a specialist consultant/coach. There’s no one who could give better advice than someone who has ‘walked the walk’ and learnt from their own mistakes.

I’m so lonely…

Being a freelancer can sometimes be a lonely existence; yes, you have clients to service – some of these may even be dealt with remotely. Even if you do meet them, you want to be seen as an expert to whom they can come if they need advice in the area you cover – it could be extremely detrimental to this ‘expert’ image to start asking them what you should do next with your business! By all means, carry out market research, but your clients are not going to be the ones to hold your hands and guide you through your freelancing career!

Fellow business owners can be a great source of information – as you could be to them too. For all you know, you may have experienced something they have yet to come across and can give them a heads up. Mutual relationships like this are definitely not a waste of time.

Don’t think that networking as a freelancer means building strong links with those that could help your business – a sounding board relationship could help you too.

We know that freelancers are able to adapt to change. However, sometimes changes occur that we may not be quite so comfortable with.

Having someone who can not only listen and understand your worries but give you constructive advice, is an absolute must for every freelancer.

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Written by Editor on December 10, 2010 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, News, Opinion , ,

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