Here at Laura Smith Writer HQ things have reached a bit of a slump lately. I’m sure every piece of start-up and business advice would go against admitting that. Business owners are meant to be upbeat, positive and busy all of the time, if not to be successful then at least to appear to be. Nobody wants to hire anyone who doesn’t fall into those categories, right?
But the truth is, business is hard. It’s an uphill struggle when you’re an independent freelancer working from your study at home, competing against big name companies which can afford to woo new clients with champagne and fancy lunches. So it’s time to stop pretending, and to acknowledge that fact. But here’s the important bit – I’m carrying on regardless.
When I gave up my job to return to freelance writing nearly 12 months ago, amongst the congrats and the ‘you go, girl!’ support from my friends and peers, were some that thought beyond the business realm and questioned the social aspect: “Won’t you miss working with other people? I’d go crazy not speaking to anyone all day!” That kind of thing. And no, this didn’t bother me, not at first. I had an exciting business idea in one hand, and the motivation to see it through in the other. Then about nine months in the doubt popped up.
Things had gone well – my business advisor told me I was seeing more success than 75% of start-ups locally. Only now I was feeling the need for that reassurance we can only get from people we work with. And who do I work with? Me. After fumbling around inside my own head for a while and considering going back to the safety net of employment, things came to a bit of a standstill. I was no longer as busy as I was in the early days and new clients seemed harder to reach. But with all down periods come a small glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, and here mine was, shining ever so slightly through the grey sky outside.
Sometimes you have to rely on something else to prompt this, and other times a stern word in your own ear can do the trick. Here’s my advice on pulling yourself together, and getting your business back on track:
- Don’t work in the present. Today might be a slow day, but think about the future. The project you set out to focus on has still to happen and its success can only lay in the coming days, weeks and months. Think about any evidence you have to support the fact that this can and will still happen.
- Look through your emails. Remind yourself of some really encouraging conversations and begin some more.
- Don’t assume everyone has heard of you. You might have heard of them, but that’s not to say they know who you are. Introduce yourself, reintroduce yourself and meet new people. New contacts are new opportunities.
- Remember why you started: this point can be found in pretty much every motivational blog post ever written, but it’s there for a reason. How much did you really hate your job? Would you honestly want it back? How excited were you over your idea? What sort of lifestyle are you trying to achieve for yourself and your family through your own means?
- Picture the future. Whatever that lifestyle is that you want – imagine it being here. Sitting on a tropical beach every summer, or having the flexibility to spend time with your kids might be a dream right now, but you have to drag it into reality at some point. There’s no time like the present.
For anyone struggling to motivate themselves right now, please don’t give up. There’s nothing like being your own boss (however isolating it can be) which tells us we’re doing the right thing. Picture the worst job you ever had, or think of someone who hates what they do. Would you trade places? Of course not. You love what you do. You’re just having a bad day and that’s allowed. Now make a cup of tea, and bloody get on with it.
*Please say hello if this post has resonated at any point. As I say, freelancing can be isolating, and it’s nice to hear from others sometimes.*