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We passed my six months full time mark earlier this month (woo!) and I thought I should share with you six lessons I’ve learned over the past six months of doin’ this thing full time. As some of you may know, I went full time on December 1 of last year. Technically I guess it was December 2, because on December 1 my cat, all my belongings, and I drove the 7 hours from my hometown to Charleston, South Carolina. My leap into full time wasn’t very well planned out. I was leaving a part of my life behind in a rush and with the support of my parents managed to move all my crap from southwest Florida to central Florida (my hometown) on a Friday and then turn around and bring it all up to Charleston on a Monday. This came with a solid two weeks of planning before hand (when I put in my two weeks notice). So… a leap of faith, or stupidity, launched me into full time.
My goal was to find a job in Charleston. It really was. At least something part time. But December hit and things just started…working out. Falling into place, if you will. Granted, I wasn’t paying rent or utilities at first (crashing with my sister was so, so nice), but still… things were working. So I didn’t find a part time job, I just kept chugging away at TheCrownFox.
In February I moved into my own place and thought, okay, now I’ll find a part time job. But things just kept working and I was busy, and booked, so I didn’t. It’s been an interesting transition, to be honest. In the same way that freelance has the “feast and famine” danger, my mindset has the “feast and famine” danger too. It’s been a real personal battle figuring out my weaknesses (sticking to a schedule) and my strengths (interacting with clients). But six months in I can say this: I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in a really, really long time and I’m not too worried about how it’s all going to work out. Which for a worrier is a pretty good feeling.
Here’s six things I’ve learned over the past six months that hopefully help you in your own business.
MAKE A SCHEDULE
Hi, so important. It is the easiest thing in the entire world to waste an entire day if you don’t have a schedule. You’ll be “working” on something (non-important, like updating the icons on your sales page) and suddenly it’s 4:00pm and you’re like “what did I even DO today?!”
Make a schedule. Then actually STICK to it. I get really intense with my schedule because it’s very easy for me to make excuses or find something that suddenly becomes very important (it never is). I break down into 15 minute blocks what I should be doing every day. I make myself literally write it down on a piece of paper to hold myself accountable. If you have the tendency to fall on the lazy side (hi, I live in the most fun city ever, it’s easy to get distracted) then be strict, be regimented, and be intense with yourself.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO (OR NOT RIGHT NOW)
I ran into this issue in March/April of this year. I said yes to EVERYTHING. I overbooked myself client wise because I was too afraid to say no to a project or tell them I could work with them on a projected date. Instead I just slammed my schedule so full that I was panicking all the time about getting things done, and making time for blog posts, and other content creation. My business saw a dip overall because I was less accessible during those times, and it has honestly been a struggle to get back on the bandwagon since then in some instances – like making time to be present on social media and growing/fostering relationships.
So my advice for you is this: it’s okay to tell a potential client that xyz is your availability. If they are going to work with you, then they are going to work with you. You have to focus on doing what you can, when you can.
CREATE INCOME STREAMS
In our world “feast and famine” is a real thing and it’s really scary. Especially if you just up and quit with no real savings base (woo). The best thing to do is to get some money coming in from other avenues. Host a masterclass (I’ve done two: Systemize Your Branding and 404 Page Masterclass). Affiliate for companies you use and love. Create Ebooks (I’ve got two of those too: Building Your Base and Content Creation). Sell templates on Etsy. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be business related – babysit some kids in the afternoon, or drive Uber at night. Just make sure that you don’t have to feel that pit in your stomach when a client doesn’t book and wonder how you are going to pay rent.
In our world creating a course is a very popular income stream. I think creating a course is a phenomenal idea but I will say from my own personal experience that you should be prepared for A LOT of upfront work in creating course and the potential of a crash and burn. I tried to unsuccessfully launch a course earlier this year and am still licking my wounds a little bit, because I was (and still am) convinced it’s a good idea. But that being said, there’s a lot of ways that positioning, timing, reach, etc. all come into play, so even if a course doesn’t work out on round 1, doesn’t mean it’s a total lost cause. I say this to say that if you are HARD UP for money and getting worried about bills, I wouldn’t start with a course. I’d start introducing your value in smaller scales first so that people come to associate your name with good products, quality information, and actionable content. This might seem like a controversial statement, but I am basing that 100% on my own experience.
Here’s one that is essential to your sanity. Even on your hardest, busiest day – take a breather. Even if it’s just a 10-minute walk around the block or a trip to the drugstore – do something else. Let your mind wander a bit. Nothing adds to stress like being immersed in a stressful situation all day. You started working for yourself for freedom, right? Give yourself some.
If you’ve already acknowledged your ability to get distracted (like me, ahem) then make sure you schedule your breaks in a way that they end at a certain time. So a yoga class that has a definitive end is a good solution. A show on Hulu that rolls right into the next one is not a good solution. Take smart breaks.
FIND OTHER PASSIONS
Building off of breaks, it’s also a good idea to develop an interest outside of your business. For starters, your friends are going to get really bored of hearing you talk about blogging and Pinterest and things that don’t make any sense to them. But more importantly, you can’t lose your life (or the freedom) to sitting at a desk all day. That’s the opposite of why you got into this! So find other passions and make time to enjoy those.
Your mind will thank you, your work ethic will thank you, and you will find it easier to stick to a schedule when you know you have to finish something so that you can go enjoy your new underwater basketweaving hobby (or whatever it is you take up). I’ve been trying to find my other passions in the form of some sort of physical exercise these past few months – I’ve tried Barre (and I love it!), running (I really want to love it, but ugh), and strength training (weirdly my left arm is stronger than my right arm). It’s nice to walk away from work and focus on something else entirely. In the same way that the best ideas come to you in the shower or at 2 in the morning, some of my best ideas recently have come while I’m focusing on not falling over while trying to run.
ALWAYS BE LOOKING FOR CLIENTS
So, here’s something that I’ve learned the hard way. Three times. I don’t carry business cards around with me because I have always worked online, with online clients. That’s bitten me in the butt now THREE TIMES. You think I would’ve learned after the first time, right? Nope.
This is a big one – when you are out there finding your other passions, taking breaks, etc. still be looking for clients. Everywhere. Because they are everywhere. I still get a little awkward when people ask me what I do because I feel really young and silly being like “I own my own business.” But why should I? I own my own business. That’s SO cool. I’ve been working on being more confident in saying that (and carrying business cards) so that I can constantly be looking for clients and bringing in inquiries.
Phew. This ended up much longer than I realized. What have you learned in your fulltime boss mode lately? I’d love to hear. Let me know in the comments below what new discoveries you’ve made lately!