Things I've Learned About Freelancing This Week

Coming into the fifth year of my consulting business, I'm continuing to learn more and more to hone in on the type of business I want to have.

1. Taking time is essential

Coming into the new year was the perfect time to step back and think about how I was going to take better control of the destiny of the business. Lots of post-it note brainstorming ensued with a review of what worked and could have been done better over the past year, and then laying out specific things I wanted to achieve with a bunch of ideas on how to achieve them.

I developed a regular habit of listening to books and reading articles to further stretch and put context to my ideas. This happened over several weeks on and off and at times made me feel a little nervous that I was wasting time or just putting off the real task at hand of seeking out new clients. But every time I thought I should start contacting my network, I was unclear on what work I wanted to seek. So that thinking time was absolutely necessary to enable me to answer that question.

It eventually allowed me to focus in on a very clear goal and specific product which I’m now going to put all my energy and some investment into delivering on a very tight timeline.

2. Ideas come when you’re not working

In the shower, cooking, drawing, putting the washing on, yoga class, even watching TV. All the things I used to think of as procrastination tactics when working from home, are actually critical to the ability of the brain to percolate information and create ideas in the background.

Getting told off by my yogi for not concentrating in class was kind of embarrassing but when I actually do make myself concentrate on the moment I’m in, an hour and a half of complete mindfulness; a feeling of reinvigoration and the ability to be more productive and focused comes hand in hand.

When my toddler woke an hour early from her nap, I could have either given up on that 2 hour window to concentrate on work or try to continue working while she was awake (pretty much impossible). But instead I sat quietly and patiently with her. I concentrated purely on her, which brought on the idea for this post and gave me an extra hour of work time as she fell back to sleep.

3. Peers are better than mentors

When I felt I had a solid product concept and had done enough background work on the benefits and possible barriers to success, it was time to bite the bullet; I turned to two trusted peers first. One, a passionate marketer whom I had given her first London career break 5 years earlier. Two, my best friend, financial whizz and business analyst.

There was a few advantages of going to friends first. It helped me to explain the idea out loud without worrying about messing up or looking stupid. It was also certain I wasn’t going to get a negative reaction, which may sound like a cop out but actually the chance to say it out loud, tells you whether you have a good idea or not. If you’re true to yourself you don’t need someone else to tell you you have a bad idea. You’ll know.

I noticed also that there is a definite difference in reaction when an idea is genuinely good. When an idea is half formed or just not very inspiring, a response from friends can be politely complimentary but that’s about it. And I’ve certainly had my fair share of those situations over the years as someone who is always having ideas. But when it’s properly good, the reaction is palpable. They have new ideas on how to make it even better, they challenge it and start thinking of ways it could really come to life. And, most importantly to me, they’ll want to get involved.

That’s what happened this time and it’s got me bouncing off the walls with excitement for what’s to come next. It means now I can’t wait to start talking to more of my network and getting more people on board to make this happen.