I’ve just been on a Facebook Live with Marina Gask, founder of Audrey Online, all about becoming a freelancer and how to create your own freelance journey, that’s grounded in your own values and that will, long term, help you stay consistent and confident in running your own business.
You can watch the catch-up of the Live as well as read my thoughts in this Audrey Online article, What no-one tells you about running your own business.
One thing we discussed was about giving yourself permission, especially as women, to say Yes, I am a freelancer, Yes, I am a professional!
How to set boundaries as a freelancer so that you’re treated with respect by clients, valued by them and can be PROFESSIONAL!
It comes down to 3 things for me:
INSTINCT – MINDSET – SYSTEMS
Instinct isn’t just woowoo, there’s some interesting research out there now about how instinct is REAL! When approaching a client or being approached by a prospective client, take the time to recognise your reaction to them, on a physical and emotional level. For me, my instinctual reactions come with my gut and solar plexus – that squirmy feeling there if a ‘bad’ potential client, that ‘bubbly’ feeling there if my reaction to them is good. Work out where on a physical level you experience your instinctual reactions or is it specific emotions that arise?
Be guided by your instincts. That feeling or emotion can save you a lot of stress in the long-term say, for instance, you ignoring your instinctual reaction and taking on a client that proves to be overly demanding, wanting to get a lot for very little, just plain painfully hard work!
Especially if you’ve come out of working for other people and have had a hard time, you might need to spend some time recognising and trusting your own instincts again now that you’re working for yourself. John Niland’s book, The Self-Worth Safari (affiliate link) might help you learn to trust yourself again.
But, don’t forget that we all have cognitive biases so recognise as well if your instinctual reaction is being distorted by your own biases, beliefs, views.
Giving yourself permission to say “I run my own business, I am a professional”. This can feel hard to do, again particularly if you’ve recently left a lot of shit working for a company. Allow yourself to be in your growth mindset for your business – there isn’t a one perfect freelance business, you’re going to be learning, reflecting, making mistakes as you go along and THAT’S OKAY! Also, take some time to reflect on your thoughts on money – are you in a scarcity mindset (I must make money right now as I need it so I’ll take on any client going) or can you plan out your annual budget, look at how much you need to make to survive plus how much you want to make to be able to have a good lifestyle in 10, 20, 30 years time (don’t forget your pension!). Getting more comfortable thinking and talking about money will also help you be more professional with clients – once you know your own value, you’re more likely to stick to rates that work for you, more likely to communicate to clients that, if they want additional work, it will be xx amount and feel more confident chasing owed payments. Which leads us on to the 3rd thing on being professional and creating your own freelance journey your way.
Right from the start of your relationship with a client, having systems in place for rates, correspondence, terms and conditions, payment terms, proposals, briefs; all of these means that you are in charge of your own business, you’re as professional as your clients. Remember, just because a client may be bigger than you, doesn’t mean they’re BIGGER than you – we’re all human beings so be as clear in your communication as possible, have systems in place so everything is timely as well. How you do this is up to you – I do my own book-keeping so I have excel sheets for sales, expenses, cashflow forecast as well as calendar reminders for chasing proposal agreements, sending invoices, chasing payments as well as templates for proposals and project agreements, including terms and conditions. I have a lead management system using Hubspot CRM, I use Trello as well for leads and for project timelines. Having systems in place stops you being on the backfoot and feeling like you’re a servant to your clients. You’re working WITH them, not FOR them (that was your old PAYE life!).
If your brain just says UGH to systems, what can you outsource, to a VA, to an accountant, to a lawyer?
There’s so much else to dive into with starting your own business: figuring out your audience, setting your rates, marketing, feeling confident to make amendments when the client insists you sign their contract rather than the other way round.
In 2022, I’m going to be launching a Scaredycat Freelancers online course looking at all things freelance so join the Scaredycat Crew to hear about the launch first.
In the meantime, do you feel confident setting your own rates? Are you charging too little? Here’s a link to the Value Proposition Canvas, a great tool for figuring out exactly what value you can bring to your prospective clients.