It's been a few years when I decided to quit my "secure" full-time job, took on freelance work and ended up starting my business APEX which allowed me to work with MathWorks, Siemens, Monolith and many more renowned brands.
In this short blog, I want to cover 5 big lessons that I have collected over the years to help guide you on your way of starting your own business - hopefully in the near future.
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- Stress Management: Freelance work itself is not inherently stressful. However, bad processes & systems, mismanaged projects, wrong hires and ineffective client communication can precipitate stressful situations. Acknowledging the responsibilities in self-employment and freelance services, I discovered the need for effective systems, project management and team coordination. And it's not uncommon to work 65+ hours a week, especially when you just started your business and have to figure out tax issues, working on your positioning & messaging to acquire your first clients, finding your first test clients, properly managing existing projects to make sure your clients are always 110% happy and you deliver work they like and deserve. It's certainly stressful but the upside of owning a business usually outweighs the negative aspects of it.
- Financial Dynamics: Earning through freelancing might not always guarantee a stable income, but there's not really a limit on what you can earn as a business owner. While freelance pursuits enabled my transition from the field of engineering into technical marketing as an engineer, diversification became essential which forces you to think about different ways to bring money into your company (courses, 1:1 coaching etc.). My YouTube channel for example provides an alternative revenue stream that supports the cost of software I am using for my business. Of course, money is great and you should never feel ashamed to earn money. However the primary goal should first and foremost be to provide value to your clients and to the world. If you provide value, money will automatically come and it's a great win-win for the parties involved!
- Persistence: The biggest "secret" in marketing is to be omnipresent. That means to publish content on a consistent basis on platforms like YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, via newsletters and a few other places that might come to mind. This visibility can yield an average of 3-20 inquiries each month depending on the niche you're in. There is a clear correlation between content frequency, content quality and lead generation!
- Learning Pace: One upside of owning your business which can also be a big downside is learning from your client. The team at my business almost finds a solution to every marketing & sales problem. But this can also quickly backfire when a client thinks you can solve a problem when you can actually not. You get stuck and need to troubleshoot for couple of days or sometimes even weeks. The pressure is good for personal and professional growth, helps you learn how to solve new & unseen problems and create new solutions rather than giving up or changing the project...or even worse: changing the client! Too much pressure will make you burn out. So be aware of that!
- Flexibility Amplified: With running your own business, my daily life has embraced more flexibility. But you are forced to be very disciplined with your time which means for me to sacrifice other aspects in life like regularly meeting with "friends". I've re-allocated resources to boxing and my family, but this only is possible if you have the right systems and teammates in place! Striking a balance between work and life can substantially enhance your overall well-being. But please not fall into the trap of so-called "business gurus" who tell you that you can build a successful business by spending 4 hours a week on it - that's utter nonsense. 😉
While autonomy and diversified income sources are advantageous, challenges such as sporadic motivation, fluctuations in sales, and isolation occur on a daily or weekly basis.
While this is not an exhaustive guide, I hope I could at least give you some insights into my freelancing / business life.
I'm in the process of compiling parts of my knowledge into a free Skillshare class and offer ongoing personal coaching with weekly meetings to help you launch & scale up your hobby or side-hustle to 4-6 figures a MONTH - for questions, feel free to ping me on Instagram.
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Keep engineering your business! ❤️