The Coronavirus pandemic has changed nearly everyone’s work situation, whether you are laid-off, furloughed, working from home, or suddenly finding your job obsolete. I know this may carry a huge financial burden, but the ‘silver lining’ that I’ve seen is the opportunity that’s emerged for passionate people to create what they’ve always wanted to create, especially when it comes to work. Personally, I have been overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the number of people in my wider circle who are starting businesses, or pursuing a freelancing career. I took baby steps over the course of a decade to get to the place I am now- year 3 of full-time self-employment- and here are some things I wish I had taken to heart when I was starting out!
1. Put yourself out there. Ok, this seems obvious but also not so obvious. The most profound shift happened for me in my business when finally (after years of side-freelancing) created my website, a logo, a Facebook page and proudly announced to the world (well, mainly my friends on Facebook) that Jess Parvin Designs is open for business. Seriously, just putting up a virtual “open for business” sign made all the difference in the world, and I got several clients right away from my larger “friend” pool. Even if you don’t have a website or branding yet, it is easy to create some sort of graphic, downloadable pdf, or just a social media post that explains what you do and what kind of clients you are looking for. In fact, one of the first steps I would take is to create an email signature that looks professional and tells people what you do (ideally with a logo and website or social media link). One of my first clients (when I went solo full-time) met me when I sold her a clothing rack on Craigslist, and during our email exchange she saw that I was a web designer (thanks to the signature at the bottom of all my emails). Turns out, she had just started an online business and needed a website! She hired me, and 3 years later I still work with her on a monthly basis.
2. Talk to EVERYONE. I’m an introvert, so it’s not my natural inclination to start up conversations with strangers, reach out to friends-of-friends for advice or attend akward networking events where I don’t know anyone. BUT there have been several times when I have gone out of my comfort zone and it’s paid off big time. You just never know who you’re going to meet or what amazing piece of insight that stranger has that could change your life. I’m not saying you have to randomly walk up to people at a coffee shop (in fact, if you’re reading this during COVID-19 quarrantine, that might be impossible), but you can be curious about people that you meet, and about people you already know. Also I am sure that there are people in your circle (or your circle’s circle) that you know have some experience you can learn from. Remember: It never hurts to ask!
3. READ! I think a healthy balance of talking to people and reading is the key to triggering growth. Since launching my business, I have devoured dozens of books on personal & professional development. In fact, I was recently inspired to create a page of book recommendations for other entrepreneurs! So if you’re looking for a good read, that will also help you on your path to professional growth, check out my list!
4. Coaching, Accountability & Community. So you’ve tapped in to all the resources around you and launched your business. . . Now what? No man (or woman) is an island, so if you haven’t already, I highly suggest building or tapping in to a network of like-minded entrepreneurs or freelancers. I have benefited more than I can say from several groups I have joined and created. The easiest way to find a community, is to search for and join relevant Facebook groups. I am a member of several FB groups for women entrepreneurs, freelancers, designers, etc., though I think there are only 2 or 3 that frequently post to, including one that I started for Women Entrepreneurs in Madison. But even more than a virtual community, I think face-to-face (or atleast Zoom-to-Zoom) interaction is very important. Find networking groups in your area, or reach out to people who are also starting a business and create an accountability group. I guarantee you will be 100% more productive if you have accountability buddies! Finally, if you’re really looking to gain some serious momentum, hiring a one-on-one coach is invaluable. You don’t know what you don’t know, so having others to point out your pitfalls and blind spots is necessary (as uncomfortable as it may be). And DO NOT rely on your spouse, best friend or anyone in your super close inner-cirlce to give you business advice or hold you accountable to your goals. They are biased, and may not be totally honest with you when you need them to be. Plus if they steer you in a direction that doesn’t work out, you might be resentful. You must have someone you can talk business with who can give you an un-biased, educated opinion.
Ready to get to work and create some serious momentum?
If you want to talk through all of this and more, consider scheduling an in-depth consultation and audit of your existing online presence with me! We will spend up to 2 hours talking (via Skype, Zoom, Facetime, or phone) about what the bigger picture of your business is and how to take a holistic approach to improving it. What’s currently working and not working? Who are your ideal clients and how do you reach them online? What services can you add or highlight that support your clients online?
We’ll look at existing branding, your website/ web presence, SEO (Google ranking), Social Media, etc. and make a comprehensive plan for how to move forward. I will answer any questions you have and give you honest, useful feedback on building your brand and increasing revenue.
Cost: $200 (but if we decide to move forward with a contracted website, branding or marketing project, this amount will be put towards the final invoice)
Ongoing consulting packages are also available!