On today’s episode, I’m leaning in to the theme of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. and sharing seven things I am thankful for in my business. Beyond just telling you about these things, I’m sharing why I’m thankful and asking questions to you that I hope will prompt you to think about how to improve your business life.
Thinking about my business this way got me thinking about how I should be building a joyful business in all things that I do. So, as I go through my list, I hope it helps you think about things you are thankful for and perhaps want to change moving forward so you can build a more joyful business.
#1. Complete freedom.
When I decided to go freelance, I looked forward to being my own boss more than anything, but I didn’t fully grasp the complete freedom I would have as a freelancer.
Work is still work. But, I have a lot of control over my business—who I work with, when I work, how I work, where I work and what I work on. I worry that some freelancers haven’t fully embraced this freedom or forget about it every now and then.
I see way too many people working too many hours. Why are we freelancing if not for the freedom in it? You are in charge of your business, for the most part. Shouldn’t freedom be the goal in everything we do?
Are you working with clients you want to work with? Are you working on projects you enjoy? If not, why not? If you are working with clients you don’t love or in an area that doesn’t fascinate you, maybe it’s time to at least start planning on how to find better clients or change your services or niche. Freedom! That’s what I’m really, truly thankful for.
#2. My clients.
I am at a place where I’m really happy with the mix of clients I have. It has always been my goal to work with kind people, fun people, people I respect and who respect me. That is really important to me. I have no time for people who are passive-aggressive, make snide remarks, throw me under the bus, demand unreasonable requests. Again, freedom. Why would I want to work with those people?
Maybe kindness is important to you, but maybe there are other aspects of clients that are really important to you. What types of clients would you like to work with? What is it about your greatest clients that you really love?
Now is also a good time to think about how to thank your clients. Do you send holiday cards or gifts to your best clients? I’ve done this from time to time, and though I usually do it at this time of year, I also love the idea of doing it at surprising times, like sending a thank-you gift after a big project or just randomly in mid-summer—Christmas in July!
If you can find out a bit about your client, you can find more personalized gifts, but I have a few go-tos when I’m not sure what to get people. See the links in Resources below.
#3. Great sources or subject matter experts.
Because I’ve really honed in on my niche and I love my niche, I love the sources I get to interview. I’m almost always interested in what they have to say and often quite fascinated.
I’m very thankful that my job requires me to interview people. I can’t believe I get paid to talk to people and have the honor of telling their stories!
I absolutely love the process of interviewing. I love the discovery process of when a source says something that leads me to ask a new question or go down a different path or ask them to expound or explain.
I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of having fascinating conversations with medical professionals so I can then write great stories. I’m thankful every day that interviewing is a large part of my work.
What do you absolutely love to do in your work? Do you get to do enough of it? How can you make changes in your business so you get to do more of that?
#5. The ability to change my mind and to scale back.
As an employee, projects or new ideas were often thrusted upon me, and I couldn’t just quit them whenever I wanted.
But in my business, I can change my mind all the time! I didn’t fully appreciate this when I started out. I had this idea that I was going to offer these certain services and that was it. And while I stopped providing social media services early on, I still don’t think I realized at that time that my business could have multiple evolutions over the years.
I can do whatever I want!
At some point, I also realized I could scale back. It’s OK to be a “company of one,” as author Paul Jarvis calls it in his book. His book and podcast really validated the fact that I didn’t want to have employees or multiple subcontractors. I didn’t want to become an agency.
It also helped me this past year as I thought it was time to create courses. I realized I really don’t want to create courses right now. Maybe in the future, but I’m not feeling that urge right now. I’m just not interested. And that’s OK!
I can change my mind, scale back, stay at status quote, not push myself to grow and grow. I’m really thankful for that.
I think it’s important for freelancers to realize we don’t have to work all the time and constantly add new services.
#6. This entrepreneurial mindset.
I never anticipated this when I went freelance, but I love that I’m constantly brainstorming, analyzing and thinking of new ideas for my business. I never imagined or thought of myself as an entrepreneur before I launched my own business.
But I absolutely love the business side and entrepreneurial side of freelancing. I love considering where I want my business to go and how I’m going to make it happen. I love coming up with new ideas and trying them out. I’m thankful that I have such wide parameters that give me the freedom to go in almost any direction. I love being an entrepreneur. It sparks my creativity and keeps me energized.
#7 My freelance community.
Thank you to my podcast listeners. Thank you to my larger community of writers, editors and other freelancers. Perhaps I could still be a successful freelancer without my community, but it would be much harder and very, very lonely.
My community is there when I have questions, need to vent with people who will understand or want to run ideas by them.
I get to nerd out with other editors and share great moments in writing with other writers.
When I became a freelancer, I didn’t fully grasp how important relationship-building and having my community would be. It has been important both to my work—people send me referrals and give me great advice—but it has also been important to my spirit and my mental health. So, I am very thankful for you.
Biz Bite: Schedule breaks for 2022
The Bookshelf: “Never Saw Me Coming” by Vera Kurian
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American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) fall membership drive. Use the code: 2021FALLDRIVE
Episode #98 of Deliberate Freelancer: Six-Figure Freelancing: The Benefits of Selling Strategy and Outcomes, with Austin Church
Austin Church’s Fix Your Pricing Masterclass
“Company of One” by Paul Jarvis (book)