#139: A Solo Biz Retreat After a Struggling Summer

Trigger warnings: pet death, pet euthanasia, pet illness, grief over the death of a loved one, anxiety, bike accident

I’m back! Back from my extra-long summer hiatus—longer than I expected or planned for. In this episode, I explain why it took me so long to return and share the grief, anxiety and other mental health struggles I’ve been dealing with this summer. 

If you are dealing with grief or anxiety or similar feelings, scroll down for some links to previous Deliberate Freelancer episodes that deal with these issues, including interviews with therapists. This, obviously, does not replace mental health counseling, and I am not an expert, but you might find these episodes soothing or helpful in dealing with your struggles. 

I sought out a new therapist this summer who said something I couldn’t believe that I’d never heard before: Anxiety can be a symptom of grief. My cat’s death in April, it seems, was affecting me in multiple ways and leading to my newfound anxiety this summer.

After a horrible summer 2022, I am ready for a new season. In the U.S., Labor Day signifies the end of summer and gives nearly all of us a “back to school” feeling. So, I am embracing a new season and bidding farewell to a sucky summer.

What better way to start off this new season than with a solo business retreat?! In the second half of this episode, I will walk you through what I did—and what I learned—during this week’s solo business retreat from my dining room. 

I started my retreat with a SWOT analysis. SWOT is a business term that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Corporations and organizations use the strategy, but you can certainly do it as an individual. I find it’s a good way to remind yourself what you’re great at, and for us, that means what our business should be focused on, as well as where we could improve. 

Listing out your weaknesses is not an opportunity to beat yourself up. Instead, it might show where you need to improve or delegate, automate or terminate aspects of your business. See link to episode 26 below for more details on how to do this. 

Instead of doing an analysis of Q2 this late in the year, I analyzed where my income came from for the entire year so far. I was going to rate and rank my clients—a tactic I highly recommend—but listing out all my clients showed me that I love all of them this year! Don’t roll your eyes. This is not me being too Pollyannaish. It was not a happy accident, either. I have worked hard these past nine years of freelancing to truly analyze what work I accept, who I want to work with, what to charge and when to cut clients loose. And I finally hit a 100% happy success rate! 

To rate and rank your client: Make a list of all your clients. Create your own personal ranking system for a variety of things that are important to you, such as great to work with, pays well, pays on time, no scope creep, no phone calls, etc. Then, rank each client on a scale of 1–5. After you rank them, put them in order with the highest ranking at the top. Who’s on the bottom? Should you keep those clients that rank so low? How can you get more work from the clients—or the type of clients—that rank the highest? 

Feeling so scattered this summer, I wanted to get ahold of my days and weeks again and create the perfect work day and perfect work week. No Meeting Mondays and Half-Day Fridays have been working great for me, so I’m keeping those. It’s the Tuesday through Thursday I need to get a better handle on. See episode 19’s link below for tips on how to create your perfect work day.

Biz Bite: Set a hurdle rate

The Bookshelf: Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting” by Clare Pooley 

Resources:

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