I’m brand spankin’ new to working for myself, and it’s harder than I thought. I’ve spent some quality time with my self-employed brethren (and other hipster-folk) in 47 San Francisco cafes, running my business one day at a time, and 94 lattes later, I have a few grievances I’d like to air.
1. Calls are hard. Before you get on the phone, know exactly what you want to get out of every phone call. Write it down. Say it out loud to yourself. If nothing comes to mind, cancel the call or keep it under 5 minutes.
2. To-do lists are hard. When it’s just you, or you and a partner, the list of things you need to get done never ends. Be thoughtful about what you want to accomplish every week, and break it down by day. I like to ask, “If I only get one thing done today, what should it be?” You’ll quickly find you’re creating noise and busy work for yourself. Do stuff that matters — only.
3. Partnerships are hard. You need to build partnerships in a scalable way. That means boiling down your pitch and re-purposing it where you can, consolidating your marketing materials, and knowing like the back of your hand the criteria that define a strategic partner for you.
4. Budgeting is hard. Spending money isn’t as much fun when it’s your bank account, not a big corporate budget, at stake. You’ve got to choose where to invest and where to be frugal, so know well the difference between shopping and working.
5. Networking is hard. Set a goal of reaching out to 3-5 new people every day. Scour your CRM, your LinkedIn and social media profiles, and think about your business & personal past. You’ll come up with some smart, well-connected folks who can probably help you (and you can likely help them, too). At least one of them, every day, will write or call you back.
6. Integrity is hard. But you need to have it. Do what you say you’re going to do and hold yourself accountable. Deliver for your customers and partners, even when it hurts. Be respectful of your vendors. Your business, like your personal life, runs on values.
You know as well as I do that the list goes on. We grapple with focus, begrudgingly accept that building things takes longer than we want it to, and occasionally make a mess. I don’t have the answers — far from it — but I’ve found it helpful to be honest with myself and others, create a culture of discipline, lean heavily on values and ask questions.
Please submit your complaints to the complaint department (read: leave them in the comments :)).
This is a guest post by Igor, check out our guest posting guidelines to submit a post.
Image Credit: Rojojam .