Being your own boss can be incredibly rewarding. You get to decide everything - the hours you work, the clients you work with, how much you charge, and when to close your laptop and call it a day. However, when the buck always lies with you and only you, some days these privileges can feel incredibly overwhelming. How many hours should I be working? Who am I aiming my work at and how do I get it in front of them? How much should I be charging clients? I’m tired but should I be working more? Self-employment is a constant head battle.
"Chip away at things gradually."
Those first few weeks of starting out, in particular, are very daunting. Okay, you’ve decided you want to work for yourself but… what now? How do you actually start? What’s the very first step? How do you find people who are actually in need of your creative skills, and who are willing to pay a decent buck for it? What if no one EVER commissions you? What if you try your very best to get your work out there every single day for the next FIVE years but end up with absolutely nothing to show for it?!
You’ve overwhelmed yourself before you’ve even begun.
The answer is slow down. Setting up your own business takes time. In fact, alot more time than people think! But then again, no one is expecting you to succeed straight away. You have to realise that nothing incredible is going to happen immediately. Your business will not become an overnight success. Your dream client is not going to pop up in your inbox tomorrow. But with that being said, it shouldn't discourage or dishearten you. It's just to give you perspective. All you need to think about at this stage is what can happen between now and tomorrow morning. One small thing. Just make one step in the right direction. For example, you can decide on the theme of your website. You can order yourself some business cards. You can look for events in your area that give advice to small business start-ups. You can email that guy that you once talked to briefly who said he might know someone who would be interested in your work. And then guess what? Tomorrow you can do another productive task just like you did today. And the next day you can do two more. And so on and so forth. In a few months time you’ll have something to show for your efforts.
"There’s going to be someone out there who's interested in your work. You just need to take some time to find them."
So don’t overwhelm yourself with the next five years of your life. Focus on the next five minutes. What are you going to do between now and next week that is going to make a difference? What tiny seeds can you plant to help your business grow? And more importantly ~think~ are you going to enjoy it? Because if you’re not going to enjoy the process of starting up your own business then why are you doing it?! This is actually the part of the process that you ought to be enjoying the most. You have no clients on your back just yet, demanding tomorrow’s task today. And you have no employees whose wages you need to ensure you can pay on time. Time is on your side. Trust me, it is. You can focus on personal projects to build your portfolio. You can develop your software skills. You can get in touch with people whose work you’ve always admired and just have a conversation. See where it goes. And if they don’t reply, write to someone else. There’s going to be someone out there who's interested in your work. You just need to take some time to find them.
So try not to feel too overwhelmed about this ~huge mountain~ in front of you. Instead, try to enjoy the climb. And don’t give yourself too much to do tomorrow. Not everything needs to be done straight away. Chip away at things gradually. Things will fall into place eventually. You just need to be patient and work hard.