I share a common problem with most business owners, freelancers, and service providers I know. I care a lot more about marketing for my clients than I do for me.
I tell my clients is that consistency is critical when it comes to marketing, so Floof is scoring at about an F-minus on that metric. (I suppose I could do a blog every 1.5-years, for consistencies sake. Again... would not recommend...)
I also tell my clients that if something isn't working for you, don't try to make it work just because everyone else is doing it. So, I suppose I'll cut myself some slack. I'm probably never going to find time to blog every week... or month... or year, for that matter.
And I'm not going to feel guilty about it, either, because I genuinely can't believe how well things have taken off since I took the big leap and decided to go it on my own - and I don't think my one measly blog post had anything to do with it!
So, I guess it's a good time for a little update on how things are going and what I've learned over the last year-and-a-half. Let's start with a few questions I get from almost everyone I know:
How is your business doing?
Ya know what... GREAT! I get paid to do work that I enjoy with some of the best people on the planet.
When I started Floof, I never intended to grow it into anything more than just me. But as a recovering "Yes Woman" I very quickly took on more than just little 'ol me could handle. Luckily, I've met some fantastic freelancers and hustlers who have totally stepped in and helped me both expand my services and keep my sanity.
Work is consistent. People are great. Clients are happy, and I am too. Oh and I can afford to live & eat, which is the point, right?
Business is good.
What do you do all day?
I think my Mom stopped sending me full-time job postings somewhere around mid-2017. I also distinctly remember her asking me, "So, what DO you do?" I think she gets it now, and frankly, she's just happy I'm not driving for Lyft/Uber to make the mortgage payment anymore.
My clients tend to fall into three categories:
- We know marketing is important, but we don't want to do it ourselves. Let's have Robin help us.
- We are overwhelmed with how much [marketing, fundraising, organizing, selling] needs to be done and always playing catch up. Let's have Robin help us.
- We have an excellent product/service but no idea how to get our market to buy it. Let's have Robin help us.
So... I spend most of my days helping my clients get strategic, organized, and productive with their sales, marketing, and fundraising efforts.
Also, I take walks with my dog.
Is it awesome?
Most days... YES! I love the flexibility of working for myself. I love that I can work from anywhere. I love making my clients happy. I love that they don't care where I work as long as the work gets done. I love the wins. I love getting paid for work I was proud to do. I love doing my laundry while I'm working and taking my dog for a walk at 2pm just because a break sounds nice and "it's so nice out."
But if I'm being really honest?
It's not always awesome.
As an extrovert, working from home can be downright draining. I miss the energy of an office. I miss having coworkers to go to lunch with and get to know. I require people to help fill up my batteries, but I'm alone most of the time.
I have a very collaborative work style. I like to brainstorm and bounce ideas off of other people. I have a hard time getting creative when I'm by myself, and I'm by myself a lot.
I'm a big-picture thinker, but a lot of my job is getting into the details. Managing accounting (ugh), updating spreadsheets, reports. I'm NOT a fan. But these are necessary things to ensure that both my business and my clients continue to thrive.
And speaking of accounting... cash-flow is a real bummer! Sometimes your clients don't pay you consistently. Sometimes a client just doesn't work out. Sometimes you think you saved enough for taxes and then completely drain your bank account and have nothing left over to pay yourself. I never appreciated steady paychecks when I got them, but boy do I miss them now!
What have I learned?
There is so much. So, so much.
But in the interest of not writing the next great American novel, I'll list the top 3:
1. Take care of Robin.
Today was the first day in a long time that I've felt energized and creative in a while. I've been doing so much detail & process work that I've been creatively drained. I've gone to bed with a headache almost every night. I was starting to dread brainstorming sessions (which we've established that I LOVE) because my brain just. couldn't. do it.
I've also been staying up too late, not taking the dog for walks, and eating like I'm still 16. (16-year-old-Robin survived on a steady diet of Taco Bell, Steak n' Shake, and Panera French Bread, btw.)
In this job, unlike any other that I've had, I HAVE to take care of my sweet self, and that means tending to my mind, my body, and my soul.
And maybe it's a late-30s thing, but in no other time in my life have I connected the dots between how not taking care of one really affects the others.
2. Be okay with turning down work.
As I mentioned before, I'm a recovering "Yes Woman." I hate saying no, and I love thinking that I can do everything.
But I literally can't.
I've learned that some work just isn't a good fit for me, and that's okay. I'm lucky to know a lot of people who do a lot of great work, so I can always refer someone to a great resource.
When you don't have a steady paycheck, it feels like saying "no" to anything is saying "no" to your next mortgage payment. But every time I turn down something that isn't a right fit I open up space for work that IS the right fit.
I've also acknowledged the little Robin inside me that gets complete and utter joy out of being wanted. It sounds so silly, but I feel literal excitement in the core of my being when someone asks me, "Can you do this?"
Everything inside me lights up like I was picked first for the dodgeball team. Who needs drugs when you can just be WANTED!
Helper Robin isn't terrible, but she could tone it down. I'll spend the rest of my life blocking her from immediately saying, "YES!" to every project, idea, or plan. (Especially the unpaid ones.) But I'm getting better at it.
3. Get out of the house.
I learned very early on that self-employment can be a lonely endeavor.
The thing that keeps most people from taking the leap to self-employment is the income uncertainty. They are afraid they won't make money.
But, even after draining my bank account. Even after sitting down with my husband to have difficult conversations about money. Even after laying awake at night wondering what will happen when a contract ends...
...the hardest thing about working for myself has been feeling like I am alone.
All it takes is putting on real clothes and heading to a coffee shop, my co-working space, or on a walk to the dog park in the middle of the day to realize: I am not alone.
There are thousands of other people, just like me, who are loving and struggling with entrepreneurship.
I've learned to schedule morning coffee meetings, so I'm forced to get ready and out of the house. I joined an accountability group with other kick-ass business owners who challenge and support me. I am a member of a co-working space because merely being in a room with other entrepreneurs helps me get 10x more done in a day.
When I'm feeling down, the only thing I want to do is work from home and change out of one pair of pajamas into a new pair of pajamas.
But I'm always - ALWAYS - more energized, creative, productive, and happy when I get out of the house.
This blog was too long.
I guess I had to make up for the last year and a half of absolutely zero blogging. So I'll include a cute picture of my dog to make it worth it for the 3 people that read this. (Hi, Mom!)
The over/under on me writing another blog is set at 6 months. I'm taking the over. (Unless, of course, you tell me you WANT another blog about my adventures in entrepreneurship and then Helper Robin will get right on it.)