A guest post by Cathy Miller who blogs about writing at her Simply Stated Business Blog
A favorite question Art Linkletter liked to ask kids was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
While vast numbers of you may not know who Art Linkletter is, it’s a great question – one you should ask about your business.
What does your freelance writing business want to be when it grows up?
Think you know the answer?
Look Before You Leap
I don’t recommend starting your freelance business the way I did – slamming the phone down on a room full of your company’s senior executives.
After 30-plus years in Corporate America, I was fried.
- The problem was more with me than my employer
- I waited much too long to pursue my dream
- Fortunately, I had a very understanding – now former – employer
I had researched starting my own business writing company for ages. I thought I was prepared. Boy, was I wrong.
Eyes Wide Shut
If you are thinking about starting a freelance writing business or are new to the business, you probably have advice coming out your ears, including:
- Social media strategy
- Finding a niche
- Business tax information
- And on and on
Don’t get me wrong. You need to know this stuff. It was the form and substance of my research. But I didn’t really know what I wanted my freelance writing business to be. As I walked away from a six-figure job all I was sure of was that it was okay with me. If six figures meant that level of stress I wanted no part of it.
A Blind Eye
I was burned out. I didn’t have the enthusiasm for what I spent over 30 years of my life in – the healthcare industry. Or so I thought.
I floundered – badly.
At first, I tried ignoring my health care industry experience.
- I searched job boards for non-healthcare gigs
- I was all over the place
- I was an unfocused mess
Because I like to eat, I threw in the towel rather quickly and returned to my healthcare roots.
And still I floundered.
Finding a Focus
A turning point for me came in the form of a colleague. He told the audience at a seminar that he figured he could always go back to his corporate job if things didn’t work out.
I literally felt my heart lurch. I knew there was no way I could do that. At that point in time, I realized I was in this freelance thing for keeps, so, I had better figure out what I wanted it to be when it grew up.
You can set and meet all the goals you want, but if you don’t really know what it is you want from your business, you are just marking time.
- Is freelancing a temporary solution until you find your next job?
- Is freelancing a means to an end until you become the next great novelist?
- Is freelance writing an expression of your passion?
There are no right or wrong answers. Whatever it is, it’s yours. And there is no law that says you can’t change your vision.
By figuring out what I wanted from my business, a lot of good things happened.
- I found the enthusiasm again for my niche
- I am now selective about the writing gigs I accept
- I walk away from prospects who are unable to pay my fees
- I have the balance I need for my family needs
By no means do I have all the answers. But, what is life if not a work-in-progress?
Recently, Anne shared a link to a post of entrepreneur, Jonathan Fields, which contains a video of Bryan Franklin’s Most Dangerous Question on Earth. It’s about 20 minutes long, but I urge you to view it until the end where he asks the “most dangerous question.”
I am still trying to answer it.
What’s your answer? Or what direction are you headed?
Cathy Miller is a freelance business writer with over 30 years of professional writing experience from small businesses to Fortune 500 customers. Cathy started her own business in 2008, providing all forms of online and print business writing.