Looking Forward to Freedom
I got to cutest, most sweetly naïve DM from Angela:
“Can I have my own business and also have a lot of time off, especially in the summers, to spend with my young children?”
What would you say to Angela?
My reply was “HELL YES! That’s kinda the whole idea!”
When you work for yourself, you get to create the life you want to live.
In a big picture sense, that means you aren’t necessarily tied to a specific geographic location – you can work wherever you want, in theory.
In a small picture sense, it means you have the freedom to construct each day of your life on your own terms. However you want it to go. You get to make it up!
I freakin love that level of autonomy.
Angela will too. Because it means that if she wants summers off with her kiddos, she has the freedom to book all of her clients during the school year, even during school hours, so that when the bell rings, she’s there to pick them up.
It might seem like this is only possible if you work in a digital consulting space, but not so.
My all time favorite pizza shop closes for entire weeks out of the year so they can all go on vacation.
The framemaker a few blocks from me put up a sign that said “Out for the summer. Reopening September 5. By appointment only.” The quality of his work is so high and people are willing to pay a premium for it, that he can have a brick-and-mortar that’s only open for appointments.
In a more micro picture sense, the way you structure each day is a part of the freedom entrepreneurship gives you.
Lots of newbie entrepreneurs initially set up their days to mimic whatever corporate or academic environment they came from. 8 hours a day, butt in chair. Work through lunch. Clock out at 5.
And if that’s your jam, rock out.
But you’ve got options.
You’ve got freedom.
My daily structure has changed with the seasons of my life. When my kid was younger, I mostly followed the school day schedule, working 8-3 each day of the school year and 10-4 during the summer, getting in exercise and errands after school let out. (PS – those are 6 hour work days, in case ya didn’t notice.)
I have LOVED being there for my kid before and after school – a privilege that so many folks can’t usually enjoy.
Now that my kid is older, I wake up and read a book with my coffee. I go for a long walk or tune into a YouTube yoga class or pretend like I know what I’m doing at the pilates studio. Then I start work around 10:30. Heck, I’m writing this at 11am on a Saturday because he’s a teenager and he’s still sleeping.
I didn’t work Fridays at all this summer. I’ve taken SEVERAL weeks of vacation. We’re looking at a house in another country.
Other people embrace their night owl nature and work 3-midnight.
Some folks, like the owner of my nail salon, want a weekday off to grocery shop or whatever without the crowds, so they trade Sundays for Thursdays.
I’ve heard of people who make all the money they need for the year starting in January and as soon as they hit their financial goal, the rest of the year is totally off.
And this is all aside from the new digital nomad model where you literally take your computer and work from the world’s best coffee shops.
I’m just throwing out ideas here, to help you dream.
How you shape your day and your life is up to you.
That’s the kind of flexibility and freedom you get when you’re the boss.
But listen: The only way you can afford to work 4 6-hour days per week and take off as much time as you want and work from anywhere in the world is to be highly focused and self-disciplined in the time you are on the clock.
I can’t spend that time scrolling IG, hopping on every latest trend. I have to give my sole focus to the actions that keep my business strong.
With freedom comes great responsibility.
So, my friend, what will you do with that freedom? What’s the thing you want to have space for in your day or your life, that entrepreneurism can bring you?
For you seasoned entrepreneurs, what have you enjoyed most about that flexibility? Or did you forget that you’re the boss?
I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. Email me.
There’s joy in that freedom. Let’s find it.
Time to Raise your Rates
Hi my dear friend. It’s November. Time to raise your rates.
Your 2023 rates should be higher than your rates today.
Inflation! OMG I can’t get out of the grocery store for under $100 and there’s just two of us living in this house! Your pay needs to keep up.
The latest inflation rate was 8.2%. If you give yourself an 8.2% raise, you’ll only actually be making the same.
Which means if you don’t raise your rates at all, you’ll be making less in 2023 than in 2022 even if you have the same amount of work.
But also – you’ve learned a bunch in the last year. You’ve got more experience under your belt. You deserve an actual raise.
And now is the time to set those 2023 prices.
If you haven’t already done so.
You need to schedule the time to consider and implement your price hike when you expect to be getting requests for work in the coming year.
Did that even make sense? LOL. Let me explain.
My schedule books 4-6 months in advance. Which means in July I have to start telling potential clients that I can start work with them in January. So, for me, I have to schedule my thinking time to review and recalculate my rates in July each year.
If you’ve already got some folks on your 2023 calendar, don’t panic.
Just raise your rates right now.
Now is about the time for many people in the consulting worlds where requests for gigs start slowing down. November and December are usually quiet.
As soon as the second week of January hits, you’ll have a flood of emails from folks looking to work with you. And you’ll be ready with your new rates.
Those of you who have a busy season in November and December might not have the quiet gap where you can introduce a new rate and that’s ok, too. Just put up a sign that says “Heads up, lovely customers. Our 2023 prices have increased.” You can do this.
Here’s how my massage therapist announces her new rates:
She just posts a sign with the new prices, well in advance of when they’ll take effect.
It can feel really scary to raise your prices, as if you’ll turn off potential clients. I’ve felt that way 13 times (for 13 years of business). Guess what? Clients just keep coming.
To help you get over this hurdle, here’s what you’ll do.
Write this out in a google doc: My 2023 rates are ______. (You fill in the blank.)
Then you’ll just copy/paste that into a email for 2023 work. Much easier than having to type it out. The rate is already committed in writing.
In fact, let’s get over the first hurdle together. Email me with your 2023 rate sentence. I can promise I won’t freak out or have sticker stock. And that’ll make the second time you copy/paste that much easier.
Two Phrases Every Entrepreneur Should Know
Would you take a wine recommendation from a teenager? Of course not. People want to partner with someone who has experience.
Which is why the question Tom sent me is so common among those of you considering entrepreneurship: “How much experience would you recommend having before going it on your own doing the consulting route? Do I need to consult beforehand?”
Though it might look like it on the surface, this question is not just for newbies.
Seasoned entrepreneurs who want to expand their empires into new (and perhaps more lucrative) markets run into this same issue.
People pivoting to new fields, despite a decade of experience, face the same fear.
No matter how long you’ve been on the block, you need two key phrases in your entrepreneurial vocabulary:
“In my experience with similar situations, I recommend…”
The purpose of this phrase is to convey confidence to your clientele. You can be trusted. You’ve done this sort of thing before.
All this means is that you need enough experience to say I’ve seen this.
You don’t have to have that experience in the same industry you’re trying to break into right now. In fact, your cross-industry experience is an asset.
You don’t have to have that experience through paid work. Real life grad school projects or free time portfolio development exercises absolutely count here.
But the truth is that even though I’ve been in business for a dozen years and I like to think I’ve seen it all, a client will still surprise me every once in a while. That’s why you need this second key phrase:
“I haven’t run across this yet, but I have some ideas and I’ll do some research and get back to you.”
You don’t need to know e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g but you do need to have the unwavering faith in yourself that you can figure it out.
Talented entrepreneurs can find the answer even if they don’t have it right now. They’re resourceful. They’re also timely – you’ll get those ideas back to your client within 48 hours.
I’ve seen the experience question hold too many would-be successful entrepreneurs back from starting their empires.
How much industry experience did you have before you launched your business? Click here to tell me in an email. My hunch is that it’ll be a very wide range. The path into entrepreneurship has 1,000 different entry points.