I left my full-time career as a lawyer after 9 years to jump, feet first, into the unknown. At the time that I left law to blog and create content on a full-time basis (which still sounds flaky as hell to a lot of people, I might add), influencer marketing was new. I wrote all about why I decided to quit my job as a lawyer in this blog post. In it, I explained that when I left, I didn’t have a solid plan. I hadn’t saved in preparation for quitting, I hadn’t mapped out what my first year as a freelancer was going to look like. I literally did NO PLANNING. I just went with my gut.
Bold move, right?
Gives me anxiety to think about it now, but at the time, I just knew it was the right move for me. A year and a half later and I’m the happiest and most fulfilled I’ve ever been in my career, and I’m still financially stable. So, I guess it’s all good, right? Well, not exactly.
There are BIG lessons that I had to quickly learn during my first year of entrepreneurship and today I’m sharing 5 of them, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
1. If You Fail to Plan, Then You Plan to Fail
My situation was one of those cases where making the initial jump without a plan just worked out, and it does for some people. I went into hustle mode, and I had to succeed, or I wouldn’t eat or be able to pay my mortgage. Would I recommend this for everyone? Absolutely not!
I’m normally a HUGE planner for all aspects of my life, and I believe planning sets the groundwork for success. Once you make the move to entrepreneurship, you need to get your ducks in a row and having sound financial advice and tools is often at the start of it. I’ve banked with RBC for years (they were the first bank to give me a mortgage – woo hoo!) and I’ve only recently discovered that they have a whole suite of tools designed to assist small business owners plan for the future. They can even help you register your business or incorporate through a service called Ownr. Sidebar: if you’re planning on registering your business as a sole proprietorship, use the promo code NOFEE29 at checkout and you’ll only need to pay the government fee!
I think it’s pretty much a no-brainer (or maybe that’s the lawyer in me) that you need to separate your business account from your personal account. If you’re just starting out and want to do your banking electronically, you can easily set up a business account online with RBC once you’ve registered or incorporated your business!
And did you know that RBC offers access to FREE invoicing, receipt scanning and accounting services through Wave with no subscription required? Plus it has a host of other services that are helpful for small business owners. It integrates seamlessly with RBC’s Online Banking for business to automatically import all of your transactions. You can also upload all your receipts and sync them with your accounting records. Like, where was this information when I first started?!
If you haven’t already done so, sit down with a financial advisor to map out a rough plan. Get a checklist of all the things you need to do to set up your business and start tackling them.
2. Time Management is EVERYTHING
The hardest part at the beginning of being a freelancer was: all of a sudden, I had all this time during the day and I didn’t know how to organize it. I’m not suggesting I wasn’t busy – I definitely was! But, when you’re no longer going into an office and leaving at the same time every day, it’s harder to manage your time. My piece of advice? Manage your day like it’s a work day. If you don’t carefully manage your time, then you’ll lose time throughout the day, be inefficient, and end up working at all hours of the day and night (I shared some tips on how to better manage time in this post). Set a routine, schedule everything, make calendar appointments, and create deadlines for each of your tasks. The more I could structure my freelancing career like my legal career in terms of time management, the better I did.
3. You Can’t Do It All!
You can’t do it all, even if you tried. There just aren’t enough hours in a day and you need to have balance anyway. The sooner you learn to delegate wherever possible, the happier you will be (admittedly, I’m still learning how to do this). Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Having a mentor and a community of friends within your industry is essential (I wrote about finding your tribe in this blog post).
I love most aspects of what I do – the negotiation, the contracts, the admin, the creative, and even the emails. But one thing I’m EXTREMELY happy to ask for assistance with is the finances. RBC offers a range of advice and services so that business owners can spend less time on the administrative aspect of managing finances and more time on growing their business.
4. Know your worth (and then add tax)
Don’t undersell yourself and don’t be afraid to say “no”! Your time is valuable, so the sooner you recognize your worth, you can charge for it. It’s just that simple.
- What makes you different?
- What is your unique skill set?
- Why should your clients trust you?
Once you can think about the answers to these questions and clearly communicate your value to your clients, you can charge, accordingly.
5. Done is better than perfect (Work smarter, not harder)
The best lesson I’ve learned in my career is: done is better than perfect! The key to a happy, healthy, and successful life is to work smarter, not harder. I learned pretty early on in law that you have to find an appropriate balance between doing a good job and doing it efficiently. What helped me was knowing that I was on ‘the clock’ and understanding that clients should not have to pay for my perfectionism.
When you’re an entrepreneur and running your own show, the more time you spend doing one thing, the more it pulls you away from doing other things (including spending time with your loved ones). A good saying that applies here is: if you want something done, give it to a busy person. That’s because the more you have on your plate, the more you realize how efficient you have to become to get it all done. Sure, perfect would be great. But ask yourself: does the extra time you spend on trying to achieve perfect translate, or is it noticeable to most people? The answer is most likely “no”. Don’t tinker, overthink, over-plan, or get bogged down with the minutiae.
So, there you have it! 5 career lessons I’ve learned as a full-time blogger and content creator. Are you a freelancer or self-employed person too? What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
*This post was done in partnership with RBC, but as always, all opinions are 100% my own.