One of the outstanding tragedies of this age of struggle and money-madness is the fact that so few people are engaged in the effort which they like best. Everyone should find his or her particular niche in the world's work, where both material prosperity and happiness in abundance may be found.
Deciding to go it alone is one of the most courageous out of your comfort zone steps you can take. The road is full of twists and turns but if you want it badly enough you will preserve through it all.
As a freelancer there comes a point when you begin questioning yourself. The little voice in your mind wonders if you made the right decision. It's similar to the '7-year itch' in a marriage where they say the honeymoon period is well and truly over and you start asking yourself, do I really want to be in this relationship?
Well, there's such a thing as the '1-year itch' in business. OK, I don't know if it’s a thing but it was definitely a thing for me. Statistics say that 20% of all businesses shut down within the first year of opening.
As I passed the one year mark of freelancing I was on the edge of throwing in the towel and calling it quits.
Business Blues Rears It's Ugly Head
I jumped into being self-employed both feet in, all guns blazing. The first 6 - 9 months were up and down, a period of adjustment getting used to the unstable income and having to look for the work rather than it waiting for me at my office desk each day.
The struggle was real but worth it. Slowly but surely even in the midst of a global pandemic, I was getting into my groove. I was happy because I was finally FREE from the chains of a nine to five and all the office politics that come along with it. I was calling the shots on when and where I wanted to work.
By month 12 the 'itch' had developed. I was marching to the beat of my own drum which was great but, I was starting to get that same meh feeling I used to get when I was employed.
I had simply copy and pasted all the tasks I was doing while employed and packaged them up as my services. It was no wonder I was feeling bored and unfulfilled.
It dawned on me, wanting to work for myself simply because I crave the control over when and where I work is not a good enough 'why' if I don't enjoy the type of work I'm doing.
Jack (or Jill) of All Trades Is The Master of None
A piece of business advice you will always come across is the importance of not trying to do everything but instead finding a niche.
When you start out on your freelance journey you are laser-focused on getting clients and making money by any means necessary.
I considered the idea of a niche and came to the conclusion that most newbies arrive at: 'niching down to a specific industry or service will limit the reach of prospective clients'.
Every business has admin tasks to process and can benefit from an administrator, so why restrict myself?
Makes sense right? WRONG!
Starting off in this way creates the illusion of having a clear plan but in reality, you are creating a foundation for a business you will likely grow to hate.
My website copy said "I do all things admin" I proceeded to do any and everything for anyone who would have me. The irony is I was actually lowering my chances of onboarding prospects by trying to be a jack (or jill) of all the things and making myself unhappy in the process.
From Blues To Revelation
With each new client I gained the more I noticed how much of my potential I was wasting. I began seriously considering going back to work full time with my bank balance and my bills screaming: "Well if you're gonna feel like this love, at least do us a favour and get a stable job where you're getting paid the big bucks"
Business gurus like Eric Thomas or David Shands always say: "Grind hard for your passion, what keeps you up at night-do that" I was all ready to take the advice but, what the heck was my passion and how do I find it so I can grind for it?
I honestly couldn't think of anything I was good at that I felt passionate about and would translate into a lucrative income.
One night, in bed, scrolling through some Wix templates as you do. (Yeah I know quite nerdy) I saw one I liked and had the overwhelming urge to make some tweeks.
They say time flies when you're having fun. Lets just say 6 hours later at 5am in the morning I had begun redesigning my whole website.
I looked up and saw the sky changing colour and the early birds chirping ready to catch their worm. I went to bed, woke up at 10am and went right back to the redesign.
If not for my cat, Chase screaming for me to come and play I would have sat at my desk for another 6 hours.
Bingo! This is my passion
This is what ET, Dave and all the other entrepreneurs were talking about.
The services I should have been offering became glaringly obvious to me. I am super visual and I love design and technology. I should be focusing on my natural tech skills.
Thus, The TechStar VA was born
Marketing Admin Support: I have an eye for visual appearance. I've always been known for rearranging my house every few months. This isn't limited to just furniture, I can spend hours developing the look and feel of landing pages, newsletters, emails and autoresponders.
Client Relationship Management Admin: They don't call me the 'organisation queen' for nothing. Whenever I work with new clients I automatically start getting their data cleansed, creating templates and getting their processes streamlined.
Content Management System Admin: I'm the person people seek out to read over their letters or applications to jazz up the format and readability. I am a planner and creating schedules and timelines is my thing, so helping to update, format and schedule blog posts and web content is my happy place.
It's Never Too Late To Pivot
You are more likely to succeed in business if it is built around a repeatable problem that needs solving and people who are willing to pay for the solution.
Once I recognised what I actually enjoyed doing it became apparent that it was a skill that comes naturally to everyone. There are so many entrepreneurs out there who are experts in the services or products they provide yet they feel daunted and overwhelmed by the technical side of implementing their businesses strategies.
Enter the TechStar VA. By niching my services down to tech-based tasks I could be the solution to their problem. Not only doing something I have a natural passion for but using my skills to help fellow business owners reclaim their time so they can focus on increasing their revenue.
Like marriage, a business should be a give and take relationship. If you feel like you are lacking joy and enthusiasm joy or you're questioning what services you offer; it's never too late to step back, re-evaluate and make a pivot. Take a moment like I did to reflect on:
What services you currently provide and which ones you actually enjoy doing.
From the ones you enjoy doing what problems could they solve for other business owners or potential customers
Is there a gap in your knowledge? Consider taking some online courses to learn, refine or refresh your skills
Let me know in the comments any issues you have struggled with in the first year of business and how you overcame them.