Here’s The Thing About Going Solo

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In my experience, advice has three categories; the good, the bad and the unwelcome. On the other hand of advice is a magic— all of us have some words of knowledge, if nothing else, curious thoughts to share with one another. This to me is one of the best gifts we can give each other. The inability to learn from the next person is a testament to the staggering disconnect between the human race. If we can’t wrap our minds around the idea that the average person we meet has experienced fullness that is worthy of retelling, then we are cheating ourselves out of a richer way of relating to one another. We might disagree or find one person’s take on any given subject profound— the goal is to discern what resonates with us and what to let in one ear and out the other.

When I started my independent consultant career, I knew nothing except the fact that I wasn’t getting  what I needed professionally and personally through the conventional work structure.  It’s mostly been a learn-as-you go experience with moments that remind me that sometimes, we need to simultaneously do and learn in order to build improved ladders that we can pass down to others. You might find it to be helpful, dreadful or unwanted but here goes some advice on what I’ve picked up along the way in my solo act.

Fake It Till You Make It

This phrase has truly carried me, especially when I caught wind of the fact that almost everyone else is doing so. The thing about performing an idea is that if you practice it long enough, eventually you become it. Affirmations  are a great way to  realise something. Chant them, write them down, pray or meditate about them, just get them out to the Universe. It’s only a matter of time and belief until your goals and milestones become reality. 

Learn Your Relationship With Money

Freelance work means that money comes in spurts and if you have an anxious relationship with money like I do, you become susceptible to making decisions that are born from fear and doubt. Don’t. As cliche as it may be, it is true that we set the bar for how we’re treated and this applies to the work environment as well. Setting prices for your services, especially with creative work, can feel like picking a needle from a haystack. There’s a lot of advice that suggests we should follow the market rate but I’ve found that transparency regarding money is hard to come by. I think it’s a blend between what you think your work is worth and what you feel is fair compensation for it according to the context. Things like circumstance or relationship weigh on the decision sometimes. Do your research but be the judge of what makes most sense for you.

For some reason, paying an organisation comes more natural to people than paying individuals. There seems to be an art to getting paid as a freelancer and everyone finesses it differently. One thing I usually do to protect myself is ask for a down payment upfront. This accounts for my time spent towards the product before completion. It also helps reinforce the professionalism of the contractual relationship.

On a spiritual note—  to know how to manage money, we have to understand the intricacies of our relationship with it and where our habits and framework around it come from. Only then can we be clear about how much of it we need and what we’re willing to do to get it. Take the time to do the personal work because it directly effects your professional landscape.

Seek People Who Give You The Inspiration to Dream Out Loud.

Building a solid professional circle doesn’t have to be confined to conferences and summits. I look at the experience of life as an opportunity to meet new people, learn from them and explore possible collaborations in an organic way. I’ve met some of the most instrumental people in my life through channels that required me to step out of the box. In many instances, we get what we give, which brings me to my next point;

Take an active role in intentionally connecting with people. Social media has made it so much easier for us to not only stock people but also to reach out to personal brands whose work or stories we admire. Working remotely doesn’t afford some of the automatic networking spaces that come with a conventional job so extra effort in connecting with other professionals is important. Who knows? You might even make a new friend in the process.

Think Of This Chapter As An Exam

This is the moment to apply what those job titles and salaries with benefits taught you. Your freelance resumé might look like a skeleton but the experience that got you to this point will usher you into leveling up on your skills. Use the teachings on what or what not to do from your former bosses as a foundation for the way you’ll run your operation. Time management, negotiating for pay, working with difficult personalities, building relationships or managing a crisis– these are all things that fall on your plate now and ultimately, holding yourself accountable for the things you say you’ll do is the glue that will keep your sh*t together. You’re the boss now, act like it. And if you find yourself struggling to, remember to be kind to yourself because, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in one day.

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