There are a ton of myths surrounding freelancing and entrepreneurship. Myths that need to die. Now.
I love how you can make the following decisions and nobody bats an eye. In fact, you’re encouraged to do them:
- Spend tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars on college
- Buy a house and enter a 30 year period of being in debt
- Swipe your credit card like no tomorrow after driving to the mall in your leased vehicle
- Work a job where, by the simple nature of how employment works, you’re paid much less than you’re worth
Most people are sitting on top of a giant barrel of dynamite.
The average person is at the mercy of their employer and in a situation where losing their job would cause the debt they’re in to collapse on them.
But that’s totally fine.
Let this same person decide to spend some money on a business course, start freelancing, or take a stab at a business in any shape or form, all of the sudden the word “risky” pops up. LOL.
There are a ton of myths surrounding freelancing and entrepreneurship. Myths that need to die.
Let’s slay them together.
Myth #1: Not Everyone Can Be an Entrepreneur
I don’t know where I heard this from, but this idea hit me like a ton of bricks when I heard it. “Everyone is an entrepreneur, but employees sell their services to one client.” Think about it.
You’re not guaranteed a job. You have to apply for many of them to land one. How is that any different than having to generate leads in the hope that some become clients? Or promote a product in the hopes a few buy? It isn’t.
Sure, a job is more secure than being an entrepreneur or a freelancer, but if you have one client, your employer, you still place your fate in the health of the businesses.
I worked at a small digital marketing agency. We had certain clients who took up a large portion of our revenue. We were beholden those clients. This is the position you’re in when you have an employer. Why do you think people, maybe you, stay in jobs where your boss treats you like shit? Their “company” has a” client from hell.”
A client that doesn’t care about you at all by the way.
The economy goes south? Bye-bye. Someone younger can do your job for less money? It’s time to “restructure” the company.
This isn’t to say that the risks of being an employee and going it alone are the same. They’re not. But they’re similar enough for you to realize that the gap between being employed and working for yourself isn’t as large as you think. The dynamics aren’t all that different, either.
If you work in a white-collar profession, say accounting, you have all the skills you need to sell your services as a freelancer. And maybe in the future create a company of your own.
You’re doing the same work, but cutting out the middle man.
Which reminds me of a story.
Myth #2: You Need to be a Huge and Credible Company to Succeed
I once met a man who worked for some sort of environmental services company. He liked the idea of branching out on his own, providing the same services, but under his own name. His one hiccup? He felt he wouldn’t be successful without the backing of his company’s brand.
I told him a story about a client I had back at the digital marketing company. He was an engineering consultant. He left his gig at a big company and branched out on his own with a few buddies. Within a year, they had built a seven-figure business, landing big projects with major manufacturers.
I don’t recall the exact words, but I remember him saying something along the lines of, “As long as we can demonstrate our expertise, companies will hire us.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
Too many people fall for the idea that you need some sort of credibility marker to get people to work with you — a degree, a company name to back you, the right references — etc.
In reality, those things only serve the purpose of signaling that you know what you’re doing. If you can “build a better signal,” you can win business. If you can demonstrate your expertise, people will work with you, buy your products, or consume your content.
Look at me. I have no formal education as a writer, yet here I am making a full-time living doing it.
Some ways you can demonstrate your expertise are:
- Building up a portfolio of quality work (yes, this could mean doing free projects to start)
- Offering potential clients a detailed view of how you can help them. Some sort of report that shows you really analyzed their business.
- Simply communicating that in the sales process. Listen to their wants and needs, then offer smart solutions based on what you know
But what if you have no knowledge or skills to begin with?
Myth #3: You Need to be Smart to Become an Entrepreneur or Freelancer
When you think about entrepreneurship, you probably think of people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, etc. Super geniuses. I blame Inc Magazine and Forbes for lionizing this view of entrepreneurial success.
Drawing from my experience working with business owners, let me tell you, many of these individuals were not rocket scientists. They owned carpet cleaning franchises, landscaping companies, health and wellness consulting firms, e-commerce stores, home improvement rental equipment companies, the list genuinely goes on.
Get it out of your head that you have to be a genius who builds this sexy lifestyle business on the internet. That’s only one of many routes. Like I always say, build a business or freelance based on something you’re good at. Writing makes me money. It’s one of the few things I’m good at, so I build all my income streams around it.
You don’t get to choose your natural talents and strengths, but you do get to decide whether or not you tap into them fully. If you do, odds are, you’ll do well. And you don’t need to be a genius to figure this out.
Myth #4: You Have to Sacrifice Your Life to Build a Business
Maybe I should put this at number one because it’s the biggest, stinkiest, heaping pile of bullshit I’ve ever heard.
Look, do you have to sacrifice some of your time to make a side project come to life? Hell yeah. But this idea that you have to take a second mortgage on your home, abandon your family, and have no social life to start a side hustle is pure garbage.
It’s pretty crazy how people will hide behind their circumstances, especially their kids, to avoid the truth — they’re just not willing to do the extra work.
“But you don’t understand! I have special circumstance”
Life isn’t fair.
If you only have 30 minutes a day to work on your project and you have to do it at 5 a.m., then wake your ass up and do it.
Odds are, you have much more time than that. I spent four and a half years working on my writing career for about 2 hours each morning before I went to work. Some weekends, I’d spend six to eight hours a day working on my projects.
On the weekend, if you start work at 6 or 7 a.m., you could work on your projects for a full workday and still have the entire afternoon and evening to have fun with family and friends. Miss me with the excuses.
You have plenty of time, but you’re just full of shit. Admitting that is the first and most important step to making a real run at this.
Myth #5: Building a Business or Becoming a Freelancer is “Hard”
Hard is the wrong word. Building a business or becoming a freelancer is time-consuming. The tedium and minutiae stalls people, not the grand vision.
You’d love to just do the freelancing work itself, but sending 100 pitches to get 10 responses to get 3 meetings to get one client is very time consuming,
You’d love to become a writer, but setting up the WordPress site and the email marketing software and learning to write copy and creating e-mail opt-in freebies and pitching guest posts and brainstorming headlines and re-writing posts and building connections with other writers and brainstorming book ideas and writing the books and coming up with the title for the book and doing the promotion for the book and hiring freelancers to help you package the book and uploading the book on Amazon and tracking the sales and reaching out for reviews and so on and so forth … takes time.
There’s no way around the tedium. If you make some money, you can start to hire people to take on the grunt work, but in the beginning, you do all the grunting. And, again, it’s not hard, but it’s kind of time consuming and boring.
Also, when you front-load the work, you don’t have to keep working as hard the entire time. I wrote e-mail funnels years ago that still promote my books today. When you work a certain way and create assets, those assets will start to work for you. Thanks to much of the tedious work I did up front, I have an army of 0’s and 1’s working on my behalf.
The same thinking applies to non-internet based businesses. You start a service company by doing the grunt work yourself, taking the profits, and hiring staff who you teach what you know. You use the tedium to replicate yourself. This is the goal.
So, you become successful by realizing that your life is worth spending some time on. Pretty simple. But difficult to pull off.
Myth #6: [Insert Marketing Channel or Business Model] Is Dead
I’ve seen every single business model and marketing platform work. Ryan Robinson makes $50,000 a month with affiliate marketing. Meera Kothand built a six-figure business selling nothing but low-ticket products for $197 or less. I know people who offer nothing but high-ticket packages of four figures or more. E-mail marketing is alive and well, just ask Bryan Harris or Ramit Sethi. SEO does great, ask Nathan Gotch. Social media works if you know how to use it, ask Gary Vee.
The main variable in what type of business or freelancing operation you want to start is… you. The platforms you choose to market your work on are… your choice.
Most people simply won’t stick to a model and platform for a long enough time to get it to pop. I connect with a lot of other writers on Medium. I started writing on the platform about 3 and a half years ago and never stopped.
About 18 months ago, I started publishing through the Medium Partner Program. I had full momentum going into it. I was in the right place at the right time because I stuck with it.
Many other writers have privately told me they’re kicking themselves now because they were early adopters of Medium like me, but didn’t stick with the platform long enough to take advantage of it as I did. They pronounced the platform ‘dead’ a little too early. Me? I committed to it, fully.
Choose your stack. Mine:
- Medium/my blog
- E-mail marketing
I use other platforms and channels, but these are the main ones I focus on. Everything else is window dressing or ‘house money.’ This is how you stay focused and win.
Myth #7: Making Money is Selfish
My understanding of what “a lot of money” is has changed.
When you factor in normal living expenses, healthcare, college for your kids, students loans, buying a home, driving a decent car, saving for retirement and having enough money to last you multiple decades after you stop working, you realize that most people who are employees simply don’t make enough income.
You probably don’t make enough income.
You don’t have enough sources of income.
If you don’t try to get somewhat wealthy, financially flexible, financially free, whatever, you’re at risk.
We don’t have enough honest conversations about money. Many of us have deep psychological associations with it — many of which are negative.
You’ve been led to believe money is the root of all evil by people who have a lot of money. They do this to keep you stuck as a reliant employee who doesn’t have wealth. They want you to be a cog in the machine.
Fortunately for you, most people will remain cogs, which means you can escape the matrix and no one will notice.
It’s incumbent upon you to escape, make as much money as possible, and diversify your income as much as possible. Not because it’d be nice to have, but because you genuinely need to in order to survive.
At the end of the day, you can give all of this a test drive in the form of a side project.
Don’t quit your job — work on your project an hour a day for five days a week.
Don’t sack a bunch of money into your business — get a cheap website or pitch your services for free by foot or using LinkedIn.
And definitely don’t try to become the next Steve Jobs — just use your talents and strengths to develop a profitable skill, at a moderate pace, over a decent length of time.
Stop making this harder than it has to be so you can start making some money.
Ayodeji Awosika is an amazing writer and I’m a super fan of his. His website is Ayo, the Writer and writes extensively for Medium I recommend that you check out his book Real-Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement. and be sure to grab your copy of— The Ultimate Guide to Discovering Your Natural Talents and Strengths checklist. You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You.
This post originally appeared in the Entrepreneurs Handbook on October 17th, 2019 and is reproduced here with permission from the author.
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