We love a great story.
Shelly was working for one of the most revered advertising agencies in the industry. Her efforts led to the company working with some of the best brands on the planet and she was an extremely valuable asset to the agency. But Shelly wasn’t getting the recognition like her colleagues and was continually left out in the cold when it came to promotions. She knew she could do better on her own, so she quit and launched her own business. Shelly’s company was an overnight success, generating millions in revenue and it elevated her status in the industry. That first year she was named the Women’s Best Business of the Year.
It makes for a great story. We want Shelly to win because she was being taken advantage of at her old company. Sometimes stories like this resonate with us because we find ourselves longing for the same opportunity to chase our dreams and reach the summit like Shelly did.
The five myths of freelancing.
There are plenty of books and blogs that will tell you that success is well within your grasp. They’ll inform us that we just follow their plan then we will have our day of triumph. We are sold the magic bean story.
I hate to crush your dreams, but most startups will never reach the summit. Many never even get out of base camp. It’s difficult to rope up and climb a mountain on the first try (and sometimes even the 100th attempt). Sadly we don’t hear the stories of the climbers who froze to death on the mountain or the ones who lost their limbs to frostbite. Dead climbers don’t make for the great story we long for.
Freelancing is a lot like mountain climbing. Let me bust some myths with you that are continually shared on freelancer or lifestyle business blogs.
It’s easy to do.
Let’s be real honest here; freelancing is very hard work! It’s like trying to climb to the top of Mount Everest. You have to plan, calculate the risks, prepare your body for the ascent, find the proper guide, and purchase dependable equipment. It’s a slow process to reach the top and there’s no guarantee you will even reach the summit. You might die in the process. If freelancing were easy, anyone would do it. Not everyone is cut out to be a freelancer.
You can do It when you want.
Yes you can set your schedule and work when you want, but that won’t ever get you to the top. Client work is much like the weather conditions or four seasons .. it’s always changing! There will be plenty of situations you have no control over or that will dictate your ability to climb. Your customers will have expectations you must meet and the market changes rapidly. If you don’t embrace this reality and adapt to the environment, you will die.
You don’t have to have a plan.
No one should ever attempt to climb a mountain without a plan. Freelancing is no different. You don’t have to have a forty page business plan but it is critical to have some strategy listed out in order to get to where you want to go. You need to know exactly what services you want to offer, who your perfect client will be, and how you will win those clients. Map out your destination and what you need to get there.
You wouldn’t just rope up and start climbing Mt. Everest. The same goes for your freelancing business.
You only need minimal tools.
There’s no doubt you can launch a freelancing business today with $100 and a handful of free apps, but that initial investment will only take you so far. In theory, you could buy a cheap rope and carabiners and start climbing, but in practicality you might find yourself in a very bad situation if your equipment fails. You get out of what you invest in.
It takes the proper tools to increase your odds of victory. This is why it’s important to invest in books, resources, coaching, mentoring, apps, and conferences that can help you. Stop looking at these items as an expense because they increase your odds at survival.
You can get there fast.
Oh hell no! There is no such thing as overnight success.
If you talk to people or read blogs who promise instant gratification you better be prepared for a blizzard. Promises of sunshine and unrealistic expectations are only pipe dreams — so put on your oxygen mask Major Tom and come back down to earth.
Climbing a mountain or building a successful freelancing business takes time and commitment. There are no short cuts. If you want to ascend the summit, then you must be prepared to take a long and consistent journey to get there.
A few final words.
These five myths of freelancing aren’t meant to scare you or to paint a very bleak picture. Instead they are about preparing you for what’s ahead. A great Sherpa does all he can to get you ready for the ascent. Knowing what to really expect ensures a greater chance for success. It could also save your life.