Starting, managing, and growing a freelance business is tough. But you can learn and master anything if you know who, how, and where to ask for help.
Just the other day I was at the park with my nephews and of course, we headed straight to the swings. They love it when Auntie Jen pushes them on the swings. They also love it when Uncle Brian pushes them and Auntie Jen pretends to almost get kicked in the face over and over!
The whole experience had me feeling a bit nostalgic.
I was thinking back to:
- Pushing my own kids on the swings when they were little while they kicked their feet and squealed with delight.
- Teaching them how to pump their legs and get the swing moving.
- Explaining how to lean forward and backward at the same time.
- Seeing the pride on their faces when they finally learned how to pump their legs and swing on their own.
- Watching as they gain the confidence needed to swing as high as possible.
This dynamic — learning a new skill from someone who already has the skill — plays out across all sorts of things in our lives, from riding a bike and driving a car to cooking, construction, and even crafting.
You Need Help To Learn Something New
Any time you want to learn something new, gain a new skill, expand your capabilities, or do something you have never done, it’s best to find someone who has already mastered it and learn from them — just like learning how to swing.
- First, you need someone to do it with you and show you the ropes.
- Then, you need someone to teach you how to do it.
- That person must answer your questions and help you clear obstacles.
- Eventually, you can do it without much help and only a little supervision.
- Finally, you master the skill and can do it without any help.
This got me thinking about the parallels in business, freelancing, and entrepreneurship, and the fallacy of the lone wolf, because…
Doing Anything Alone Is Hard
If you’re familiar with the Enneagram, I’m an Enneagram 8 and “eights are the true ‘rugged individualists’ of the Enneagram. More than any other type, they stand alone. They want to be independent and resist being indebted to anyone.”
So, trust me when I say that tackling something challenging on your own, without any help, is really hard. I know first-hand and even knowing that…
If you’re anything like me, you may still choose to be a lone wolf. You may be one of those people who has to travel the difficult path and do things the hard way.
Sometimes, it’s because you don’t want anyone to see you vulnerable — and not being good at something or struggling to learn something makes you feel that way.
But really, no one else is judging you like you think they are. Allowing people to see your vulnerability and to see you when you’re not perfect, isn’t a bad thing. It makes you more relatable, transparent, authentic, and real.
Sometimes, it’s because you feel like you have something to prove to the naysayers, or you’re trying to make someone else proud of you or earn their approval.
And those naysayers or people you’re trying to prove something to — they’re likely not even paying that close of attention to your day-to-day journey, they’re just taking notice when you make big moves.
This is why we’re often shocked when notice that a celebrity we like has gained weight, lost weight, or bulked up significantly for a movie role. We like them and we may follow them on social media, but we also have our own lives… so we tend to only take notice of and remember the highlight reel.
Sometimes, it’s because you want to wear the badge of honor that comes from doing it all by yourself and you take pride in not needing anyone else’s help.
But there is no big reward for being a martyr in your business. Sacrificing your health, relationships, and sanity to achieve a business goal isn’t something to be proud of. I’ve been there and done that — and being burnt out and exhausted when you reach your destination is no fun at all.
Don’t Do Business Alone, Get Help
If you’re like most creatives and freelancers, you started your business because you’re great at what you do and passionate about it, not because you’re a great business person or you know everything there is to know about client services. And that’s okay!
I knew nothing about owning or running a business when I quit my full-time job and decided to start freelancing… But I learned, I got help, and I got better — and I’m still learning today.
So yes, running a business is just like learning to swing. To get really good at starting, managing, and growing a business, you need help.
- You need to learn from people who already know how to do the thing you want to do.
- You need access to experienced people who can answer your questions, share their insights and lessons learned, and point you in the right direction.
- And you need time to learn it for yourself — time to explore, try, make mistakes, and become a master.
Business Help Comes In Many Forms
The truth is that you can do anything and you’re more than capable of turning your dreams into your reality. You just have to decide how long you want it to take.
- Do you want to move slowly, figure everything out on your own, and graduate from the school of hard knocks?
- Or, do you want to move fast and avoid obstacles, flatten the learning curve, and leverage other people’s experiences, mistakes, lessons to accelerate success?
Me? I choose to walk the easier path and get to the destination faster by seeking help — and that help can come in many different forms.
Yes, you can swipe through Instagram carousels, read blog posts and tutorials, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos and livestreams, read LinkedIn articles, and check out social stories, reels, and TikToks. And you can try to sort the good information from the bad and figure how how it all fits together for free. But there are other options, that can speed things up, such as:
- Industry peers:
Others in your industry who operate the same type of business but are farther along in their journey can be some of the best sources to learn from. Some are open to chatting at conferences or events, some may be willing to answer a specific question or two through social media, and some have paid programs you can join for greater access to their expertise and more support.
- Non-industry peers:
There are certain ways things are done in your industry but if we’re being honest, they’re not the only way to do things and they may not even be the best way. Peeking behind the scenes and learning how businesses outside your industry operate can provide just the Ah-Ha moment you need to tweak your systems and processes, better your business, get more clients, and increase profitability.
While finding a mentor can be tough, these experienced, seasoned authority figures are committed to your personal development. You do the work to and carry the load and they answer questions, share their knowledge, and even help open doors to new opportunities.
If you know exactly where you’re going and what you want to achieve but have no idea how to get there, a consultant can help. Consultants solve problems, provide answers for you, and create step-by-step plans of action.
Working with a coach can be eye-opening. Coaches are experienced professionals who help you find your own answers. They ask thought-provoking questions, challenge you, hold you accountable, and help you reach your full potential.
- Mastermind groups:
Mastermind groups, small peer groups who meet on a set schedule to both ask for and offer advice, are hands-down one of the best things I have ever invested in. Paid mastermind groups facilitated by a professional have been the most successful because when people have skin in the game they show up — and a mastermind group is only as good as its present members.
- Courses and memberships:
Most successful business owners I know didn’t get to where they are today without help, and many like me, feel called to pay it forward and help others by sharing everything we’ve learned by creating and offering courses and membership programs. These are a fantastic way to accelerate your learning, meet other people traveling the same path as you, and be able to ask questions and get help.
- Broad communities:
Many broader communities, like the WordPress community, are happy to share knowledge, tips, tricks, and tutorials; to volunteer to create and deliver free presentations and plan and host free meetup events; and to join the organizing teams to host low-cost conferences. Take advantage of everything available to you!
- Small communities:
If the idea of stepping into a global community or large-scale community makes you nervous, try joining a smaller-scale community. Choose a course or membership that has a community attached or look for niche communities built around a common goal, industry, location, tool, or skill.
- Micro events:
Besides mastermind groups, my other favorite way to seek help is by investing in micro events — attending tiny, small group retreats and events where deep connections are made and even deeper conversations are had. Walls drop quickly at these events, and if you’re willing to be vulnerable, they can be game-changing.
Bottom line: You’re not alone. You don’t have to do business alone. And you don’t have to know everything or have all of the answers.
Let’s Get Better Together
A coach told me long ago to never hire a coach who doesn’t work with a coach themselves or learn from someone who has stopped learning. It’s a brilliant piece of advice.
Today, I teach, mentor, and support freelancers and micro business owners, primarily those in web design and development. I share everything I have experienced and everything I know to help them reach their business goals and create the lives they dream of.
To do that with integrity, I must keep learning and growing myself. I need to try new things and explore new ways of solving the same problems and doing the same things. I need to constantly evaluate how I could be better and do better, which often means learning from others, asking questions, and peeking behind the scenes to see how other people do things.
I regularly ask for help and my courses and programs attract freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business owners who do the same. Members are committed to not just leveling up their skills and learning how to do better business, get more clients, and make more money without working more hours, but also sharing what they know with other members and what they’ve learning with their own clients.
And you’re invited to come and hang out with us.
- Profitable Project Plan is a 10-month, cohort-based business mastermind and training program for web designers and developers with a brilliant and talented community. Members receive lifetime access to the core program and the community so it’s a total no-brainer!
- Content Camp is a collection of three, three-day, hands-on workshops: one on brand messaging, one on website copy, and one on content marketing. Attendees receive step by step instructions and frameworks, workbooks and worksheets, and live support, Q&A, and reviews.
- Content Creators Club is a monthly membership and content-centric mastermind that meets for 90-minutes twice a month to talk through strategy, get feedback, and receive live copyediting. It provides extra accountability to get your content projects done.
In all of the programs, you’re learning from and receiving support from me. We’re in this together. This isn’t one of those situations where the guru sells you their program then passes you off to someone else on their team far less experienced. Gross!
Not sure of your next step? No problem! Reach out and let me know what’s going on and we’ll figure out your next best step together.