As a writer, I’ve written five Inspirational novels and am writing my sixth now. I also have a few resources for homeschoolers.
As a virtual assistant, I have nine clients who use me on a daily or weekly basis and seven who use me on occasion when they have special projects.
As a speaker, I make myself available for whatever doors God opens up. Entertaining people is probably one of my favorite pastimes other than writing, but public speaking isn’t where my efforts are most focused on at this stage in my life. But I’m always open. 😉
The fourth wheel to this crazy work-from-home life I live involves helping others who are both ahead and behind me in this journey. Sometimes I’m off the clock and sometimes I’m on it, but I find myself many times helping authors and speakers process their next step.
I’m most blessed when it comes to my method of earning an income. Yes, my job. I just hate to call it that because it doesn’t always feel like WORK. I love my clients, and I love the things I do. So I kind of feel guilty sometimes when I think about my little pot of gold at the end of my rainbow.
95% of my work is done from home. That doesn’t mean I’m all sad and lonely in an isolated room. I have meetings via Skype or GoToMeeting. I’ve met almost all of my clients either in person or via video chat, and I feel like I have family all over the United States.
I’m blessed because I can take my work on the road and go wherever I need to go. This has come in handy when I’ve traveled or when I’ve had to sit in waiting rooms while a family member had a medical procedure. Everything I need is in my computer or my client folders (yes, I’m still old school sometimes and I use file folders).
I felt it was time to share some of the things that can help you get started in your own business, either a work-from-home set up or a freelance career.
There is a difference. Some work requires us to get outside of our little nests and interact with people, but we can still be our own bosses.
Here’s what I feel are some of the important How-To’s for starting, running, and making your business work.
Remember That Even Though You’re the Boss, Someone Else Pays You
You may be self-employed, but you need clients (or customers) or your job will end as quickly as it started. So while you may hold the reins, without your clients, there wouldn’t be any fields to plow. This means that you need to respect, value, appreciate, and affirm your clients as often as possible.
Know Your Stuff
That’s right! Before you can work for yourself in any capacity, you have to know what you know how to do.
My first client came to me by accident. She is an author who had a new book release. I interviewed her here on my blog. Then she asked me to be a guest blogger twice a month on her blog. Eventually, her hectic life created a need for an assistant, and she asked me to be it. I began by uploading posts to her blog, scheduling them, and then sharing them on social media. All of this was new to me, but I learned it. And I enjoyed it. More importantly, I added these skills to my know-how list.
This client introduced me to my second client, who has introduced me to several more. With each new client, I have brought more to the table than I had before they came into my life. Now, when someone new inquires, I can hand them a list of things I know how to do and things I know how but DON’T do.
If you don’t know what you know how to do, then your clients or customers won’t have confidence in you that you can do the job well.
While the tasks for my clients vary greatly from blog admin to payroll to managing their inboxes, handling their events, and more, some of what I do for them, I didn’t know how to do when this all began. I watched what they did. I figured things out on my own. I asked a lot of questions. I was willing to do something in a new and different way. I was and still am trying to be on a daily basis TEACHABLE.
Drop the Entitlement Mentality and Be Willing to Work for a Living
This is huge! Unless you come from a family who has handed you a trust fund or you’ve won the lottery and saved well, this life requires work. And you know what? I’m glad it does. If it didn’t, I think my brain would be a big pile of mush by now. I enjoy working and learning. It helps me be a well-rounded person. It helps me see the world outside of my narrow view. How?
Because when you have to please clients and customers and that requires you to get up off the couch and leave your television behind, your world opens up. You see all the possibilities that are out there. You see the struggles other people go through. You see that this life isn’t all about you.
You also become way less entitled. You begin to value the dollar.
I’m far less likely to blow money on frivolous things when I think about how hard I had to work to earn it. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a night out for dinner and a movie. But when I consider the fact that I just spent three hours of earnings on that night, I’m much more discerning next time around.
While being willing to work is a big part of working for yourself, you also have to set boundaries. I generally tell inquiring clients that I work Monday-Thursday and save the weekends for my family, church and writing. I have clients on the West Coast and the East Coast so that can get tricky sometimes with timezone differences, but overall, it works nicely for me because I have set boundaries. Very rarely do I let a client’s lack of preparation constitute an emergency on my part. I’m always here to help, but a client might have to wait in line behind another client. Boundaries. They are good for all things in life.
Return the Favor
When someone teaches you, turn around and teach someone else who is coming along behind you. When someone gives you their time, give of your time to someone else. The same goes for your resources.
One of my clients gifted me a writers conference this summer. There’s no way I could have worked it out this year to go, but she wanted me there. So she made it happen. It was God, really. I told her that I didn’t know how I’d ever repay her. She said to keep my eyes open for someone that I could help one day. And then to be ready to help. How awesome is that?
Use Your Knowledge and Talents to Help Your Clients
My first two novels were published by a small publisher. After several years, I decided to regain my rights and publish them and their sequels on Amazon. That process took a lot of brain power, but I eventually learned how to do everything. I had a lot of help from friends who had walked that path before me. Since then, I’ve been able to help many of my clients with everything from editing, formatting, and even publishing their books. I believe that if God gives us the opportunity to learn something, we should pass that knowledge along to others when they need it.
Working for yourself is both easier AND harder than a regular 9 to 5 job, but it’s so worth it!
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