I have been a freelancer and I have been running my service-based business for several years now. The journey has been bumpy and unpredictable, but being my own boss helped me to learn the skills I haven’t had a chance to gain in full-time jobs.
Don’t get me wrong. In-house positions give you many opportunities but running your own business puts you in a totally different zone. It’s a learning process on speed and you are responsible for every success and every failure.
Especially at the beginning of your journey, you will have to face many obstacles and learn various new skills – creating your own website, learning about finances, and bringing people on board are only a few of them. We often focus on the hard skills that help us move forward. However today I would like to talk about skills that are often underestimated but can be equally crucial to your business.
Time-management and planning skills
A number of responsibilities can hit you hard when running your own business and the knowledge of how to deal with them can prevent you from burning out. Juggling your daily tasks (both at home and work) can be difficult at the beginning but with some simple tactics, you can definitely make it works.
Try to plan your day a night before. First, make notes on the piece of paper and take some time to reflect on your tasks and prioritize them. It will help you to understand which assignments are most urgent. If you don’t find time to do everything that you have planned, doing just the most important ones will give you a feeling of accomplishment.
Want to know more about the time management? Visit my project for creative business owners. on Instagram
Empathy helps in so many ways but it’s often overlooked by new business owners. We usually focus on hard skills, like learning new software, marketing tricks, and sales methodology. But simple empathy can be something that opens your customer’s hearts.
Understanding your audience allows you to create an offer and build a brand that reflects their desires. It can allow you to speak their language and show compassion.
I believe that small business owners who mastered this skill can gain attention faster and connect with people who really need their help.
Especially creative freelancers ignore this ability. They believe that their art or design will sell itself without a marketing strategy. However these days, you compete with the world’s best specialists, and without tools to carry your message, you will blend in and won’t be recognized.
I made this mistake myself. For the first couple of years, I didn’t see a need for marketing and I just hope my portfolio will do the job. I realized later that building a business requires much more than technical skills and talent.
So make sure you learn some basic marketing tricks and work on your online presence from the day one.
Strategic and analytical thinking
This is closely connected to the previous point, but we going to be more specific this time.
When you start your creative business make sure you think about your strategy. Imagine where you want to be in 10-15 years and how you going to get there. It can take some time before you get a clear vision but don’t worry you will get there. You can even change your mind a couple of times but putting some effort into it can really benefit you in the future.
In the book ‘Build to Last‘, the authors prove that many visionaries didn’t have a clear image of how their company should look like but in the process of experimenting, they managed to clarify their mission and be consequent in pursuing it.
Analytical thinking also helps you to understand what is going on around you and how your business can exist in a constantly changing world.
Outsourcing the tasks
Probably at the very beginning, you won’t be able to hire anyone to do the job for you, but as soon your business brings some profit you may consider asking for help someone who will take care of shallow tasks. It will allow you to focus on what is important.
There are two more reasons why I think outsourcing tasks is important. First, there are people who can do it better than you and really can elevate your business. The second is about supporting other small business owners and helping them to achieve their dreams and being more independent.
Flexibility and curiosity
For many of those who work on their brand strategy the work-frame they created is like commandments engraved in stone. But one of the things I like to repeat to my clients is that you have to find a balance between consistency and flexibility because the strategy is also about finding out what works for you and reacting to it.
Curiosity is also very important skill that you should practice on daily basis. Looking for the inspiration for other industries, experimenting with different tactics, learning new skills can help you to stand out from your competitors and stay creative.
Brave decisions often create some sort of doubts in our minds. It’s good to follow the gut feeling and fight for our belives, but when you are a newbie it’s normal to be less confident with your choices.
You will hear critical voices many times. Some of them might be right but many will come from the people who are not your ideal audience. Being assertive helps you to make sure you stand strong for your belives and you go forward with your plan.
Remember to surround yourself with people that wish you well and are the role models for you – the ones that inspire you and the ones you respect for their achievements.