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Freelancers: what to do when it feels like competition is holding you back

Freelancers, it can feel like you have a lot holding you back like a lack of resources or huge staff, so what do you do when your competitor is outpacing you?

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The best gift of all for freelancers

Almost all freelancers I’ve met to date complain about competition, and how it is killing their business. That’s a load of crap! Competition is the best thing you could ask for, hands down.
Competition tells you the market needs your services.

Competition pushes you to be your best, think outside the box, and look critically at your value proposition.

Competition can raise your rate – let those other guys take the low-paying gigs.

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Who needs accountability when you have competition sitting there every day working as hard as you are to build a business? If you decide to relax and blow off those great ideas, your competition will be happy to enlighten you of the outcome.

My own experience with a competitor

Just recently, I found out that someone I trusted decided to replicate exactly what I’m doing and has even geared this venture to the same market as mine. Initially I was devastated, this organization is bigger than me, with more influence (at least it feels that way), and they know my strategy.

Then it dawned on me – if I’m going to be the top dog in this race, I have to step it up. The only other choices were to walk away and count my losses while they are small, attempt to join forces (which still may happen), or continue to move forward at my super slow pace and enjoy a few small wins along the way. I want to play big this time, and this was my wakeup call – my competition is pushing me to be a better freelancer.

How I set out to win

I sat down and made a list of my assets (client list, market reach, personality, community, etc.) and then made a list of the competitor’s assets. The reality was they don’t have nearly as big of a jump on this venture as I originally thought; making my over-the-top initial response pretty silly. I could not only build a great list, but I have assets that would take them years to build. Not to mention I have the first-to-market advantage with tremendous success.

Now, instead of just resting on my laurels of a previous, singular success, I am pushing forward and closing my gaps. I immediately defined the one hurdle that has the potential to stop me in my tracks: making big a reality. So I reached out to a mentor that I have watched think big and then make big happen to help me.

What typically holds us freelancers back

Asking for help has never been my strong point, but I’m doing it regardless of how uncomfortable it is. There are two more areas that will hold back the success of growth if I do not address them: 1 – a team, and 2 – money. Freelancers tend to let money hold them back by thinking there isn’t enough or it is hard to obtain. That is simply not true; all I have to do is start asking. Within 48 hours, the first sponsor was on board and a volunteer team has stepped up to help me get to the top. Onward and upward. Thanks, competitor.

What’s holding you back? It isn’t your competition. Take a harder look, be willing to take on the opportunity, and grow your freelancing business. Believe in yourself and let people help you. Even the competition.

#Freelancers

Emily Leach is a pioneer in the world of uniquely-talented people who feel empowered to go beyond conventional jobs and create businesses from unique vantage points and perspectives. She is the founder of the Texas Freelance Association, the first statewide association of freelance workers in the country and The Freelance Conference, the only event of its kind poised to become THE conference for freelancers across the nation. Her belief that those working for themselves deserve the same respect as those working for major corporations drives her tireless fight to ensure this growing population of “genetically unemployable” solo-preneurs are represented and offered some of the same opportunities as those working for large corporations. Because of her knowledge and expertise, Emily has been a leading-edge organizer and speaker for TEDx events throughout the U.S. Southwest. Currently living in Austin, Texas, Emily’s outside interests include rowing, sailing, traveling, scuba diving, snowboarding, whitewater and cycling – basically, having adventures and living life to the fullest.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Dave Osh

    May 21, 2015 at 12:32 am

    Emily is touching one of the most important challenges that derails many freelancers. Competition is just one step prior to collaboration. Unfortunately, the freelancing landscape is shadowed by fear of competition instead of inspiring growth with generous sharing, supporting and mentoring. Collaboration will create a larger cake and Emily paves the way for this transformation.

  2. Job at home

    June 10, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Too bad some freelancers actually think of their job as some kind of a race or competition. It's one thing when your competitor makes you strive more and generally get more motivated, but it's a completely different and negative thing when it becomes some sort of a rivalry.

  3. Pingback: Could this be the best planner for freelancers in history? - The American Genius

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Business Entrepreneur

How to spot when it’s time to go full freelance

(ENTREPRENEUR) There may come a point when traditional work becomes burdensome. Know how to spot when it is time to go full freelance.

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freelance productivity

Freelancing is often thought of as a mythical concept, something that is almost too good to be true. While it isn’t all about hanging out at home in your pajamas all day, being a freelance is something that is completely possible to be successful – assuming you do your homework.

Recently, a friend of mine who is a licensed esthetician was no longer happy with her position at the salon and spa she worked for. The set hours were becoming a burden, as was having to divvy up appointments between another esthetician within the salon.

She noticed an increasing number of people asking her if she could perform services (eyebrow and lip waxing) from her home, as they preferred not to go into the hectic salon. My friend also found an increase in requests for her to travel to bridal parties for their makeup, rather than the parties coming into the salon.

It was around this time that my friend began to seriously consider becoming a freelance esthetician, rather than a salon employee. After about six months of research and consideration, she decided that this was the best route for her.

Below are the reasons she felt ready to pursue this option, and if they resonate with you, you may be ready for a full time freelance career.

1. She had a number of built-in clients and a list of people she could contact to announce her at-home services. Doing this at the start of one’s career would be very difficult without a contact list and word-of-mouth references, so it’s important to have…

2. …experience! My friend had worked for a number of salons over the years, and had the experience of working with all different types of clients. She also learned what she liked and didn’t like about each salon, which were pieces that factored into her own work-from-home space.

3. Since she had years of experience and had done all of the necessary aforementioned research, she knew what was expected of her and knew that getting a freelance career off the ground wouldn’t be a walk in the park. Operating a freelance career is completely on you, so you have to be 100 percent dedicated to making it work – it won’t just happen for you.

4. Once she began thinking about this idea nonstop and became more excited, she knew it was time to move forward. At first, the “what ifs” were daunting, but became more positive as time went on. If the idea of being a freelancer elicits more smiles than frowns, definitely take the time to consider this option.

5. In addition to the clients she already had, she also had an amazing support system who helped her develop her freelance brand and get her at-home business up and running. Having a solid group of people in your life that will help you is crucial, and any offer for help should be appreciated.

Other things to consider are: do you have enough money saved in case the freelance venture takes longer than planned to take off? If not, maybe stick with the day job until you feel more financially secure.

Jumping into something too quickly can cause you to become overwhelmed and drown in the stress. Make sure you’ve covered every single base before making this leap. Good luck, freelancers!

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Business Entrepreneur

Hobby to profession: The new-age entrepreneurs

(ENTREPRENEURS) Turning your hobby into a career is harder said than done but a few knitters are putting on a clinic on how to do it.

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knitting entrepreneurs

I’ve often heard the advice that you should follow your passion, and eventually, someone will pay you to do it. But the truth is, turning your hobby into a career is easier said than done. The process by which a person turns a hobby into a business is poorly understood by experts – at least partially because it’s so difficult to collect data on this topic. In order to separate the lifelong hobbyists from the entrepreneurs, you’d have to trace the activities of many hobbyists over many years to understand how their paths diverged.

An MIT Ph.D. candidate has hit upon a novel way to research the transition from hobby to entrepreneurship by following Ravelry.com, a social media and pattern-sharing platform for knitters and crocheters, often known as the “Facebook of knitting.” The site encourages crafters to keep track of and share their projects, tools, techniques, and patterns.

The Washington Post reports that by analyzing over 400,000 profiles on Ravelry.com and interviewing 100 knitters, found through an additional newsletter and three blogs, Ph.D. candidate Hyejun Kim was able to draw some interesting conclusions about what can “cause someone to flip the switch from ‘fun’ to ‘profit.’” Only 1.5 percent of Ravelry users become entrepreneurs who sell their own patterns, knitted items, or yarns. What sets this small number of knitters apart?

Although the internet provided the crucial data Kim needed for the study, it was, in fact, real-world connections and encouragement that turned out to be the tipping point into entrepreneurship for most knitters-turned-business-owners. When asked why they decided to start their own businesses, most reported that they were encouraged by their friends and spouses.

Most of the crafters who became entrepreneurs were already very skilled knitters, to begin with. Kim was able to isolate a number of knitters who joined in-person knitting groups like Stich ‘n’ Bitch. Those who joined a group were 25 percent more likely to become entrepreneurs than those who didn’t. That’s because their crocheting comrades would compliment their creations, boosting their confidence and inspiring them to take it to the next level.

It shouldn’t be overlooked that 96 percent of Ravelry users are women. The forces of sexism in the world of startups and the undervaluation and domestication of women’s handicrafts likely combine to give women the impression that their skills and talents are just for fun and shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to make money. Kim’s research shows that when it comes to entrepreneurship, sometimes talented women just need a nudge in the right direction.

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Business Entrepreneur

Teach kids music and they’ll learn entrepreneurship

(ENTREPRENEUR) Sowing the seed of music education and appreciation in your child when they’re young is a great way to produce the fruit of entrepreneurship when they’re older.

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With all the focus sports gets as the petri dish for producing driven adults, I’d like to offer up a different extracurricular activity for your consideration: music. Supporting your child as they learn how to harmonize with others will help set them up for success later in life, as music cultivates many of the characteristics that entrepreneurs rely on every day.

Iteration

Anybody who’s played an instrument or been a part of a choir can tell you that the number one thing you’ll learn in a musical group is that you won’t make it unless you practice, practice, practice. Although in the moment it’s not that great to hear little Timmy or Ginny run through their C-scale a hundred times, a few years down the line when all those hours of iterating result in the lilt of Beethoven through your household, you can be sure that your kid has learned that repeating the little steps helps them achieve large goals.

Showmanship

A large part of being a successful entrepreneur is knowing your markets, or your audience, and able to keep their attention so that they come back to you when they need your business. Being a part of an ensemble not only teaches children to be comfortable in the spotlight but to crave putting on a show.

Teamwork

When young musicians come together to play in a band or raise their voices in a choir, they’re learning a lot about how to collaborate with others in order to achieve a goal. When a young alto sings alone, her notes may sound strange without the soprano tones filling out the melody. The duet that comes from them learning to work together and complement each other builds a strong foundation for any team venture your child will encounter later in their careers.

Competiveness

Although music provides a solid foundation in harmony, it also contains just as much grit and competition as the football field. Music groups compete in regional and national championships just as athletes do, and solos offer opportunities to self-select and advocate. Hell hath no fire like a second seat musician who dreams of being first chair.

Self Confidence

Unlike sports, music is accessible to those who might struggle with finding confidence. There are no “best” requirements to play—regardless of height, weight, and other characteristics that nobody has any control over—nearly anyone can pick up an instrument or find their voice. This perhaps may be the greatest gift that you can give your child, the confidence that no matter what they look like they can excel.

As your child begins to consider the different activities that will help them build toward their future, don’t discourage them from pursuing a musical path. When they have to stand in front of an audience of their peers and deliver a presentation with an unwavering voice, they’ll thank you for the years they spent getting comfortable in the spotlight. Especially if they pursue entrepreneurship!

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