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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 know when it’s time to go freelance full time

(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

Entrepreneurs’ edge – working quality, not quantity hours

(ENTREPRENEURS) A huge advantage of the entrepreneur life is full control over your day – and using your hours wisely (and creatively) boosts productivity, even if it means sleeping in and staying up late. Think quality, not quantity.

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So often, we hear the phrase “quality, not quantity,” which can be appropriately used to describe ideas we give to our boss or the amount of effort we put into volunteering. The long and short of it is – don’t half-ass something because you think it’s fulfilling the need of “quantity.”

Quality is always so much more important when it comes to output in your job. Like, okay, great, you worked 11 gillion hours this month, but what did you actually accomplish? Did you finish endless busy work and take pictures for social media of how busy you are? Or did you grow your bottom line?

Over the years, we’ve heard a lot about flex hours and more working from home options, but a hot new idea is (you guessed it) quality hours, not quantity hours. Sometimes fitting into that 9-to-5 framework is satisfying the quantity aspect, but are we really being as productive as we should?

Many people argue that we should be working less in order to produce more. Wait, don’t leave, let me explain.

Does it really seem like the best idea to be working when your energy level is in the negatives? Probably not. This opens the door for more mistakes, less engaged work, and less output. If you’re a night owl and your brain fires on all cylinders when the sun has gone down, is it really worth focusing your work energy during the hours that your brain isn’t fully on?

If we work only when we know we’re going to be productive, we can really make the most of our time. Now, don’t get that confused with “sit around and wait for lightning to strike and THEN work,” it means schedule your tasks based on when your mind is typically the most productive.

When are you most productive? In the morning after you’ve had a quick job and some coffee? Or post mid-afternoon when you’re full-on awake? Jonas Downey pondered this question, and said, “I’m usually at my creative peak in the mid-morning and lose steam after lunch, so I shuffle my work accordingly. I do exploratory freeform stuff in the morning, and I save routine tasks (like implementing something I already know how to do) for the afternoon. I also have a rather short attention span, so I take tiny breaks a lot.”

He notes that working just to hit a certain number of hours is counterproductive, because in that time, there are likely to be hours worked when you are not at your best. Click To Tweet

Be honest – do you do your best work when your head is in the clouds, or when you show up to a task, raring to go?

Glorification of the 80 hour work week is dead in most circle, so consider scheduling yourself for times and days that your brain will cooperate with you instead of work against you and force you into menial work that feels like you’re accomplishing tasks!

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Business Entrepreneur

Is this normal (you wonder about your business)?

(ENTREPRENEURIALISM) It can be lonely not being able to openly ask potentially embarrassing questions about your business – there’s a way to do it anonymously…

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Entrepreneurialism is wildly rewarding – you are fully in control of the direction of your company, and you’re solving the world’s problems. But it’s also isolating when you’re not sure if what you’re experiencing is normal.

Sure, there’s Google, news networks (like ours), and professional connections to help you navigate, but sometimes you just want to know if something simple you’re seeing is normal.

Is Instagram Stories really where it’s at? Probably not if you’re a consultant.

Is it normal for an employee to attempt to re-negotiate their salary on their first day? Nope, but how do you keep the desirable employee without being bullied into new terms?

Do all entrepreneurs spend their first year in business as exhausted as a new parent? Sometimes.

You have questions, and together, we can share our experiences.

We have a brand new Facebook Group that is already wildly engaging, active, and you’d be amazed at how selflessly helpful people are – and we invite you to be one of them.

Want to anonymously ask a question about something you’re unsure is normal or not?

Click here to submit your question, and we’ll select as many as possible to discuss in the Facebook Group!

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