One year anniversary in business!
Today is the day!! It’s my one year anniversary in business and the day so far has felt like one big sigh of relief. For whatever reason I’ve felt like I’ve been crawling to this date to feel like a real business person - to have that one year under my belt. Last night at dinner I looked at my boyfriend and said, “tomorrow is my one year anniversary”… and then I started crying. What a journey it has been.
Last January I made a big decision and quit my full time job to go off on my own. A lot of people thought I was crazy. Even my dad (who is by far my biggest cheerleader), said, “but, Katie, don’t you want to buy a house soon?” I knew it was a risk, but I was already getting a handful of inquiries for side design projects while I was working full time. I decided to give it my best shot and see how it went. If I felt like I was drowning, I’d find a part time job.
One year ago today I went to the bank, opened up a business bank account and drove straight to a bar to get a Bloody Mary to celebrate with my boyfriend (see pic). The next day I got a call for a logo project from a referral and got the job. I hung up the phone and danced around my house in disbelief. I immediately signed up for an accounting class, Quickbooks class, goal setting class, and a Mountain Bizworks course to help guide me through writing a business plan. I took advantage of the free business resources, classes and seminars at the local community colleges and spent a lot of time networking and scheduling coffee dates with other business owners to soak up as much knowledge as I could.
This year has been quite a roller coaster. Depending on the day I could be dancing in my car after a great meeting, panicking because I took on too much work, panicking because I don’t know if I have enough work, fist pumping in a coffee shop because I figured out the code needed to customize part of a website, or questioning myself (about everything).
When I was trying to figure out what to write for this blog I looked up a bunch of “one year in business” blogs and most of them were about things they had learned or about their highlights from the year. While I could talk for days about the best parts of working for myself, I thought it would be way more entertaining to share some less glamorous (and kinda funny) insights into my life as a freelancer:
I look like a crazy person most days
Since I work from home 80% of the time, I don’t see the need to put on makeup or wear anything besides my comfiest clothes. A typical outfit is my hoodie, crazy patterned leggings, and clashing patterned socks and slippers. On other days I’ll shamelessly rock my robe way past noon. It’s not until I’m taking the trash out or checking the mail that I realize how ridiculous I look.
I need hobbies again!
I used to be in the woods almost every weekend, but ever since I started this journey I’ve been in straight up survival and hustle mode and felt like I’ve been saving my spare time to work on my business. If I did go on a hike I’d wonder if I could be using that time to be improving my business or how much better a design could be if I put in a little more time (bad, right?!). It’s so much harder to turn work off when my brain is humming with ideas, deadlines, and questions. I’m hoping now that I’ve hit this milestone I can relax a bit and go camping, hiking and dancing more.
I like to work at night
I’ve always wanted to say “I’m a morning person”. While I still get up fairly early, I’m not the most productive during those hours (working on this!). I can easily get caught up in the email game and not get any design work done. I don’t know if it’s because it’s outside my client hours or what, but I’m by far the most creative between the hours of 8pm - 12am. I wish that wasn’t the case, but it is what it is.
How I find my confidence
Anytime I need to muster up some confidence and courage before a meeting, I blast “Formation” by Beyonce in my car (judge away). Sometimes I’ll change up the song, but this one is always going to get my head nodding and reminds me that I’m a boss.
I need to work on time management
In year two I’m going to work on my time management. My first year consisted of a lot of wasted time just thinking about what I should be doing. Should I post something on Instagram? Should I listen to a podcast? Should I write a blog? Should I look up a networking event? Should I finish that project early? Should I read a design book? Should I be setting goals? Etc. No one is telling me what to do anymore which is AWESOME, but it can also make me freeze in my tracks.
Not all projects go as planned
One project was particularly difficult for me this year. I ran into a major creative block and tried to work through it by exploring WAY too many directions. I ended up putting in double the hours it normally takes me and felt incredibly irresponsible with my time. For the first time since running tests in college, I felt an overwhelming amount of physical anxiety. Fortunately the project ended up going just fine, but it rocked me more than I expected. Looking back I’m glad that it happened because I’ve already refined my process twice since then and I can already feel myself learning from the experience.
It can be lonely!
One of my favorite parts of working in an agency was the friendships I made. I loved hearing about coworker’s weekends, breaking out into song, or getting side-tracked on ridiculous topics. Now, if I don't have any in-person meetings scheduled, I’ll sometimes go a couple days without seeing anybody except my boyfriend and dogs. Some days I talk to my dogs more than any human. Don't get me wrong, I love them to pieces, but I often hit a breaking point and have to leave to work at my coworking space or a coffee shop.
I have a business card game
I often giggle to myself because I can find myself in the most absurd situations when it comes to networking. It’s super uncomfortable walking into a huge room of strangers knowing that you’re there to pitch yourself. Sometimes I want to turn around before I even walk in the door, sometimes I talk too much to fill the awkward pauses in conversation, and sometimes I just run to the bar. But, before I go into each event I give myself a goal to give out a certain number of business cards. It’s like a little pep talk before I go in, “Katie, you’re going to give your card to 5 people tonight. That is why you’re here.” Then, if it sucked I can at least get back in the car and say to myself, "Welp, that was rough, but at least I gave out 7 bizz cards!"
In conclusion, the self-employed life has been quite a ride. This has genuinely been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I am PUMPED to kickoff year two and focus on growth, improvements and world domination.
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