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My 5 biggest mistakes as a freelancer

In this article, I have decided to share with you things I wish I had known before I launched my business... An honest account of my experience as an entrepreneur: my five biggest mistakes as a freelancer.

From a former entrepreneur to entrepreneurs to be

It's hard to provide advice to future entrepreneurs when you yourself have been an entrepreneur and had to close your business. On the other hand, I don't know who could understand you better and accompany you more faithfully than someone who has been in your shoes, who has been advised by a nyuko expert. Someone who dared to take decisions that turned her life upside down, who took them to the end and who finally finds herself here today, a member of the nyuko team, sitting on her chair as an employee at the service of entrepreneurs, writing to you.

Passion and expertise: the drivers of entrepreneurship

Before I embark on this anti-top 5, let me briefly give you the context. I am passionate (and experienced) about theatre and an expert in communication, and I was bored with the world of employment, so I decided to set up my own business in the summer of 2019. I defined and presented myself as a communication facilitator. This encompassed my three offerings: BtoB strategic communication consultant, BtoC verbal and non-verbal communication coach and life coach (which resulted from a one-year training).

Five mistakes of a budding entrepreneur

Now that the stage has been set, let's move on to these notorious mistakes of aspiring entrepreneurs:

1. Working for free

You want to share your passion, showcase your skills and experience. It's quite normal, you're brimming with enthusiasm for your project and crazy in love with your product or service, all you want to do is share it with as many people as possible, even if it means making concessions on your salary. But here's the thing... You can't afford to lose money. Even when you are just starting to make a name for yourself, you need to be paid. Being too indifferent may lead you straight to my second mistake...

2. Trusting the wrong people

Beware of opportunists! Alongside all the wonderful encounters you will make, you will also come across some opportunists on your way. How can you spot them? When you are starting out, be wary of people who want to father or mother you, of entrepreneurs who are themselves in a learning phase or struggling and who “over” give you time and an attentive ear. These are the very people who might, for example, take the credit for a jointly developed offer, when in reality, you are the one who invested too much time and knowledge, out of sympathy and naivety. A partnership is supposed to be give and take, but some people only take...

Trust your instincts. Learn to say no in order to recognise your true value and consequently, to sell your work at a fair rate. Guard your time, your energy, your private life. Choose carefully who you want to work with, and to what extent. Whether they are clients, associates, partners, service providers... Only accept to work with people who, by their actions, show themselves to be trustworthy.

3. Being blindly optimistic

If one of your goals is to be able to organise your life more freely, it is true that entrepreneurship can give you a lot of independence. However, this flexibility should not affect your organisation and discipline. I'm not talking about complacency here, but about a somewhat blind trust in your future success.

Have you ever found yourself uttering overly optimistic phrases such as: "I can feel it!"; "With my motivation and dedication, I will always find solutions!"; "I will inevitably succeed if I work hard", etc.? Dear future entrepreneur, I have an unfortunate revelation to make to you: blind optimism does not work when you have a business to run.

What does work is to see things clearly! To have thought about matters beforehand, to have drawn up a strategy (for positioning and development) based on SMART KPIs and to apply yourself rigorously to achieving them and to measure them monthly in order to correct your course at the right moment.

The concrete way to achieve this? Impose a rigorous administrative culture on yourself, for example by using time blocking. With a weekly slot of at least two hours (it can be less, but for those traumatised by paperwork like me, two is good) dedicated exclusively to managing your business (administrative and accounting, among other things). If your motivation fluctuates, discipline will prove to be your best ally in achieving your goals.

4. The dread of bookkeeping

I thought I hated it. I was wrong. It's even worse. Accountants make me freeze up. All these papers remind me of my own limitations, of my concern that I'm not up to it. Rationally, I know that I can handle it, I know the procedures, the methods... But emotionally, all those lines to fill in, the codes and the jargon... It's mind-flooding! 🤯 I procrastinate and lose my nerve in front of the accountant. If I think about it, it seems to me that the explanation lies in the fear of being judged by others: "What will my accountant think when he gives me his time?"; "What about the authorities when it comes to declarations?”; "They will probably think that I don't have all the skills to run my business successfully!”

If you see yourself in this sorry picture, here’s what helped me: remember that no one single person has all the skills and knowledge that a good entrepreneur needs! Stay humble, it' s much more honest and effective. Educate yourself and surround yourself with people with complementary skills. This brings me to the last big mistake that I wanted to highlight.

5. Charging ahead on your own

You are about to launch your business, you are fired up, convinced that the world needs your solution. Don't fall into the same trap as I did: thinking that you can do, overcome, learn and manage everything on your own. Surrounding myself with accounting and administrative professionals, for example, would have definitely increased my time, money and, by extension, my number of clients.

I hope that reading about my experiences will help you and reassure you in a way. Entrepreneurs are human beings, not machines! And that's good... It's thanks to their differences, their personalities, their colours... that our local economy is not reduced to a purely industrialised society.

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