One of the harder parts about business is that it seems to be a continual lesson. Every client, every interaction, every mistake, every success – it all helps us learn. Some lessons are harder to learn than others. So, I asked a few fellow freelancers what they wish someone had told them five years ago.
Not always on time
“I think the one thing I wished people had told me is that it’s going to take much longer than you think to get where you want to be. And that’s okay. I had this idea of what successful means in my head and I was just sure I could do it in a certain length of time. It actually ended taking about double that length of time but in that time period I have grown and learned so much that I wouldn’t trade it. There are no “overnight successes.” It’s a lot of hard work and sometimes you feel like you go to steps forward only to go back a step but you’ll get there in the end and it’s so worth it when you do.” – Sara Graybill, Graybill Creative
“I think I would have wanted someone to tell me that it’s okay to ask more questions and not just let life happen to you. You don’t have to follow a path just because everyone else is and that’s what you’re expected to do too. Take the time to really figure out what you’re meant to be doing and then go for it. Easier said than done, but totally worth it.” – Megan Ronecker, Ruby and Sass
Carve your own path
“I wish I had learned earlier that I didn’t need to follow the traditional white picket fence path. I spent many years of my twenties disliking my career and how life was unfolding, but I didn’t think I could do anything about it. I shrugged it off as ‘that’s just how life goes.’ When I finally realized I didn’t have to follow the usual path, I felt so much better! It just would have been nice to have the revelation a few years earlier, ha.” – Robyn Petrik, copywriter
It won’t be easy
“I think that mostly, I wish someone had told me how hard it is….how unbelievably lonely it can be when you’re single and have no one around to share your successes, or hold your hand when you’re frustrated, or another salary to help cover rent when your checking account is empty. I wish I had known how to figure out pricing, how to really determine what I’m good at doing and what I like (where they intersect and where they go opposite directions), and how to stand up for myself from the beginning and charge what my work is worth, with no apologies.” – Jordan Hansen, Practically Magic VA
“I wish someone would have told me to just jump – let Faith, not FEAR, rule your heart. I wanted to start my business 8 years ago and was so afraid to NOT have a 401K that I didn’t do it. On the other hand, I also think God’s timing is perfect, and my timing sucks anyway. I wouldn’t have the vision for my company that I have today, 5 years ago because I was in such a different place. I guess we always second guess the path we took and wonder what if. Even through the mistakes, heartaches, wins, loves and losses – I wouldn’t change anything. Because I’m right where I’m supposed to be and my journey makes me who I am today.” – Meggie Mangione, An Organized Life
Invest in yourself
“I wish someone had told me to start investing in myself and my future. 5 years ago I was eating out all the time, going to the movies and totally living for the moment. I wish someone had told me to set up my Roth IRA and to figure out a long-term game plan.” – Renee Key, Bread ‘n Butter Consulting
Don’t stop learning
As for myself, I wish someone had told me to learn more about business. There was this 1-2 year period after college where I wasn’t actively building my business, and therefore, wasn’t still learning things about design, websites, freelancing, etc. I wish I would have kept doing research on other freelancers, learning more about design, about blogging, etc. But especially, I wish I had learned more about taxes, finances, and all the other “boring” stuff.