3 Things I've learnt now I'm working for myself
Updated: Jan 5
I can't believe it's approaching 5 months since I quit my corporate job, and took a terrifying and wonderful leap into the unknown - going full time into Tiny Giraffe.
When people ask how I'm finding it, I usually respond,
"I'm learning everything the hard way, over and over."
I have experienced SO MUCH in the last few months - about who I am, what is important to me, what Tiny Giraffe stands for, what projects I like most and what tasks I could do without.
Here are three things I've learnt the hard way*
1. Value Yourself / Charge Appropriately
It's true, we all have to start somewhere.
Over the last year or two (while working full time hours in a 4 day/week role AND working part time on Tiny Giraffe) I did some art and design work for free - for friends who requested, for people who begged, and some in return for marketing opportunities.
Because I was earning a good wage in my job, I didn't value the need to make much money from my business. Add to that, I'm a naturally generous person who likes to surprise or help others and I didn't know how to say 'no'. I wish I had treated my business, valuable time and skills with the respect they deserved. It was never worth the heartache of the hours invested for next to no return, and sometimes not even a 'thank you'.
And in the beginning of going full time, I found myself charging minimal for people - because I wanted to have the security of paid work. My art process is not a simple, quick thing. It is an investment in a beautiful and meaningful artwork that is a one-of-a-kind product. Putting a low price on it has resulted in feeling burnt out and undervalued.
As it turns out the most difficult clients are the ones who expect the most, make endless requests, ignore knowledge and suggestions, test the limitations outlined in quotes and bring huge expectations (along with a bunch of pinterest boards 'for inspiration' to be recreated 'just like this, but also incorporate that... and that... and that').
As I start to get more and more clients, I've discovered the most beautiful clients are ones that value your time, your creativity, your process and your vision. They trust you to deliver something that they will love, and they trust you to run with it. They are open minded to true collaboration and you can learn so much from each other. Ideas come to life in a way that neither imagined, and the outcomes are better as a result. They also pay you on time, thank you for your hard work and share your work with others.
It seems there are no hard and fast rules to pricing, but there is a steep learning curve to understanding how long a project takes and charging appropriately. Get all of the project details before you quote. Start tracking your hours on projects. Stay mindful of requests that fall in and out of scope. Communicate clearly and openly with your client and don't take things personally.
If you are in business or just getting started with your art - I wish I could say 'don't sell yourself short' or 'value yourself more' but after speaking to many people, this might just be a rite of passage in business.
I am learning it comes with time and practice.
2. Don't take on projects/clients that don't align with you
I'll keep this short and sweet.
There are so many potential clients out there. Lots of people may be attracted to your work, but it doesn't mean you have to accept all of them.
Some projects aren't a good fit. Some clients aren't a good fit.
Talk to your potential client on the phone if you can, and get to understand them and the project. You will know in your gut which ones you can deliver well, which ones excite you and which ones move your business forward.
Just take those ones.
3. Ask for help!
I AM THE WORST AT THIS.
I am a determined, stubborn Sagittarian woman who likes to be independent and free.
Yes, I can carry 9 shopping bags from the car in one go.
Yes, I can learn to code, to make this custom web page do what I want.
Yes, I can make my own brand video from scratch in Premiere Pro.
But I needn't.
I need help. I'm learning to ask for (and hire) help.
Everything is better when you can:
Rely on suppliers to source materials and help research options;
Rely on suppliers to ship things instead of driving to collect;
Outsource tasks you don't want to do;
Outsource tasks you don't have time for;
Outsource tasks to someone who specialises in that very thing;
Receive emotional support from a partner, friend or fellow business owner;
Ask your family for support with life admin;
Hire someone to help with housework.
I hope this list helps you... or made you realise you're not alone in this entrepreneurial journey that is the best personal development you don't have to pay for.
I'll be sure to share more learnings along the way!
Join the Tiny Giraffe email list and I'll look forward to sharing more personal stories and artwork with you there.
*This is a note to myself, to remind myself in the future too...
Also note, I have learnt more than 3 things the hard way :-/