Boss Responses

#27: How to Find Purpose and Structure in Your Freelance Business with Alan Heymann

January 09, 2024 Treasa Edmond Episode 27
#27: How to Find Purpose and Structure in Your Freelance Business with Alan Heymann
Boss Responses
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Boss Responses
#27: How to Find Purpose and Structure in Your Freelance Business with Alan Heymann
Jan 09, 2024 Episode 27
Treasa Edmond

In this episode of the Boss Responses podcast, host Treasa Edmond and guest co-host Alan Heymann discuss how purpose, goal setting, and strategic business planning play in a freelance or small business setup. Responding to a reader’s inquiry about feeling a lack of structure, they stress the importance of knowing "why" you started your business. They also advise on setting specific goals unrelated to income and making regular check-ins for business goals to cope with life changes and allow possible pivots. Finding joy in the work being done should be a central part of running a business. 

About the Hosts

Treasa Edmond is a content strategist and consultant, best-selling ghostwriter, and podcast host. On Boss Responses, Treasa and her weekly guest hosts explore how freelancers and small business owners can navigate the sometimes tricky path of client management and communication. She also teaches content professionals and small businesses how to create SEO-optimized content strategies so they can grow their businesses by connecting with their audiences.
Connect with Treasa on LinkedIn
Follow Boss Responses on Instagram

Alan Heymann, JD, PCC has a knack for coaching fellow introverts, helping them find their superpowers in an extroverted world. Alan also specializes in coaching through transitions. He is the author of the book Don’t Just Have the Soup: 52 Analogies for
 Leadership, Coaching and Life
. An expert communicator and engaging
speaker, he spent more than two decades in public, government, and nonprofit communications—leading teams from 2 to more than 100 people. Inspired by a career transformation he brought about with the support of an executive coach, Alan decided to become a coach himself. He founded Peaceful Direction in April 2019.
Buy your copy of Don’t Just Have the Soup: 52 Analogies for
 Leadership, Coaching and Life

Connect  with Alan on LinkedIn

Support the Show.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to listen to Boss Responses. Have a question you'd like answered? Send it to info@bossresponses.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode of the Boss Responses podcast, host Treasa Edmond and guest co-host Alan Heymann discuss how purpose, goal setting, and strategic business planning play in a freelance or small business setup. Responding to a reader’s inquiry about feeling a lack of structure, they stress the importance of knowing "why" you started your business. They also advise on setting specific goals unrelated to income and making regular check-ins for business goals to cope with life changes and allow possible pivots. Finding joy in the work being done should be a central part of running a business. 

About the Hosts

Treasa Edmond is a content strategist and consultant, best-selling ghostwriter, and podcast host. On Boss Responses, Treasa and her weekly guest hosts explore how freelancers and small business owners can navigate the sometimes tricky path of client management and communication. She also teaches content professionals and small businesses how to create SEO-optimized content strategies so they can grow their businesses by connecting with their audiences.
Connect with Treasa on LinkedIn
Follow Boss Responses on Instagram

Alan Heymann, JD, PCC has a knack for coaching fellow introverts, helping them find their superpowers in an extroverted world. Alan also specializes in coaching through transitions. He is the author of the book Don’t Just Have the Soup: 52 Analogies for
 Leadership, Coaching and Life
. An expert communicator and engaging
speaker, he spent more than two decades in public, government, and nonprofit communications—leading teams from 2 to more than 100 people. Inspired by a career transformation he brought about with the support of an executive coach, Alan decided to become a coach himself. He founded Peaceful Direction in April 2019.
Buy your copy of Don’t Just Have the Soup: 52 Analogies for
 Leadership, Coaching and Life

Connect  with Alan on LinkedIn

Support the Show.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to listen to Boss Responses. Have a question you'd like answered? Send it to info@bossresponses.com

Treasa Edmond:

Welcome back to the Boss Responses podcast and day two with guest co-host Alan Heymann. Today we are going to look at a question from a reader about did they make a mistake? Should they actually do more business planning on their freelance business before they really hit the ground running? This is one of those hotly contested topics I see out there. Some people say, just go for it. Some people think that you really should do the planning because you are running a business. I guess I'm somewhere in the middle. I started out without all of that, but it worked out okay. If I had to go back, though, I might have done things differently. Let's go ahead and listen to the conversation and then you can let us know how you started your business.

Treasa Edmond:

If you're a freelancer, business owner or anyone who deals with clients, you're in the right place. I'm your host, Treasa Edmond. I've been dealing with clients and running my business for nearly two decades and in that time I've dealt with my share of doubt, imposter syndrome and not knowing what to say when a client asks a question I wasn't ready for. I created this podcast to empower you with the Boss Responses you need to grow your business. Each week, my guest co-host and I will bring you five episodes packed with practical insights. Monday through Thursday, we answer your questions, and Fridays we dive deep to explore how our co-host embraced their role as the Boss of their business.

Treasa Edmond:

Welcome to Boss Responses, Alan. I'm going to ask you the question today. It says did I make a mistake? I finally made the leap from a full-time position to freelancing. I did my research and was lucky enough to have several clients waiting for me, so I hit the ground running. I added more clients and while I'm earning what I want to earn right now, I feel like there's no structure to what I'm doing and I'm not actually achieving anything but earning money. I left my job because I wanted a sense of purpose and accomplishment. I'm starting to realize that I have a business, but no one is really running it. Should I take a few steps back and do more business planning before I move ahead?

Alan Heymann:

There are so many questions within this question that I just really enjoy. The first thing that I would probably ask this listener is what is it about the scenario you described that leads you to suspect or believe you've made a mistake? Because what I'm hearing is all kinds of success we're paying the bills, we're bringing in the revenue, we have client relationships and the listener didn't touch on it, but presumably they're doing some sort of work that they either enjoy or wanted to do. So all of those are things that people struggle with from time to time when they're in this line of work, and they're covered in this scenario. What isn't covered is something along the lines of, let's say, structure or strategy or vision.

Alan Heymann:

It's like I'm doing the work, but doing the work is only one of the necessary components of having a thriving and successful business. So what I might be hearing between the lines of the question is what is it all for? What is the why behind this effort that I'm making on behalf of these clients? That is getting me paid well, and for that I would be looking at some of the motivation behind the decision to leave the full-time employment world and set up the business in the first place. Why did I want to do this?

Treasa Edmond:

Yeah.

Alan Heymann:

And some of those whys and they're different for all of us, but we all have them. Some of them have nothing whatsoever to do with the business or the nature of the work itself. Let me explain. Some of them go freelance and start businesses because they have other things in their life, other people in their life that are important to them and they want to tend to that. And I count myself in that number as a person who is working generally considerably fewer hours than I did when I was employed by other people, so that I can spend time with my family and be home when my daughter comes back from school and that sort of thing. So that might be part of your why. And if that's part of your why and the work and the revenue are helping to facilitate that why, good on you. Fantastic, please, keep doing what you're doing. If the why has to do with the impact of the work itself, either through the clients that you're serving or just the nature of the work, examine that and figure out what's missing between that initial idea.

Alan Heymann:

I want to do this business because and what you're doing now? What is the disconnect? Is it the type of clients? Is it the frequency? Is it the size of the project. Is it the actual work itself that you're being asked to do? Are you, you know, let's say, a writer and they're asking you to edit all the time and you're just not crazy about editing anymore, that sort of thing? Those will help you and I think that if you can take a few steps back on a regular basis, call it a solo business retreat, as I've heard from another great source of podcast wisdom for freelancers.

Alan Heymann:

Call it just, you know, mid-year check-ins, either by yourself or with somebody you trust, and make sure that the work that you're doing, the clients you're doing it for, are aligned with either that initial sense of purpose that caused you to start your business in the first place, or whatever that sense of purpose has evolved into being since then. So should you take a couple of steps back to reassess a lot? Yes, I'm a fan of doing that at least a couple of times a year. The other thing as far as running the business is, to me, that speaks to processes and procedures, and I think those things will come over time. I think that once you've been through your first round of client cycles and your first round of estimated quarterly taxes and things of that nature. You'll start to get a rhythm for those things, or you'll start to develop a sense of where that's just really not your area of strength, and then you find somebody to help you with that.

Treasa Edmond:

Yes, I agree with all of that and I've felt this feeling before. I wanted to do this thing. I did it. I was doing it, I was earning the money. And then I also had this what am I really accomplishing? And I did the why thing. I did the set down for a day, clear my schedule, look at why I was doing what I was doing. None of it was because I wanted to earn money. I mean, the money was helpful in the why, but it wasn't the reason. And then I also looked at the parts of my business that felt uncomfortable to me, and those were generally accounting, because it's stressful. It brought stress every time I had to do it, anything like that. And then I did that. I looked at should I offload this, should I find a different system on how to do it? And in my case I actually found a software that made it so easy.

Treasa Edmond:

I'm a big fan of saying do it as you go, start lean, do what you need to do and then only add systems as you need them, because otherwise you can completely let your business fall apart because you're focused on nothing but building systems rather than actually doing your work. So definitely figure out why you want to do it. I would also recommend that you set some goals. If you're looking for that sense of purpose and accomplishment, what are you trying to accomplish? Set specific goals. They don't have to be income goals. They can be to work with a specific type of client or to work with your dream client, whatever that is. If you like working with nonprofits, if you want to give a certain amount of hours to nonprofits every year, put that goal in there and make it part of your business plan and then move forward.

Treasa Edmond:

I recommend that every and maybe this is just because I am a content strategist I think every small business needs a content strategy. You cannot have a content strategy unless you have business goals. So you should always have at least a couple of business goals so that you can move your business forward. Otherwise, you really are just doing a thing to do a thing. So have that goal, have that milestone, whatever it is you're working towards, but be working towards something rather than just working, because we can do that in a brick and mortar job.

Alan Heymann:

We can, and I also think there is some value in being in the moment in this work. So if you do have the ability, as you are zooming out, as you're thinking about your why, as you're establishing your business goals and holding yourself accountable to them, to step back every once in a while and to say wait a minute, I am doing work that I love for clients that I enjoy, and I'm making decent money at it, and maybe I'm doing something that I'm better at than most people I know. And how many folks out there in the world of work actually get to say that most days, not even every day that's pretty cool. So I definitely want to encourage staying in that space in the present year and now, as you're thinking about the future and how your business is gonna grow and why it exists.

Treasa Edmond:

And you'd mentioned doing the check-in every six months, and I think that's incredibly wise, because our lives change constantly and your why today will be different in six months. We have the ability to pivot slightly, to take that new why into effect, and people who are in full-time jobs often do not have that ability, so take advantage of that. But, yeah, set your goals, do your check-ins, do all of the things that Alan said, because that was all brilliant. Just find your joy in what you're doing and I think that will make a huge difference.

Alan Heymann:

For sure.

Treasa Edmond:

All right, thank you for joining us. Come back tomorrow for day three with Alan Heyman.

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