Last month was hectic, cozy, fun and a huge milestone, as it's been already 3 years since I went to the Chamber of Commerce to register my own PR & Marketing agency: Authentic Chic Travel & Lifestyle, and officially became a founder, small business owner, CEO, COO and CFO all in one, so pretentious right?!:P
Call it whatever you want, but the fact is that I have been a freelancer for 3 years now and am still going strong, sometimes even to my own surprise😊
Being a freelancer / small business owner is quite insecure, there’s always that little voice in the back of your mind saying: ‘What if I don’t make it, what if I don’t find new clients, what if I don’t get enough projects this year, what if I don’t make enough money…etc.’
My company survived!
But after 3 years I can finally state that I did make it, my company survived, new clients and projects kept coming, and my business kept growing. Sometimes it's hard to realize, cause I didn’t expect anything when I started. I honestly just wanted to do fun projects and work with nice people, while being my own boss.
Because of that I do feel it’s important to reflect every year, before starting a new one. Last month I looked back on all the projects and trips I did for 2019 in order to really appreciate and cherish my accomplishments!
Reflecting & sharing
I wanted to share this with you here, not to brag, but for you to be able to learn from my achievements and the lessons I learnt the hard way already.
Opposed to making new year’s resolutions I prefer to count my blessings every year, and upon reflection I’m happy to conclude that I achieved several of my personal and company goals for 2019! I've been able to do some successful campaigns for great partners, and travel more for work, than privately. But I also stayed home for longer periods, and surrounded myself with positive and nice people, with whom I was able to collaborate more often!
These goals were very important to me and I’m proud and grateful that I managed to realize them. I am however still struggling with my work-travel-life-balance, so this remains an important focus for 2020. Along with a more healthy mentality towards social media, about which you can read more in this very personal blog: content creators-freelancers burnout prevention tips.
2019 in review
For me it really helps to make lists to realize what I actually achieved, before starting with new goals.
Looking back on 2019 I found out that;
I did 10 shorter and 2 longer trips abroad, for 20 different tourism boards.
I had the pleasure to set up 4 custom-campaigns for 8 tourism boards and 5 brands.
Throughout 2019 I've worked with 22 different companies/brands,
and did collabs with 28 unique luxury hotels and so many talented photographers and fellow content creators.
I had the honor to manage 4 social media accounts for 2 steady partners the whole year through,
and do private consults and custom masterclasses for 4 companies and freelancers.
Best, but also most stressful year so far
This list gives a good impression why this was my company's best year so far. But also the year I struggled the most with my work-life balance, causing quite some stress, which made me lose my balance and feel very drained and down sometimes.
I realized that, instead of growing and running a financially successful business, which feels nice short term, for me it's even more important to feel happy! To keep doing what I love, with fewer projects, while staying balanced and only working with inspiring and fun people.
Lessons learnt the hard way
I have unfortunately also met my share of nasty people along the way. The 'vampires', the ones that drain your energy, live off your ideas and try to use you, or poach your hard-earned contacts. The brands that only want to pay for your services in 'exposure':(
And the clients (or 'start ups' who say that they don't have a lot of money because they're still small) that only want to pay bottom price, know better all the time, don't respect your time, treat you like an assistant, don't recognize your value, or don't want to pay at all in the end, even when you've already delivered.
I've learned to recognize these better over the years, and try to ban and avoid them as much as possible. Those are not the ones you should want to work with, they're not the right clients for you anyway, they ruin your business value and spoil all the fun!
Balancing life & business working alone
As a freelancer you constantly have to hustle and network for new clients and projects, you have to be independent, focused, responsible and versatile, as you do almost everything yourself (if you don't want to take on the responsibility and extra cost of staff).
And as a consultant you should be service-oriented, commercial and flexible, which makes it even harder to maintain your work-life balance, which is personal for everyone.
For me a healthy work-life balance means fewer trips, unless they're for important campaigns, not too many different clients and therefore usually in the end also less income.
Luckily I never started this to get rich, I just wanted to create and follow my passion, so I have to remember to always stay true to that.
That's also why I waited quite a while to take the leap and thought long and hard for many years about the best way to start my own company, without taking too much risk or having to invest. You can read all about that here: 9 tips to start your own business.
15 important lessons learnt
Looking back I realize that I did learn a lot the past 3 years, unfortunately also the hard way sometimes, but I've certainly come a long way.
The world is not black and white, and is constantly changing, especially in marketing, online- and social media business you have to be flexible and keep evolving!
Having said all that, here's summed up the 15 key points which I've learnt to be vital to survive as a girl boss;
Focus, work hard and persevere
Give attention, value, love and appreciation in order to receive
Be generous and trust abundance
Diversify your services, and adapt to market needs
Dose your networking in a more effective way
Build a positive community and fan base
Work with fun people that lift you up, and collaborate to widen your service offering
Attract the right clients by rejecting the wrong ones
Invest in, and promote your (personal) brand/business selectively
Share your knowledge, limited, or for a fee
Don't sell yourself short by lowering your price, the client’s budget should not set your value!
Share both your successes and failures/lessons learnt (on social media)
Find your own style and be consistent to stand out
Stay true to yourself and follow your passion to be able to do what you love
Find a balance that works for you!
Of course you have to find your own way, and as I said in #15 see what works for you.
I always Googled anything I didn’t know, followed courses, watched webinars, and still always try to listen to my intuition, trust my gut and reflect more often.
When in doubt you can always ask for advice from fellow business owners, hire a coach, or go to freelancer sites, online platforms or Facebook groups dedicated to this.
Google, ask for help or book a private session
I'm also happy to help, and you can always request a private consult to pick my brain and help you analyze your business to set up a strategy together. At the moment I don’t do group workshops any more, because I prefer one-on-one sessions, but you can always contact me here or by mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, if you think we’re the right match.
I however also wrote many blogs which can hopefully help you, and are totally free. To read more about my lessons learnt on social media, how to build your own brand and other business tips, find more blogs on this page!
Are we Insta friends already? Just click on the picture above, follow and make sure to leave a comment, always happy to connect!