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The Fearful Freelancer: 05 Mindset Tips to Help Your Business Grow

When I embarked on my freelancing journey in 2002, I was gripped by fear. My wife was not employed at the time, we had two children, and the weight of a California-sized mortgage payment loomed over me. The overwhelming financial responsibility of providing for my family, solely relying on myself, was paralyzing. Fortunately, I had cultivated strong relationships with friends who held decision-making positions in various companies, and project opportunities began to come my way.

Despite experiencing robust revenue growth, my fear prevented me from expanding my team. I rationalized, “I’m already worried about providing for my own family; I can’t bear the additional burden of supporting someone else’s family too.” However, after two years of grueling 80-hour workweeks, I found myself compelled to hire my first employees.

Once I accepted the reality of what lay ahead for both myself and my business, things began to grow. Our revenue surged, our team grew, and our service offerings expanded. In 2015, I sold my agency after generating millions in revenue working with hundreds of different clients.

This image was created using ChatGPT and its new integration with Dalle-3. You can use prompts in ChatGPT and ask for images. The prompt for this image was “give me an image of a scared freelance graphic designer.” Then I had ChatGPT resize the image for the dimensions I use in my newsletter articles. I know there is a contingent of designers out there adamantly against A.I. tools in the design workflow. I definitely understand that side of the conversation. But these tools aren’t going away, at some point we will have to figure out how we will use them in our workflow. That is what I’m doing here…just figuring it out…so don’t hate on me for using A.I. You should be figuring it out too.

Here are some valuable lessons I learned during that journey from freelancer to agency:

01 Fear Is a Motivator

Starting a business is a scary endeavor. Every entrepreneur encounters that paralyzing fear at some point. Business fear can either stop you in your tracks or motivate you to take action. Choose action and you and your business will be just fine.

02 Have a Little Faith

Things will fall into place. Everything is going to work out just fine. Success will find you and you will find it. Keep pushing forward. Countless individuals with less talent than you have built successful businesses. You can too.

03 Embrace Growth

Embrace your business’s growth; don’t fight it. I needlessly subjected myself to anguish and long work hours by delaying hiring people. Expanding your team isn’t as scary as it may seem. Crunch the numbers. If you’re buried with work and revenue is pouring in, take the plunge. Allow your business to grow. Stop fighting against its natural evolution.

04 Anticipate Business Growth

Did you know that in the past 92 years, the stock market (S&P 500) has posted positive gains in 74% of those years? In other words, the stock market grew larger than the preceding year 74% of the time. It’s highly likely that the same pattern will hold true for your business. At the very least, you can expect your revenue to exceed the previous year’s. So, don’t overly worry about a sluggish year, and stop assuming that your future business will be less prosperous than your current business. There is a 74% chance (AT LEAST) that your next year will be even bigger than this year.

05 You Get One Shot at Life

You only have one life and one career, so why not seize the opportunity? Build the business you’ve always envisioned and craft the life you dream of. If, by chance, it doesn’t pan out as expected or you discover that you hate freelancing or building an agency, you can always go get a job, smarter and more capable than before.

These are just a few insights I hope will help those of you grappling with challenges in your current business or inspire you to take the leap and build the business you’ve always envisioned.

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.