Finding Your Stride

The chaos that occurs as a result of being a sole proprietor and in working from home is surprising to most. Sure, rolling out of the bed and having only a few steps to walk beats having to get in the car and dealing with the headaches of commuting. However, there is a great deal of self-discipline that one must have in order to be successful. I assure you, I didn’t just immediately become self-disciplined while working from home. There still continues to be a lot of trial and error. Some days, like today, when my husband is off from work I find that I feel a lot less interested in working. Rather, I prefer to spend it in his company. We’ll sleep in, watch television. Simply, we relax. And although in those moments I sometimes still feel the strain of figuring out what to do in order to make ends meet, I also know that downtime is required in the pursuit of success. If you burn out you’re no good to anyone.

With perseverance you’ll start to make it. It may not be at the time you want it to or even in the way you expect, but it does come. For the first few months I languished as I reduced my hourly rate in order to gain clients and more experience being a full-time virtual assistant. And despite what some may say, being in the right place at the right time also helps. One of my current clients referred me to another of my current clients and then he, to another. And while I don’t always like working multiple projects, they do give me a great deal of variety and each capitalize on some of my favorite personal skill sets. But don’t think that now everything is great. To the contrary, I’m still very nervous as being an independent contractor doesn’t give you job security, not in the sense that one may theoretically have in a “regular” job. When you find a client and a project that is long-term, then those are the ones you get excited about.

It’s sometimes hard to accept that as an independent contractor you do miss out on what I consider passive income for a regular 9-to-5 employee, PTO. Personal time off can happen whenever you like but in these cases if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. That’s why it’s extremely important that you find something you enjoy doing because if you’re at all like me, you only get paid for each minute you actually work. That means those in-between times when you’re surfing the Internet and you realize an hour has gone by, you’re not getting paid. You’ll also discover that while there may be things you’re really good at, they may not be things you find joy in when you try to monetize it. What I mean is that sometimes, when you have the added pressure of having to do something versus doing it at your leisure, it may not be something you want to take on in your professional life.

At the end of the day all you need to accept is that the good and the bad, this too shall pass. Don’t forget that there are plenty of people and resources that can assist you in figuring out what you really should be doing with your business. I’m still learning. Even now I’m still refining my offerings, developing better service agreements and other things that I know will come more easily with more time and experience in this venture. I’m not yet at a point where I make enough for me to be financially comfortable again. But I no longer beat myself up over the inevitability of doubt and the occasional bad day. It’s like what Dora from Disney’s Finding Nemo says, you “just keep on swimming.”

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