Being a Business
When you are a freelancer, you are basically a business. The goal for your business is to get the best possible clients, and then to keep them happy.
Do you need to be a Super Hero?
Many blog posts and even books have been written about this. About how you have to be the best in your field, always positive, always 100% engaged, always providing way better service than your client expects and pay for. Magically, you will morph into a world class CEO. You will become a marketing wizard. You will do business analysis and make your business plan, not to mention a strategy plan like a top Harvard professor. And then you will do market research, risk analysis, budgeting and come up with wonderful, creative ideas about how to kill your competition. And don't forget that you will lead your super duper sales division (you), that identify and reach out to potential clients, and then close the deals once you punch trough their defenses (sales is actually a profession that takes years of practice to master). All this without disrupting your 40 - 80 hours weekly work for your customer, where you are 100% focused, super positive, super responsive, and makes no mistakes.
Do you see the flaw here?
Shh... Please don't tell anyone, but it's actually not doable.
You cannot be a rock-star business person, economist, marketing guru and super salesman - and at the same time be the best in your professional field. What you can do is to strive every day to be the best possible you. Some times that will be the exceptional you. Other days it will be a tired and worn-out you.
Fortunately, your clients are human beings as well, and most of them understand this. You don't need to be brilliant every moment. But you do need to act professionally. That is, if you commit to something, you do whatever is in your power to deliver. You are responsive. You never lie. If there is a problem, you bring it up. You should set high standards for yourself. You should be forgiving with others.
I will not lecture about all the things you should do or don't in this article. In stead I will invite you on a journey into some key areas that is useful to think about for us freelancers.
Be an adult
You cannot be a successful freelancer if you are a child, physically or mentally. You need to be an adult. You need to think like an adult, and you need to act like an adult. You need to understand yourself and your motives. You need to understand others, and their likely motives.
Some people believe that being an adult equals a certain number of years lived. That you by some divine decree will morph into an adult at a certain age. That is not my experience.
What does it mean to be an adult then? How are adults different than children? Sure, adults have lived longer, and hopefully understands more and reasons better than kids. But what is it really that defies an adult?
I believe we can answer that question with a single verb: Responsible. Adults are responsible. Kids are not. The age when someone transforms from an irresponsible child into a responsible adult is not static. I know plenty of "adults", even old people, who are still acting irresponsible. They just never grew up to become actual adults.
Then, what does it mean to be responsible?
It means to take the full responsibility for your own life. As a responsible person, you claim 100% responsibility for your own life. No more blaming others for whatever went wrong. This is important to comprehend. Because, you will not succeed as a freelancer unless you have this mindset. As an adult, you cannot blame any misfortune on anyone. If you feel unhappy because your spouse is not understanding you, or not paying attention to your needs, you can not blame him or her. If you take responsibility for your life, you must handle it. Either talk openly with your spouse, and give him or her the care and attention he/she needs to bloom. Or get out of the relationship. As an adult, it is your responsibility to surround yourself with positive, intelligent people, people that give you joy and gets the best out of you. Any time you feel down because someone behaved badly, or put unrealistic demands on you, it's yours responsibility to say no, to be very clear about your priorities, and to end it. The only exception of course is your close family. You cannot just toss your parents, siblings or children away. But as an adult, you can understand what you need to do to make the relationships work. If your children drive you crazy, you have to remember that children do that, and that bringing them up was somehow your choice at some time in the past. They are your foremost responsibility, your first priority, always. Learn whatever you need to understand why they behave like they do, and how to deal with it in a good manner. Never blame your children for how you feel, how little energy or time you have or how bad your head or life hurts.
The same goes for every other aspect of your life. Never blame anyone else for anything. You are responsible. Nobody else. When misfortune hits you, remember that no matter what happens, the only relevant questions are: "What do I do now? How do I deal with this?" Don't waste time thinking about how bad you feel or how stupid somebody else is or how things could have been different if only (don't fill in the blanks) ...
Some times life sucks. Some times people you love die. Some times your feet are swept away by unfortunate events and you fall. This happens to everyone. Life is not fair. It never was. It never will be. When you were a child, you had the freedom to be irresponsible, to blame others for whatever happened (and you did!), to hang on to your parents or friends to deal with difficult or embarrassing situations. As a responsible adult you deal with it. You deal with whatever situation you are thrown into (or gotten yourself into). Ask you friends or close ones for advice if you need to, but when you choose what to do, be very clear to yourself that this is your choice, and whatever the outcome, you - and nobody else - is responsible.
The nice thing about this is that you stop wasting time replaying past disasters in your head. You stop blaming and re-blaming someone for whatever stupid thing they did to you or said to you. Actually, if you want to do this properly, you need to forgive anyone that has ever harmed you or hurt you. You can tell them that you forgive them, or you can just keep it in your heart. When you decide to forgive someone for something, even something really terrible, what happens is that your mind puts this issue to rest. If you don't, your unconscious mind will track the incident as unresolved, and spend energy working on how to get even. Unless you really plan to kill that person, this is just mental resources flushed out for no purpose what so ever. It actually hurts you and your performance. It don't make the offender suffer. It makes you suffer.
Another nice effect is that when you take 100% control of you life, you will feel empowered and in control of your life and of your future. This might be the most significant single change in your entire life. Going from being dependent on your parents, family, spouse, boss - to being totally free and independent. Knowing that you are able to do whatever you choose to do (within the limits of human constraints). That you can choose to take all the risks you need to in order to get the life you desire. If you are a freelancer (by choice), you already are on this path. Maybe you know all of this already. However, it's worth spending a few paragraphs here because if you don't take 100% responsibility for your life, you will fail. If all you want from life is a feeling of security and comfort, don't be a freelancer. Get a regular job and put your boss and your spouse in charge of your life until you are ready to step up and become an adult.
Now, let go of the past. Bring with you the lessons learned, and focus on the present and the future. Never ever again blame anyone for anything. Some disasters may be someones else's fault, but no matter what happens in your life, it's your responsibility to deal with it. How you respond to anything is your choice and your responsibility. Even how you feel about anything is your responsibility! In almost all cases, even if something can be said to be someones else's fault, you made it possible to happen. If you spend 3 months on a project and your client goes bankrupt, and you loose all the money you were supposed to get for all that hard work - it was you who decided to work for that client, and it was you who did so without taking precautions for this scenario. Blame no-one, bring with you the lessons learned and move on!
Write out your Goals
Do you have a clear idea about where you want in life? What kind of life you want? What kind of clients you want? How much money you want? What secret desires you want to realize? Probably you do. At least in a sense. Do you think you will achieve anything of this by moving around randomly, or just by doing what you always have been doing?
You are right. You won't!
I order to get somewhere more desirable than where you are right now, you need to know where that somewhere is, and then you have to move yourself in that direction. Like when you go to the supermarket. You will die of hunger if you don't know where you can find food, or if you know, but it gives you much more immediate pleasure to just move in random circles while you tickle your ears outside your house, and you give in to that. It probably sounds silly, but the thing is that most people, at least most people I know well, do not have clear goals with their lives, and they do little or nothing on a daily basis to move in any particular direction, not even to improve their lives just a little tiny bit. For too many people, all life is about is instant gratification. Instant gratification is great, some times, but not all of the time. Not if you want to get somewhere with you life. For example, if you are a freelancer, you just can't watch Netflix all day long. It will not bring you clients, and you will for sure loose whatever unfortunate clients you have.
So, you need clear goals.
There are written many, many books about goals and goal-setting. For simplicity, let's just agree that goals are a precondition for success. Actually, without goals, success is impossible, because you can only be successful when you reach a goal!
You need long term goals, and you need short term goals. The longer ahead you envision, the more likely you are to achieve significant success in your life. The really successful people (those you read about and admire) usually have a forward vision of at least 5 years. Often 10 or 20 years. They have great, significant goals that it will take a long time to achieve. But once set, when they align their short term goals with their long term goals, they move towards their long term goals in small steps every day for years or decades, until one day they arrive.
When you work on defining your long term goals, it is important that you know yourself, and that you know your innermost values. Your goals have to be consistent with your values. You can not have a goal to be a billionaire in 20 years, if you are a socialist and feel that money should be evenly distributed in the society. If you do, your values will likely force you to sabotage yourself, and you will end up just feeling miserable. Actually, some books I have read on the subject suggests that the very feeling of miserable is a result of not living in compliance with your values. If you do something that conflicts with your values, you feel bad, often without a clear understanding about why. So if you want to succeed, it is very important to identify your values, and then to make long term and short time goals that are aligned with them.
Your goals must also be consistent and pull in the same direction. This is actually hard, because it will force you to make difficult and painful choices.
Do an exercise:
- Sit down for about 30 minutes and write down the first 100 dreams and wishes that comes to mind.
- Identify your core values. Put them on paper.
- Pick 16 of the dreams or wishes as your goals, long term or short term. Be realistic. Make sure that each goal you choose are aligned with your values, and with each other.
You will most likely only be able to achieve 10 to 20 such goals within a few years. How many of your dearest dreams and wishes did you strike out in this exercise? Probably more then a few. But if you don't choose some, you are likely to loose all. Without focus and clear goals, you get nowhere, and few, if any, of your dreams and wishes will ever materialize.
I would recommend to make three types of goals
- Long term, 5 years or more.
- Short term, less than 1 year
- Personal goals
The long term goals could be to have a certain income, what state or country you would like to move to, what kind of work you would like to do. Will you still be a freelancer?
The short term goals are practical things you should get done or overcome in the next weeks or months. It could be a book you need to read, something you need to learn, the number of hours you want to work every week, a client you want to get (or get rid of). These goals should be concrete and measurable, and they must have a due date. If you fail to reach the goal by that date, and it still is relevant, set a new date. The idea is that when you have a realistic short term goal with a due date, your unconscious mind will get to work to make it happen. When you make such a goal, also make some notes about it somewhere, and define a next action. Almost all goals require you to make some actions in order to achieve them.
The personal goals can be a short list of the most important personal traits you want to obtain or hold on to. If you want to loose weight, put that on this list. If you want to be more passionate, put that on this list. If you want to enable a new habit, like meditation, put that on this list. I have kept "I am a good friend" on this list for years. Not because it is something I have not yet become (at least, that is what I like to believe), but because it is something that is very important to me that I want to hold on to and strengthen. Another rather abstract goal I keep on my list is "I do the right thing". I can't measure it. But whenever I need to make a decision, it motivates me to favor whatever decision that is aligned with my values and long term goals, rather than some instant gratification or easy choice.
The Personal Development author Brian Tracy suggests that we rewrite our list of goals every morning, and that we phrase the goals as if they are already achieved. "I weight x kilos by January 31st next year". "I earn x € per month by October 31st this year". I have done this for a couple of years, and the results are stunning. I did double my income in just a few years. Even when the goals were dim, with no date, like; "I am the best developer at the company where I work", I suddenly achieved it (in that particular example, the CEO one day gathered all the developers together and used me as an example for everyone to follow).
So, write down your long term, short term and personal goals every morning just after you wake up. Keep the list short (10 - 30 goals). Keep your goals realistic. If not you may get the opposite effect of what you want and become demotivated. Don't be afraid to change your goals or formulations. As you evolve, some goals will become less important to you, and new goals will find you. Doing this every morning, you start your day with a clear focus on where you want to arrive. This makes it much easier to stay on target during the days, weeks and months to come. This makes it doable to move a few steps in the right direction every day.
A new businesses with a business plan have a significant better chance to succeed than a new business without one. Not because people with a business plan use it as a map and navigate from it. The opposite is actually true - once the business plan is written, it it usually put away in a folder or drawer somewhere and forgotten about. The value, it seems, comes from the thinking. When you formulate a business plan, you think a lot. You think about your market, your economy, what obstacles you are likely to bump into, and how to deal with them. You assert your strengths and your weaknesses. How to compensate for your weaknesses. How to utilize your strengths. All this thinking creates insights and value. Even if you, as a freelancer, don't plan to (or can) take in investors (that is the sole reason why many startups bother with a business plan in the first place) you will create value by going trough the process of making a business plan for your enterprise (you).
Planning is actually quite important. It is impossible to run a successful business over time without planning.
Once you have a goal, you should make a plan about how to reach it. Ask yourself how you can reach your goal. This is where you stop dreaming and get to work. What do you need in order to reach your goal? New knowledge? Get a book. Get a book-shelf if you need to. Read. Play. Learn. What actionable steps can you take today to get moving? Write them down. Write down all the preconditions and all the broader steps you need to take in order to arrive at your goal. This is actually project management, but as a single person enterprise, you can keep it simple and just call it a plan. Do this for all your concrete plans. Do it even for the dim goals, like "I am a good friend.". What makes a good friend? Compassion? Be aware on your own feelings and responses when you are around your friends. Listening skills? Shut up and listen, truly listen, without making up replies or jokes when your friends talk to you. Just listen, and then show your friend that you understand what she means. Everybody likes a good listener. Your clients like good listeners. Make a plan to become a better listener.
When you have a list of all the preconditions, and all the steps you have to go trough to reach your goal, then prioritize and sequentialize. What action depend on some other action(s) to be completed before it can be done? Then, when you start working on the project, start with the most important actions that can be done right now. Not the funniest or easiest or most interesting action. Always prioritize by significance. Do the most important work first. Once you are working on your project, make corrections on the plan as you go. Be flexible and realistic. Learn from your mistakes. Always question your assumptions. The moment you realize that an assumption is wrong, stop working and revise your plan. Get it right! Then move on.
Keep your plans on paper. At least when you do the initial planning. If you have some computer software for planning you may want to move it there when you are done planning. But don't let stupid software create friction in your creative process. Use paper. The interaction between your brain and the muscles in your hand works best when you write on paper. At least that is what I have read, and that's how it works for me.
Planning is a creative process. Visualize. Make small drawings or sketches, diagrams, - whatever stimulates your creativity. You could even make small comic stripes to identify the problem you want to solve, or the goal, and then how to solve it. (It don't have to be professional grade - I can't draw a straight rectangle, but I still use simple symbols resembling a comics stripe from time to time to visualize some problem or solution for myself).
One way to approach planning if you don't have an obvious path, is to sit down and look thoroughly at the goal. Then ask yourself: "What is the problem?" "What else is the problem?" And then, "what else is the problem?". Go on until you have described every angle of the problem. Then you ask yourself: "What is the solution?" "What else is the solution?" Keep repeating that question until you have a broad selection of solutions. Then pick the best solution (which is usually the simplest one) and start writing down the actions, priorities and dependencies.
In project management it is essential to clearly define the desired outcome for the project, and the time-line for when significant mile-stones should be ready. You may find it useful to apply these principles to your plans as well. This will give you some clarity for where you stand, and it is a good tool to make larger projects, that may not be urgent (like doubling your income), move forward over time.
Very often you will be part of a team, and your client will handle the project management for the work you do for them. All you need to do then is to write the code and report your progress. But when the day arrives when a client delegates the project management to you, it is essential that you know how to break an assignment (a specification for a project) down to actions, sub-actions and how to apply a realistic time-line, and then how to stick to it. Doing this up front will also pinpoint missing or contradicting parts of the specifications, so you can deal with that before you give an estimate for how long it will take to complete the assignment, and what it will cost.
If you have long and short term goals, as suggested above, you must move in the direction towards your goals. The way to do this is to include them in your plans.
Keep yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily plans of how to allocate your time. Update the broader perspective every month. Update the weekly plans once a week. Make the daily plan in the evening, the day before.
One way to plan a week, is to first go to the calender and assign blocks of time. You allocate the time you need to take care of your dogs and cats and family, hobbies and personal life first. Then you allocate blocks for actual work. I do this in a spreadsheet, so that I know how many hours I have allocated for work, each day of the week. Then I allocate time to projects from the pool of available time. First the most important and urgent projects, then the important and less urgent ones. When there is no more unallocated time, I have planned my week.
During my days I measure the time spent on the different projects with a time tracker application. I use one I have made myself, whid, but that does not matter. Use whatever works for you. By the end of each day, update the spreadsheet with the time spent during that day, and how much time you spent on each project. This gives you a 100% overview of where you stand compared to where you aught to stand. If something comes up and you burn hours on something else, you can make corrections to your plan, and in the worst case, inform your client early about changes in your deliveries.
You will never have enough time to do everything you feel you should do. This can cause stress, and if you try to compensate by working all the time, you may burn out and become incapable of doing any work what so ever. So what is important is to not get too stressed, and to work within the limits of your actual capacity.
When it comes to stress, I believe in some of the ideas behind David Allen's Getting things Done or just GTD methodology. One of his basic ideas is that the human brain can only really deal with one thing at any time.
If you think that you should walk the dog, the brain want you to walk the dog right here and right now, even if you are in your office or on an airplane, 10.000 km's away from your beloved dog. If you then also think that you should start looking for a new client, your brain short circuits as it cannot both walk the dog and find a new client right here and right now. As you probably have experienced more than once, your brain is not very good at prioritizing. It's likely to want to do whatever you just thought about, no matter how important that is, right now. (Marketers use this particular human trait ruthlessly). When you have many such unresolved issues, things you have thought about doing, or unresolved loops as Allen calls them, your brain will keep reminding you about then from time to time (often when you cannot do anything about it, like when you try to get to sleep) and it will be terrified about the chance of it forgetting any of them. Since the brain cannot distinguish between the important loops (sending the next invoice) and the not so important (buying ice cream), it will eventually drain you for mental energy and create tremendous stress. Davis Allen's advice is to write all the things you want to do down on paper, and then revise them relatively frequently, like once a week. When your brain realizes that you actually have a sense of control on your stuff, it can allow itself to relax a bit and rely on your lists for a kind of off-site storage of your precious tasks. It may sound weird, but in my own experience, it works. When all the things I think about doing, and have yet not done or decided upon, are written down and revised from time to time, I feel less stress! I have more energy.
Another important thing to deal with in order to reduce stress is procrastination. Procrastination is the Achilles' heel for almost all creative people. You better keep the Panic Moster at bay! Or you will really be stressed out.
I have developed several strategies to deal with procrastination. One of the more successful is actually a side effect of measuring the time I spend on projects all the time. When I see that it's noon, and I lag behind on the "Worked Today" measurement in my time tracker application, I get aware about my procrastination and I can break out of it before it consumes me.
Another strategy that works for me is to work for a few hours before breakfast every morning. That way I am in a mental state of "working" when I read the newspaper and eat, and its' easy to get back to work. If I start the day by eating and reading, I often find myself spending half the day reading, eating and drinking coffee, without even realizing it before it's too late to catch up.
Finally, when you have a good strategy for allocating time and you have found a way to deal with procrastination, - how do you work as effectively as you can without building up stress? Here our old friend Brian Tracy comes to rescue once again. He suggests a method he call "Single Mindedly Focus". What you do is to clear your mind and focus on the task ahead. Then you work on it without interruptions or breaks until it is done. No looking at email. No looking at Facebook or Linkedin. No sending SMS'es or checking news. Just stay on your task until it's done. This method works miracles when it comes to what you achieve with your time. Of course, it require some planning for us programmers to break a chunk of work down to something that can be completed in an hour or two. Just be crystal clear with yourself about what you will do now, and then take a small break or a cup of coffee when you have completed the task. By not multitasking, you avoid stress, you perform at your very best, and when you focus deeply on whatever you are doing, you are much more likely to move into flow and also to have a great time. I believe that this way of working, over time, will improve our attention-span, and make it simpler to read long articles (like this one) or books. Something the Internet Generations are about to lose. As a high value freelancer, this may be one of the traits that make you stand out from the crowd.
I'm pretty sure that you already have a clear idea about what success is, for you. Immature people (which unfortunately equals most of them) will judge your success from their own perception; like being filthy rich or having a nice house or a handsome and rich husband (and remember that right now, at this point in history, you have the freedom to get yourself a trophy rich-and-handsome husband no matter what gender you happen to be!) However, I will call you successful when you reach your most important goals. Goals that are aligned with your core values. If you are a dedicated software developer, such a goal could be to have a popular open source project on github with a thousand stars. Or it could be to be recognized as an expert on a complex programming language like C++. Or it could be a million other things that most people would not even recognize as desirable.
Unless your core values, and goals, lean toward sleeping a lot and consume substances, there are a few traits you could develop that is generally recognized as common in successful people.
Disclaimer: There is actually a lot of research done into what makes some people successful, and there are written thousands of books on the subject. Much of the methodology is disputed by people I consider intelligent, like studying the traits (for example the willingness to take risks) in people who make successful companies, while not looking for the same traits in people who fail. I will present a few things I have picked up from books and blogs over the years, that I believe is significant - but I cannot say with certainty that they work. Or that that they will work for you.
First of all: Do not be afraid to fail. All successful people fail. They fail again and again, until they succeed. Courage and endurance is absolutely essential to success. The important ting is to learn form your failures. When you fail you have learned one more thing that don't work, and you are one step closer to success.
The key constraints that holds you back from trying new things is only in your mind. You are your own worst enemy when it comes to daring to do what you intuitively understand is best or desirable. Just do it. Try. In most cases you come better out from taking some risks, than to always hold back. Yes - I have lost a few customers over the years by taking risks (like approaching them in the wrong way), but all in all I have won much more than I have lost (and yes, I realize that I probably sound like my late grandfather when he swore that he had won more than he had lost gambling over the years).
After accepting that you some times will fail, the three most important traits for success is:
- Ability to Prioritize
- Ability to Deliver Swiftly
Without self-discipline you cannot succeed as a freelancer. Undisciplined people can to a certain degree outsource the disciplining to their boss. As a freelancer you are your boss, so that is just something you have master. If this is a weak spot you have to figure out what works for you, and stick to it. Be aware that self-discipline is powered by will-power, and that will-power is a limited resource. You wake up with a limited supply, and as you consume it over the day, at some point you may run out of it. Therefore, I try to do all the important stuff as early in the day as I can. If I run out of will-power, while i still have unfinished, important stuff to do, I usually get some sleep - one to two hours, which is sufficient to resupply me with will-power and mental energy to work for another 3 - 4 hours. This is not an efficient way to burn time, so I try to avoid it and use my will-power carefully.
Mental energy is another limited resource. If I do boring stuff, I tend to burn it fast, and I run out of mental energy early in the afternoon. If I do things I find interesting, my mental energy may last until late in the evening. No matter how much self-discipline you have, if you run out of mental energy you have to stop working. Going on beyond that point is dangerous, and you will soon experience symptoms of a burnout. Go on for a little longer, and you may find yourself unable to work at all for months.
The ability to prioritize is another key to success. Always work on the most valuable of your tasks. That is, the one that moves you fastest towards your short-term or long-term goal(s). When you work for customers, the most valuable task is whatever the customer value most. If you don't know for sure what your customer value most, right now, - then make no assumptions. Just ask them.
Very often people confuse urgency with importance. It is essential for your own success not to forget the stuff that is important but not urgent, like exercise and learning new skills. When you plan your weeks, and prioritize what you want to do, make sure to prioritize some of the things that builds the foundation for your future success, as well as whatever is urgent right now. Do something to move towards your long-term, most desirable goals, every day. If you don't, they are not really goals, just beautiful dreams, vaguely glimmering at the end of the rainbow.
The ability, or better - the habit to deliver swiftly - is absolutely necessary in order to excel. Here freelance don't matter. The people who develop this trait are the ones that climb the corporate ladder, the ones who gets promoted and the ones clients wants to deal with. Always respond to enquirers as fast as you can (without rushing it - remember - you have to be professional). Always finish the most important tasks first, and if possible, deliver or deploy as soon as you are done and confident that the quality is good. If your client has something that is urgent, don't hesitate to throw in some extra hours. (Of course, without sacrificing your health, or important relations - and not all of the time. If you have a client from hell who tries to take advantage of you - ask for more money - significantly more money - when he constantly expect extra hours. You will be amazed about how much time such assholes really are willing to wait, if there is a cost attached to their exploitation).
To be successful, you must avoid friction. Friction is whatever that creates obstacles or irritation in your interaction with others. Respond quickly. Be short and crystal clear. Never over-complicate. Try to understand the other persons point of view and motives. Then communicate on his or her terms to get things clarified and executed swiftly.
In your communication with others, always be kind and understanding. One of the holy grails in sales is to make your customer feel special. Take notice about your customers values, personal traits and personality. If there are things you like about the person, you can comment on it. Never lie, don't overdo it. But a single comment, about something that you truly appreciate about that person, once in a while, makes wonders to strengthen the relationship.
You don't need to be a super-hero in order to be a successful freelancer. You do however need to realize that being a business is more demanding than just being a craftsman. That's probably one of the good reasons why corporations have occurred. For many people it is possible to do a relatively good job specializing in one profession, like for example writing code, or managing projects or managing people or selling products or services or marketing something. Knowing what you need to know from each of these fields, and juggling hats so you are in the right mode at the right time (most of the time) is much more demanding, and certainly not for everyone.
The truth is however that if even if all you really want, is to be among the best employees in a normal job, you still need to develop most of these skills. If you just act like a drone, doing whatever you are told, providing no extra value, you will not be valued.
To be a successful business, you need to be and act as a responsible, honest adult. You need to know yourself and make realistic plans in harmony with your core values. You need to manage your time, track your progress and stay on track in the direction towards your goals. You need to prioritize well, and you need to be responsive, tidy and swift. And then of course, you need to be good, really good, at your chosen profession. As the preconditions becomes habits, and you get to spend most of your time in flow, doing what you really love to do, being a business is really not all that bad. Because - happiness is not only your reward when you arrive at one of your goals - it is also your reward when you move towards your goal, all those swift hours in the state of flow, and all those evenings when you recognize that today, today you did really great!
Whichever steps you decide to take to move yourself towards success, constantly remind yourself of their value and revise your tool chest. One way to do that is to write a blog post about it, sharing your thoughts with others to get their feedback and experience. Feel free to link your views in the comment section below.
In this article I merely scratch the surface. If you are serious about being a nice little happy business, here is a short list of some of the books that I found helpful:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen
- Maximum Achievement, Brian Tracy
- Be Brilliant Every Day , Andy Cope and Andy Whittaker
- How to Instantly Connect with Anyone: 96 All-New Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, Leil Lowndes