Since October 2021 I’ve been working closely with groups of freelancers helping them to get their important work done by setting intentions, reviewing progress, identifying challenges and celebrating wins. Over the weeks and months, I’ve noticed that many of the biggest challenges faced are related to mindset rather than the nuts and bolts of running a business. This is particularly true of, although not limited to, people in their first few years of freelancing.
It got me thinking about what kind of resources and support is available to people starting out on their freelance careers. I thought back to when I got started. Like many, I attended workshops and courses that covered topics like:
- writing a business plan
- bookkeeping and tax
- legal compliance
- marketing and sales
But I don’t recall seeing anything that addressed or supported the mindset shifts needed to transition from employment to working independently.
I tested my memory by talking to other freelancers about their experiences and the challenges they faced when starting out. They confirmed my suspicions that when setting out to work for yourself there are many intangible things to grapple with:
- unlearning old habits and embracing the flexibility of self-employment
- the many unknowns about what’s allowed or appropriate to say and do
- that overwhelming feeling associated with taking on all the roles required to run a business
- the lack of support and safety net, or just having someone around to bounce an idea off
All of this means that taking those first steps as a freelancer can be really really scary!
Filling a gap
I wanted to do something to address this and started sketching out ideas for a group coaching programme.
Initially, I came up with a range of themes to explore:
- values (what’s important to you about the work you do and how you do it)
- identity (owning it and communicating it to others)
- getting things done (motivation, time and energy management, accountability etc)
- boundaries (personal and professional)
- community and support (isolation, loneliness, asking for help etc)
There’s no reason why this couldn’t be the outline for the content of a 1:1 coaching programme. However, I believe much more can be gained here from exploring these topics with a group of peers.
First of all, being freelance can be a lonely experience so any chance to come together and spend time with others in the same situation is a plus. Add to that the opportunity to hear a variety of perspectives and experiences, and the benefits of mutual support.
What I’ve experienced working with small groups of freelancers like this before is that a genuine sense of camaraderie emerges.
The pilot programme
I’m now in the position to test this idea with a pilot group. It’s initially open to anyone in their first three years of freelancing.
We’ll meet virtually for 90-minutes every other week over a period of 12 weeks from June to August.
I will create:
- a safe and welcoming space for us to meet
- a structure to guide our conversations and encourage review and reflection
- coaching activities to help broaden our thinking around each theme
- opportunities for ongoing feedback
You will experience:
- normalisation of the challenges freelancers face when starting out
- coaching activities to help you identify:
- obstacles you’re facing and approaches to tackle them
- what’s going well and where your strengths lie
- time to create practical action plans and next steps
- connection with, and support from, a group of peers
On top of that, you‘ll get a hefty discount. I’ve chosen to offer this discount on the pilot for a number of reasons:
- There may be teething problems… this is the first run through of the programme in its entirety and there’s going to be room for improvement.
- I’m looking for something in return… improvement comes through feedback, so I’ll be asking the pilot group for their comments and suggestions throughout.
- I’m still working out the pricing and payment options… cashflow can be a big challenge, especially when starting out, and it’s often difficult to justify spending money on ourselves. I don’t want money to be a barrier to participation and yet I still need to earn a living, so I’m exploring various options.
This post covers a lot of the questions I’ve been asked about the programme so far. I’m sure there are more left unanswered.
Or if you’ve got enough info and can’t wait to sign up to the pilot, get in touch to let me know you’re in!