As I have chronicled here, I decided to leave my full-time job in publishing two years ago to pursue a more balanced life that prioritized the needs of my family. While I walked away from the 9 to 5 and a steady paycheck, that in no way diminished my desires to stay in the publishing game. Last year, my freelancing work took off and exceeded my expectations. After stepping back a few times and asking myself if I was really ready to be back to work with two preschool-aged kids at home, I decided that I was 100 percent committed to continuing my career, but on my own terms.
In the last six months or so, I’ve changed my mindset from freelancer to entrepreneur. I’ve also started owning an identity of “writer” in addition to “editor.” These mental adjustments have opened doors for me as I decide how to grow and sustain my business. As a freelancer, life runs in cycles of feast or famine. However, I think by adopting the “entrepreneur” hat, I’ve given myself permission to be more proactive in controlling my workload (or so I hope!). In the last few months I’ve taken several steps in growing my business, all of which have kept me on my toes. Here’s what I’ve done:
- Created a loose business plan outlining how I’d like to grow in the next few years. Ideally, I’d like a certain mix of individual and publisher clients to keep both my extrovert and “antisocial-extrovert” sides happy. Putting my thoughts to paper and monetizing my dreams in a spreadsheet has been eye opening and inspiring.
- Opened a small business checking account. Things were getting too complicated to manage within our checking account, so I opened a business account. This will help me “pay” myself in regular increments by transferring sums to our personal checking account from this new account. It also helps me keep funds for taxes and business expenses, which are painful to note in a personal account. This step has been a little bit logistically annoying, but in the long run I’ll be glad I did it. I’ve also just taken steps to accept credit cards from clients. Boy, does that feel good to put in place!
- Started accepting a wider variety of work. I’ve taken on writing jobs, ghost writing gigs, and hybrid writing-editing jobs in the last few months. I love to edit (and there is a weird side of me that enjoys digging through reference lists), but I need to diversify my work to keep my sanity. Writing is a passion, and I am feeling confident enough in myself to do it professionally. I did a lot of writing in my full-time job, but it took me some time to believe I could charge for it (even though some of you’ve been dedicated enough to read my musings here for almost seven years!).
- Become an official business. I hadn’t taken the time or effort to review the necessary paperwork to operate under my business name because I’d just been freelancing under my personal name. However, once work started flowing in under my business name, I knew it was time to get myself organized. I registered my business with the state, started paying necessary sales tax (I have to in PA for editing services!), and adopted the identity of small business owner.
Now, while all of these developments are super exciting, I have had to compromise in other areas of my life. I work a lot of nights and weekends, so Steve and I tag team hanging with the kids and sometimes have little time together. I don’t get to read for pleasure as much anymore and sometimes pine for the “simpler” days that I had a few summers ago when I was on professional hiatus and hanging out with my two (very) littles. And home-cooked meals and sticking to our budget have become more complicated. There’s only so much I can control at any given period of time.
This is certainly an exhilarating professional adventure that I hope to continue, so I’ll keep you updated now and then on how things are going. I always appreciate outside perspective and support, so drop me a line if you have anything to add to my thoughts on growing a small business while raising young kids.