The short story is I unleashed the inner frickin’ awesomeness, gave everyone the virtual finger and plowed through all the negative talk like a horny gorilla that just spotted its mate.
The long story is it took a lot of work to get rid of the fears holding me back and to develop the strength to flex my “I don’t give a shit” muscle enough to get passed all the B.S. Fortunately, the best methods to overcoming the biggest obstacles all involve cultivating the right mind set.
Don’t quit your day job but get off your ass
The first thing that happened was I made the decision that I was done with the 9-5 grind.
Even so, I knew I couldn’t just quit my day job as much as I wanted to. I decided to build my business first.
Recently, Chris Guillebeau, published The $100 Startup which explains how people can opt out of traditional employment and create the time and income to pursue what they find meaningful for $100 or less. Natalie Sisson is launching the $100 Change Initiative which is a program empowering you to start your dream project or business in 100 days for $100. But when I was starting out I didn’t know if I could start a business for $100 or $1,000 or even $1. The only thing I knew was that if I didn’t take a first step—even a teeny one—I wouldn’t have any momentum at all. A tiny step was a lot closer to my goal than no step.
I bought my domain name and one month of hosting for about $16, literally the money I was going to spend on a couple of beers at dinner. I started connecting with friends on Facebook. I offered one hour of consulting for $75 and almost instantly I found a friend who was interested.
So ultimately, I made my first $75 for an investment that amounted to the cost of two import beers at a bar.
Invest in coaching
I’m a huge believer in business coaching. I have hired coaches for previous business endeavors and it works. Part of it I think has to do with the skills they have to teach and the other part has to do with having someone ride your fearful ass and hold you accountable for taking action.
Most recently, I honed my copywriting skills with Ashley Ambirge and her TMF Crew at The Middle Finger Project. Ah-MAZE-ing! Fun and just the right amount of shaming you into getting off your ass already.
When I first started however, I bought into a monthly team coaching program for $75. I didn’t know where the next month’s $75 would come from but I had faith and a month to month cancellation policy.
Create a bio on freelance sites
Create a crazy appealing bio and get listed on freelance sites. Places like Elance, Hour.ly, Odesk and others are great places to start but there are many more. Create accounts at those sites and start bidding on projects. No, you likely won’t get paid professional rates on those sites, but those projects will feed your business until it gets off the ground and provide you with a portfolio to show prospective business clients as well as testimonials.
After a few Elance projects I had money for coaching month after month as well as money to upgrade my site. Those initial clients also ended up referring others to me and those referrals also referred clients to me.
With my background as a journalist I knew that press releases work. I got to work submitting press releases to media outlets and got a bit of press. Every time I did it drove traffic to my site. Make sure you read up on guidelines for writing and distributing press releases however, or you’ll never get the press you want.
Optimize your site and connect with others online
By this point my site looked good. I had been optimizing it all along so in a short time it was ranking well for my keywords. I also diligently worked at getting inbound links, blog commenting and guest posting.
Soon I was getting clients who found my site organically through search and site referrals and I was making some real money.
Exit, stage left
My business was keeping me busy and I had a choice to make. Quit my day job and take a chance or find another solution. I didn’t want to put myself in a position where getting clients was driven by desperation, but I also really needed to be home more for my kids.
At the time day care costs ate up the majority of my income. I was literally bringing home about $200-$400 a month from my full-time, low-wage newspaper reporting job after daycare costs.
So I asked my employer if there was a way to go part-time. They agreed as long as I kept up my workload. It meant I’d be getting part-time pay for full-time work but it also meant I’d be home more for my kids and they wouldn’t need so many hours in daycare. Cutting daycare costs ended up giving me a raise.
This situation still kinda sucked, I admit. After all, I was still having to carry the same workload as people who were working (and getting paid) full time, but I had to keep the bigger picture in mind. I found that if I buckled down and used my work hours productively—that meant skipping staff lunches and working when everyone was chatting it up in the breakroom—then I could get most of what I needed done and take home the rest. The even bigger benefit however, was because I was working less hours at my day job I was able to spend more time building my business.
I lost my inhibitions
One of the biggest obstacles I had to get over, however, wasn’t financial and it wasn’t logistical. It was the irrational fear of hearing friends and family say “You’re starting another business?” Only this time I decided I wasn’t going to care. Sometimes that was hard. Sometimes I had to avoid certain negative people. But I was going to go full force or not at all. I reminded myself of that every day.
Finally, I gave the world the virtual finger
My business really took off when I stopped trying to run my online business the way “I was supposed to.” By that I mean I stopped trying to do things the way I thought was the right way and started doing things the way I thought was best. It was enough to set me apart and give my business its own unique presence.
These days my business makes way more than my day job did –even before I had daycare costs. But it’s growing every quarter. I still do some writing for publications but now it’s because I want to not because I have to.
I finally found the lifestyle freedom I wanted and my only investment was the cost of a domain name, one month of hosting and the courage to go for it with all my heart.