Wow. I got up today to many congrats via my LinkedIn profile with regards to my work anniversary. I then remembered – oh yeah – Andiamo Creative is 19 years old today. I am aghast that it’s been that long. I have been self employed for 19 years – crazy.
When I started out so many years ago in Chicago, I saw an opportunity. I was oh-so-young, and I was being offered freelance gigs around town, so many that suddenly it was obvious my day job was holding me back. So, with a bit of planning, I quit that gig and started working for myself, under the name Andiamo Design. The early days were good – so much work I couldn’t keep up. Soon I started partnering with other freelancers – friends of mine with complementary skills. Together, we were able to offer more services to our shared clients. This new iteration seemed to warrant a new name, Andiamo Creative.
Last year, I moved to Milwaukee, the town of my birth. The change in location meant new connections, new clients, new associates. I started rethinking how I do business, what’s important, what I’ve learned. Here would be my biggest lessons in 19 years of self employment:
A. Job out the stuff you don’t like to do
When I first started, I did everything myself, thinking this was a good way to keep my finances under control. This turned out to be a waste of time. I learned that I’m better off focusing my time on what I do well and continuing to learn everything I can about those things, than trying to tackle stuff that doesn’t come to me naturally. I give this same advice to my clients, and I try to live by these words.
B. Never stop talking yourself up
It’s never been a place of comfort for me to market myself. An introvert at heart – which is often the case for creatives – I have trouble talking about myself and “selling”. I had to get over that early on. It’s like a hat you put on – the “I’m marketing myself now” hat. Make connections wherever you go – simple as mentioning what you do for a living and having a business card ready. And if you work from home like I do (my favorite thing!) then it’s important to reach out in whatever way makes sense for you to keep making new connections. LinkedIn is great for this, and I’ve been able to leverage this channel to advantage over the years.
C. Listen to your gut
When first starting out, I never said no to any gig. Same thing happened during the recession. Desperation is a terrible decision-maker. I’ve lived through some pretty unpleasant situations with clients and associates that were not good matches for me. And the biggest regret was that I knew it early on, but wasn’t willing to say no. I was irrationally worried there would be nothing to replace this opportunity should I let it pass. This was a mistake every time. Listen to your gut and have faith that there will be more opportunities – better opportunities – along the road. Wasting time in a working relationship that doesn’t fit takes you off the track of finding the ones that will.
These 19 years have been pretty amazing, and I am very happy to report I’ve never returned to corporate life. I enjoy my independence and working for myself is a perfect fit for me. So happy anniversary to Andiamo – you’ve treated me well, my friend. Here’s to many more years of happy partnership! 😀