Running a freelance business (and how to get past the small stuff)

wildlife bird crumbs - freelancing - how to get past the small stuff

“Life sometimes gets so bogged down in the details, you forget you are living it. There is always another appointment to be met, another bill to pay, another symptom presenting….. We have synchronized our watches, studied our calendars, existed in minutes, and completely forgotten to step back and see what we’ve accomplished.”  Jodi Picoult, author of “My Sister’s Keeper”


No-one enjoys setbacks in life, especially when those setbacks feel as if they’re out of your control.

So when it’s just you driving your business forward – trying to keep at it day in, day out – and all the small stuff gets in the way, isn’t it downright irritating?

In fact, it’s not just irritating, it can leave you feeling completely exhausted and overwhelmed.

Here are some issues I’ve personally had to contend with and how I’ve overcome them.

I’m sure there will be others that you will have encountered, but perhaps you can identify with some of these:




Bookkeeping:  For starters, being self-employed often means having to do your own bookkeeping – at least in the early stages.It’s an essential part of your business, yet it can seem so daunting, that it’s often left until the end of the month – or worse still, until the end of the year just before your self-assessment is due.

I’ve found that having a system in place, right from the very start, will help to alleviate the stress.  So simple things such as sending out invoices promptly, and chasing up non-payment promptly too.  Keeping accurate records of your incomings and outgoings.   If you keep on top of these on a weekly basis, it makes the whole job of totting everything up so much easier.

A simple excel spreadsheet is fine if that’s all you have available to start with, but it’s worth investing in an accounting software package, as these help to automate tasks and make the job of tracking/forecasting cashflow so much easier.  For an even easier life, why not consider outsourcing your bookkeeping altogether.


I.T.  The other bane in your life.  Whether it’s the actual hardware itself, or your website.   Something pesky always happens when you least expect it and then you spend hours trying to fix it yourself.  Do yourself a favour from the word go.  Source someone (through recommendation) who will be happy to charge a small fee each month to help you maintain it.  If you’ve ever read about my rantings about my WordPress, it’s simply not worth wasting hours of your valuable time trying to fix something that a professional could fix in minutes.


Marketing:  You obviously can’t ignore it.  How else will anyone get to know about you, what you do and what you have to offer.  But once again, if you have a system – or let’s say a strategy – it becomes less of a hit and miss affair with no sense of direction.


Managing your time:  Overall, this is probably the most important factor to get to grips with when you work for yourself.   Time is a literal asset.   It IS money, so every minute counts.  That means forgetting about the dishwasher, checking your inbox or updating social media every five minutes.  I’ve found that it’s so important to schedule time to catch up with tasks like these, and focus my main efforts on earning money.



I think it comes down to having a strong internal compass to continue moving forward with your freelance business.  A strong sense of direction.

And often, this mean keeping your eye on the big picture.  In other words, working on your business and not in it.

Whenever I find myself getting bogged down with the details, especially if I find them becoming time-consuming with no end in sight, or sapping my energy, I ask myself whether what I’m working on is really important to achieving my goals.

For me, it’s about reconnecting with my vision for my business, and mapping out routes to get me there.

Is there a direct link between what I’m working on and the desired results.  If there is, how long will it take me to achieve those results.  Now?  Next week?  Next  Year?   Can I afford to wait that long?  What do I need to do, in order to achieve it?

I also find that it helps if I take a step back from my business, literally remove myself from it for a few hours, or even a day or so.  To get out there among others, have a chat, network  – anything that allows me to view things from a fresh new perspective.  Often, talking with others helps me to re-approach a dilemma from a new direction.

I’ve also learned to break down each goal into smaller goals, smaller steps, so that I don’t feel overwhelmed by the mass of everything that I have to cope with.

And finally, if I keep in mind the big picture, I’m able to work out strategies for getting past what I call the small stuff.  Decide which issues are worth my time, and which aren’t.


So over to you.  How are you managing to get past the small stuff in your business?



featured image credit: Unsplash



I’m Mary Cummings, a freelance journalist, author, ghostwriter and online educator. I help creative freelancers find their work sweet spot - that’s work on their terms, projects they love and clients who are a dream to work for.

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