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Claiming Your Independence – 5 Years of Business Lessons

Five years ago I cut loose from my day job and launched myself into the adventure that is working for oneself. That was the start of my journey towards claiming my independence day, and I think there are lessons for you if you want to do something similar to what I have done.

I’m proud of where I am at but as well as talk about the successes, I am going to share with you the mistakes so you can avoid them.

If you just want the main lessons, skip to the end. Otherwise, see what you can learn from my journey …

I left my easy and relatively fairly paid job at a marketing agency to start a business. A real business, not the toy sidelines I had played with before. This one was going to be the sole income for our household. Knowing that your work has to pay all the bills concentrates the mind on what is really important.

State your intention.

The intention had been there for a while. You can see that I had been working up to the point for a little while in this image below. That image is taken from a site I used to frequent, I was defending blogging and saying why I did it.

This was April 2005. Shortly after I received a contract opportunity that allowed me to pull the trigger on my plans and finally leave. A few people have suggested that I achieved my goal because I wrote it out, I am not sure and I don’t think it matters if it was mystical or not. The opportunity arrived, I was prepared and well positioned for it, and I took that leap of faith.

Be prepared to grab the opportunity.

I see people get offered their ‘chance of a lifetime’ and not take it, only to live with the regret. It seems the sting of regret about something you did not do is worse than regretting something you tried. Our ‘what if’ fears tend to be overblown, and can cause us to not take risks that could be the trigger for wonderful outcomes.

Of course it was frightening. I had never been that classic “sold baseball cards in the playground” type entrepreneur. It’s still not a label I would associate with me, even though I am of course a business owner and investor. Crucial for us was that I was not putting the family at risk.

Like most decisions of this magnitude, you have to do a risk-reward analysis and crucially a game of ‘what is the worst that could happen? What is the best that could happen?’.

Know what you want to gain and what you want to escape.

As well as paying the bills, and preferably gain far greater financial rewards than that, I had certain goals that were not financially motivated. For a start, I wanted to avoid all the annoying day to day stuff I was very motivated to get away from. Listing everything out showed clearly that what I wanted to move towards and away from were very much in tune. See if any of these resonate with you:

  1. Do work that got results, and see those results reflected in my rewards – In my old job, working smarter or harder did not get rewarded, plus it was rare I was dealing with a decision maker at the client.
  2. Work with people I actually liked – A handful of my former colleagues are still friends, and even a couple of former clients, but now I get to choose who I work with or not, and that transforms your work day.
  3. Direct my own work and schedule – Since working for myself I have never had to miss any of my daughters school events. We have had more vacation time, I have taken more breaks, and also worked longer hours when necessary. Contrast that with having to ask permission to take a vacation day for doctors appointments and even surgery a couple of times.
  4. Travel to new places, see new people – There was a little travel in the old job, but I have many more opportunities for travel, to cooler places, and I have influence over the logistics. If I don’t want to go I can say no, which is probably the most important and most overlooked aspect. I find the people who dislike work travel are the ones who are forced or coerced into it. Much as I disliked being away from my family, and I take them along where possible, it is definitely a perk of my situation to be able to see parts of the world I have never visited before.
  5. Have customers come to me without pitching, proposals or spec work – An annoying aspect of marketing consulting is the amount of potential clients who sting you for free ideas and advise via the pitch and proposal process. I made the decision I would never pitch or write proposals again. If a customer wanted me they wanted me. This has saved me countless hours and helped me avoid the worst of the abusive clients, while also taking a lot of the stress out of the work. Has this meant I haven’t won work that I could have? Sure, but if I have to ‘win’ it, then it probably wasn’t mine in the first place.

Only the other day I commented on a Facebook thread that I now get paid for stuff I would likely do anyway. That is awesome, but what is even more awesome is after five years I have finally categorically ticked all the above boxes.

It did take five years though …

Learn from your mistakes.

The first big mistake was that plum contract that arrived at just the right time. Don’t get me wrong, it was fantastic – it set me up, the work was challenging, I still have friends from those days who I value greatly.

I had made the mistake of agreeing to forgoe any other activity, to give 100% to the project. This is a huge mistake, do not EVER agree to that, and never expect someone else to do that either.

  1. When the startup ended in a bit of a tangled mess, I had no ‘Plan B’.
  2. My goals above were centered around me making my own decisions, being my own boss. Instead I went from one boss to another.
  3. I had no freedom, having to constantly report in. My wife still reminds me of the time she threatened to throw my pocket pc into Lake Louise because I was trying to check in while on vaction.

That all said, even though I had clearly gone against goal #3, I was closer to my dream situation and the contacts I made were incredible.

Right around the time the startup folded and got bought out, I started this blog, scrambled around and got some more contracts. I also made a bunch of new mistakes.

Are they clients or bosses?

When a freelancer or consultant needs work there is a smell of desperation. That desperation can often be exploited. I went from one contract boss to a whole bunch.

Things did become much better and far easier. My blog took off, and thanks to my friends in the blogging world I managed to attract the attention that paid off in terms of contracts, speaking gigs, and other opportunities.

The downside to this was I started to coast out of complacency.

As I said above, I am not that Donald Trump driven entrepreneur type. So long as I was paying the bills and enjoying my work, I didn’t have the hunger to hustle.

My growth stalled, I withdrew while I juggled competing demands for my attention from my clutch of clients, and then withdrew even further when my daughter had a couple of major health panics, and some less major but still worrying ones.

When you have a predictable income from super supportive clients who stick with you even during some enormous personal life crises, it is hard to complain or see how things could be much better. But I should have been pushing ahead, I should have remembered what I had set out to do.

Another mistake I made was pulling back on the promotion.

Out there on the interwebs there are some harsh critics. I normally do a pretty good job of working out who to listen to and who to ignore, but there came a point where I was been repeatedly attacked for being over exposed. And I was, to a degree. But it meant that I pulled back from guest posting at Copyblogger, Problogger and other places that had been very good to me. Most of the people complaining did not have my best interests at heart, I should not have given them that level of influence.

You must grow a carapace of protection around your ego and not rely on other people for your self esteem.

Good news, bad news.

The best possible news was we got through the health issues as a family, and my awesome clients stuck by me, even offering support.

Really we were very happy once we got through it, but it did highlight major flaws in my business:

  1. It only really ran when I was present.
  2. My business was never designed to scale.
  3. I was spreading myself very thin, my family was hardly getting to see me, and my own health was suffering.

Two business models.

At this point I had to choose my business model and re-engineer my processes around them.

  1. Charge more with fewer clients.
  2. Create products to serve a greater number of people for lower individual cost.

I started with #1 but there is a limit to what I was willing to charge. My financial thermostat kicked in and rebelled when I realized I could never get myself psychogically to a $22k day rate. Our plans to move to Canada also meant that my higher paying face to face clients would soon be having to look to alternative providers, and in fact that is what happened as our plans progressed.

Which brings us to #2, and the situation I am in now. You will notice I do not have a coaching and consulting page any longer and lately I have launched quite a few products.

Effort vs Reward.

In your business you can put your activities onto the Effort-Reward scale to see how they compare.

In my business, even though providing consulting is rewarding on a personal and financial level, over time the incremental effort of providing consulting stays level or increases. Contrast this with product creation where you do the effort once, then the incremental effort is far lower but the rewards keep coming in. This is scaling.

It’s not purely a monetary decision, reward also includes how enjoyable the work is and if you get to work with the people who you like to work with. I’m not going to cut off consulting entirely, but I am not going to take on any new coaching or consulting clients and will restrict that work to on-site workshop days teaching internet marketing, social media, copywriting, seo and so on. This will allow me to maintain the face to face client contact I enjoy without going back to all day every day that was unsustainable.

I’m glad to say this isn’t all theory, it has worked out in practice. It’s a great combination of more profit combined with more free time to enjoy it. Even better, I have a business that I can move to Canada without as much risk.

How I got from there to here – the big lessons.

I have learned far more in the short time I have had my own business than all the time I worked in other people’s businesses. Here is how you can learn from my last five years and what you need to build:

  1. Content and Audience – Content is the core to attracting the attention you need, and to build the reputation that will gain you customers. I have been continiously writing online since 1994, but it took having no other choice for me to focus and develop a real asset, which is the blog you are reading and the associated email lists. Really I should have developed many more assets than this by now. Something I am going to correct.
  2. NetworkWithout a strong network you will struggle to make progress and you will not gain the opportunities that take you further. Thanks to friends like Brian and Darren, back in 2007 when I thought my world had collapsed I was quickly put back on my feet. You need to know there are people out there who have got your back.
  3. PromotionAs anyone with even a small audience will tell you, content alone will not get you where you want to go, you need to promote. Much of my promotion was done through Guest Posting like a mad man, appearing everywhere at once.
  4. Partners – With partners you can create more compelling products, you will find it easier to build awareness, and you will have greater motivation to continue. All five of the books I have been involved in, most famously the Problogger Book, have been co-authored. Most of my products and courses are collaborations.
  5. Systems – While working in your business, work on your business. These systems help you scale, and are also assets that can be turned into products. You need systems for attracting, retaining, converting customers, and fulfilling your promises to them. Over the last two years my systems have improved greatly, and so have my profits. I have systems for putting sales letters together through to delivering online courses quickly and effectively using membership sites and webinars. You might want to concentrate on ebooks or group coaching, but you must develop systems.

With these lessons in mind, it is hardly surprising that the free ebooks I give away on this blog are about creating killer content and developing partnerships. These two elements are the cornerstone to my business. If you haven’t read them yet, go grab them now, they are free.

Summary

I have been wanting to share this journey with you for a while, ever since I found that thread comment featured at the top of this page. At one point I was going to share it as a free webinar, but I realized there were many tangents it could go in and I wanted to make sure I kept my thoughts organized. Then I had an opportunity to sit down with Chris for coffee and during our discussion I realized how similar our thoughts, experiences and ideas are on what he calls Escape Velocity. This is how I achieved Escape Velocity, and I think it is appropriate to think about on Independence Day.

If you are looking forward to achieving your own Escape Velocity and Independence, start now. Put your content together, start promoting it, network, partner and develop your systems. You will get there, probably faster than I did.

Most of all, enjoy the ride!

Do you have any thoughts to share on creating your independence and achieving escape velocity? Please go ahead and comment below …

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Comments

  1. I've skimmed this post thus far and saved it to read later in detail.

    From the image where you posted your why, I would ask you to go even deeper. I do see a lot of features and benefits of this line of work vs the old but go super deep as to why this was and is so important to you.

    I've been trying to figure out how I'll write a post about 'escape velocity' – it's interesting how I've been pulled in the direction I'm going and it all relates heavily to the idea of escaping velocity..

    My thoughts are that we derive some deep reasons for everything we do – in working for ourselves, and working in a corporate setting. One could work in a cubicle and doing the work that is directed towards their cause. But if it's not, why are you still doing it?

  2. chrisgarrett says:

    That's interesting that you are asking me to go deeper into 'why' – most people ask for more detail on 'how' …

  3. “Partners” is an interesting point. Just last week I had that little light bulb moment when I realised nearly every good product or community I've been admiring for the last couple of years has been a joint venture between two or more people.

  4. Cracking post, Chris, although a year or so too late for me to learn from your mistakes as I made several of the same ones myself!

    I's summarise some of the issues as being about “balance.” As a one man band, you tend to throw everything into what you need to do RIGHT NOW. So whilst you're working on a project, you're not promoting. My challenge this year has been to try to achieve a balance across the varied things I need to do,

  5. chrisgarrett says:

    Absolutely, it is definitely key to find a balance, work-life, promote-create, conversions-relationships …

  6. chrisgarrett says:

    I wouldn't say my solo stuff is not as good, because quite the contrary! But working with partners allows you to create something more than the sum of the parts, your partner will have complimentary ideas, assets, experience and skills. I'm a big advocate of partnerships, even if just so you enjoy the process more πŸ™‚

  7. Mary E. Ulrich says:

    Hi Chris, Thanks for sharing so much about yourself and your journey. I'm starting to think there is really no such thing as “independence”–it is really all about “interdependence.”

  8. Fantastic journey. I loved this

    “You must grow a carapace of protection around your ego and not rely on other people for your self esteem.”

    It is so very true and a big lesson for me. In the past it iwa too easy to let the opinions of others influence how I felt about the work I did.

    I have been putting myself in the working for people bracket recently but want to make sure I balance that out with some solid products because longer term the freedom to choose how I spend my day while making money online is what started me on this journey.

    I spent years chasing the “be a millionaire” dream because I thought it is what I am meant to go for to prove I didn't have a limiting belief about what I could achieve but to be honest I am like you – not going for the $2 mansion and happy with enough to travel 5* and give my family the best.

    Diane

  9. I can relate to sooo much of this! Love the effort/reward scale. Like you, I enjoy coaching too much to give it up, but it's great to mix in some products to lighten the load.

  10. Hey Chris,
    I sure appreciate your sharing your walk through from there to here. It is so helpful that you shared your
    analysis of your process and what you've identified as possible alternate choices that would have possibly shortened the time to get from there to here. I'm also glad that you recognize the benefits of having made those “mistakes.” So perhaps they weren't really “mistakes,” but rather rich ingredients added to your mulch pile. Fertilizer, if you will.

  11. chrisgarrett says:

    Oh they were definitely valuable experiences, and everything builds on what you did before. I think the biggest mistake is not doing something in the first place, or not learning from your 'experiments' πŸ™‚

    • Yes, Chris – I agree.
      I’m just finishing and recording a new song about this very thing – comparing it to dancing. Doesn’t matter if you trip, stumble or fall – just start dancing or else it will all be over and you’ll still be standing there analyzing the right steps. I’ll send you a copy of it if you like. I am mixing blogging with my music and enjoying learning from you. You are an encouragement.

      I’d love to give you a free mp3 download of a Beatle’s cover we (my musical partner and I) just posted on my blog at http://pammarkhall.blogspot.com

      Also check us out at http://www.reverbnation.com/pamelitaandparker
      and me at http://www.reverbnation.com/pammarkhall

      Thanks for everything, Chris.

      PamMarkHall aka Pamelita

      P.S. Sorry for the double post. Oops!

  12. chrisgarrett says:

    One of the tricky parts about going 100% products would be making a seperation between your ideas and the reality of implementation – I need that contact with real world results so I know I am on the right track, but without getting caught in the “selling every hour” loop πŸ™‚

  13. Julian Gearing says:

    Great stuff, Chris! Very useful. Always a lot to be learned from people's “life journeys” and the mistakes made. As you say, content is crucial, even when you are giving it away – maybe even more so then because that will draw people in. Good luck with the next steps on your journey … All the best, Julian

  14. chrisgarrett says:

    When you have income via products that transforms your relationship with clients. Instead of “have to take this” you can have a more balanced decision on which gigs to take (or not). Very satisfying!

    On the millionaire thing, I know some happy ones and some unhappy rich people, the key difference is the money is a magnifier and catalyst for the joy or unhappiness that is already there or in potential. Once we get past a certain level of income where we the people we care for are safe, secure, well fed and can give a little to causes we believe in, we have to find other things to strive for because money is just a means to an end. Freedom and family are what drive me, though the toys are nice!

  15. Chris,
    Thanks for sharing your analysis of your *From There to Here.* I appreciate your willingness to share
    what you've recognized as possible alternate steps that may have enabled you a more enjoyable and quicker ride from there to here. I'm glad you also recognize the benefits gained from those stated “mistakes.” Perhaps, then, they were not “mistakes,” but rather ingredients for the compost pile that over time have become rich fertilizer for your current projects. Keep up the good work, and thanks for sharing what you have learned and are still learning.
    Cheers,
    Pam Mark Hall

  16. chrisgarrett says:

    Good point. For me it is about freedom to do or not do – having choices. We might make the choice to stay in the “9-5”, but at least it is a choice rather than a limiting situation that puts us there.

  17. edgaile says:

    This is probably one of my favorite posts of yours Chris. I think the one thing that I am learning as I try to achieve 'escape velocity' is that you need to just execute. Whatever you want to call it – launch, ship, post,etc. Get the momentum going and adjust the course as you need to. One of my mistakes is getting caught up in total analysis paralysis and failing to move forward because everything is not just right. But I am learning that it doesn't have to be in order to move the needle in the right direction.

  18. Happy anniversary of 5 years in business, that's a great landmark and the lessons you have described are ones that we all learn some sooner rather than later.

    I am at the systems stage, and it's something I am wasting a lot of time procrastinating about πŸ™ I need to work through it, which is why I am enjoying reading your post – light at the end of the tunnel.

    One question if I may – Where is Canada on the agenda now? and how much closer are you to your end goal?

  19. Chris, this is the first time I've commented here. Thank you – so much – for sharing this. The Effort vs. Reward chart is exactly what I needed to see today.

    I am in the midst of moving from a one-by-one service business model to a product model. I'm right at the point where I've put months of effort into the product, but it's about to launch and I haven't seen the reward part yet.

    You've trod this path ahead of me, and I appreciate the map you've drawn here. It gives me hope that the effort will pay off. Thanks for spelling it all out and being willing to share your journey.

  20. Chris, very good to know the process of gaining escape velocity. You are truly an inspiration for everyone and young starters like me.

    I'm also on my way to get the escape velocity, I do work every day, do mistakes, learn from them and enjoying the RIDE!

    Creating content and Networking are important thing for me to focus on, I'll let you know how does it work for me in Pakistan. Thank you.

  21. chrisgarrett says:

    Make sure you check out Ahmed http://ahmedbilal.com/ @ahmedbilal – he is doing great things in Pakistan πŸ™‚

  22. Thank you for the recommendation Chris, much appreciated.

  23. chrisgarrett says:

    Over time I have brought my development cycle down to a few weeks so I can test the market and get the rewards faster. Keep plugging away, the rewards do show up πŸ™‚

  24. chrisgarrett says:

    We are close to being able to make the move πŸ™‚ My passport came through right away, we just heard back that my wife's permanent residence needs to be activated. Just need to look into visa regulations for my daughter as her proof of citizenship is going to take months. We will get there!

    In terms of the other goals, I am there now. All 5 boxes are ticked πŸ˜€

  25. chrisgarrett says:

    I know analysis paralysis well πŸ™‚

  26. chrisgarrett says:

    Sometimes you have to give and give until finally people are willing to take the next step. I think all too often people try to go in for the kill, but that can just look desperate and needy πŸ™‚

  27. chrisgarrett says:

    My pleasure πŸ™‚

  28. Thanks for sharing Chirs.

    We all take different paths to success and I think there is a lot we can learn from the paths we take. I am very happy to see that you are on a path that will lead to the place you want to be in life.

    As for my story of independence… really focusing on one core business, and making a commitment to it really helped. A while ago I wrote about that on one of my blogs in more detail:

    http://www.canimakebigmoneyonline.com/index.php/20091206-three-steps-to-business-success-in-2009/

    Improving my time management, creating systems and being able to get my ego out of the way of my decisions also helped.

  29. Chris thank you so much for sharing. It is good to know that I am not the only person refining and polishing; finding the perfect balance between business ownership and life. I love the adventure that I am on and have to admit to a certain amount to trepidation from time to time but love what I do and the clients I work with. I have made some mistakes getting started and I am sure I will make a few more. Now I need to get started with producing some products and need to carve out time for the creation process. I found your article inspiring and the nudge I need to get more focused on my business.

  30. Chris,

    Outstanding article. I'm going to retweet this line: You must grow a carapace of protection around your ego and not rely on other people for your self esteem.

    As someone who has been online and blogging since 2002, this is a call to action for so many who are contemplating taking the next significant step but unintentionally becoming their own worst boss because they aren't focused on product creation and scaling.

    Finding a passion that will provide value to others and pay the bills is just the first step. Not getting trapped by your passion and personal involvement so that you can move from sole proprietor to managing principal should become a chief concern for any entrepreneur who really wants to live the dream of financial freedom and independence.

    Thanks for a great article; this is one that I'm going to share throughout my network immediately.

  31. Ann Kruse says:

    Me, too! I'm committed to launching my product site in September. I need to plow past the analysis paralysis to get there. Thanks, Chris, for the reminder about what's possible!

  32. chrisgarrett says:

    Thanks for sharing with your network, I appreciate it πŸ™‚

    Part of scaling that a lot of people do not realize is the ability to give our brains bandwidth to be creative. This is why we often have a flash of inspiration on vacation or in the shower – but when we get stuck on a treadmill of our own creation we do not have the opportunity.

  33. chrisgarrett says:

    Glad you found it inspiring, I tried to be careful to not make it seem like a boast piece!

  34. Congrats on your success and thanks for sharing your tips. I've already duplicated many of the errors!

    Love the suggestion to partner on projects–will start heading in that direction.

    Appreciate the down to earth approach Chris-you rock!

  35. Chris, I cannot possibly imagine who would attack you for promoting too much. Inconceivable to me. You're about the most chilled out dude in this whole space.

  36. Please write the escape velocity article. I've never reached, despite having ample opportunity in the past. I followed you on Tumblr. Feel free to email me after you write it.

  37. Thanks for this reminder. Comes at a very good time for me! I've been freelance for 19 years (!) next month, and love, love, love it. But now a client wants me to work a significant amount of time in-house. It's not what I want, at all. But it's tempting on some levels. But I need to stick to what I know and love — my independence. Thanks for the reminder.

  38. Yes, working face-to-face with clients helps me get a better sense of the issues they're grappling with, which (I hope) makes my products better…

  39. Yes, working face-to-face with clients helps me get a better sense of the issues they're grappling with, which (I hope) makes my products better…

  40. f1acoguapo says:

    Chris, thanks for this article. Very inspirational. What tips do you have for people who want to go it alone in online media, but are afraid about losing benefits? Any services you recommend for health insurance, other benefits and doing your own admin work?

  41. prosperitygal says:

    Chris,

    One I love how you are willing to share your mistakes. It takes a confident person to be willing to do that. I have been blessed to interview you so I know you are as genuine in person as you are here.

    Your detail is awesome. I agree with Scott a person's WHY is powerful, maybe more powerful than the How. Why is what drives the car-you, it's your gas.

    What impresses me is that you are grounded in your success and that is critical for being a good parent. So your answer about what you would want your daughter to be able to say after you are gone “My Dad did this I think will be-“”HE gave me a sense of knowingness to be caring first to people in my life””.

  42. chrisgarrett says:

    I think it is our duty to point out where the potholes are. Ok, I guess some folks might say let people make their own mistakes, but I think people make enough mistakes of their own without falling into preventable ones that I can warn about πŸ™‚

  43. chrisgarrett says:

    It's tricky for me seeing as I am based in Europe where we don't really have to worry about those things. I find it odd that living in socialist-leaning countries makes it easier to be a capitalist but there it is πŸ™‚ Perhaps someone else will have guidance?

  44. chrisgarrett says:

    We all have to make those choices. Sometimes a client that wants you that badly will come to an arrangement, but as Chris Brogan said once, I feel like I am less an entrepreneur and more unemployable πŸ˜‰

  45. chrisgarrett says:

    There is a big segment of folks who for whatever reason think everything should be free and that we should speak only when spoken to. I don't let those people influence me any longer thankfully πŸ™‚

  46. chrisgarrett says:

    Glad you liked it. Partnering is not always easy, you have to work with the right people and I have been burned once or twice, but overall it makes things more fun and more likely to be a success when everyone pulls together πŸ™‚

  47. briangarbisch says:

    Thanks Chris. I just started and it's good to have these guide signs for my trip. It's like going on a roadtrip with a destination in mind. Talking to other people that have been there they give you the good info, not just the touristy guides. Good Luck.

  48. chrisgarrett says:

    Cool, that's what I was hoping – I look to people like Brian, Darren and Chris B to guide the way for me and it is nice to pass on a bit myself πŸ™‚

  49. Hey Chris I am so taken with your honesty. You deserve great success and happiness in your life.

  50. chrisgarrett says:

    Thanks πŸ™‚ I have found honesty is easiest in the long run, the internet has a long memory and a built in bs detector πŸ˜‰

  51. This is a very timely and interesting post for me. Thank you for the care with which it was constructed.

  52. Great post, Chris. You've hustled and worked your a** off to be where you are, so happy 5th anniversary my friend. All the best for the next five πŸ™‚

  53. evanhadkins says:

    Thanks Chris, I always like to hear the real story – rather than the pre-digested one for the ebooks on How to Make Money Online.

    I think this post is very valuable and thank you for sharing it.

  54. Many thanks for the insights and putting yourself out there. I am actually at a similar juncture with my own business when you were when you started yours, so this is timely and much appreciated. It's got me thinking already…

  55. Chris,

    Thank you for this. I'm like many of the other commenters in that it has inspired me.

    I have read so many 'how' articles/courses/buy this new and better way of doing it/emails now that I can see them in my sleep. My 'why' is most important to me and is in large letters at the beginning and end of my goal list where I can see it each time I look up from the laptop – “Peter won't have to go tiling”. Peter is my husband of 29 years and I want him home with me or volunteering in the community we both love and which is his personal goal. I'm lucky in that I love what I'm doing here so it is never a chore.

  56. I appreciate all the thought that went into this post. The issue of scalability is one I have been thinking about a lot lately, so thank you for providing details on that point.

  57. Thanks for sharing. So many people either don't sit down and think things through or they do but don't share. I will definitely be sending my clients to read this post – it is so valuaable.
    I keep a kind of diary of what I am doing and thinking as in I note who I contacted and then later what the outcome was, I note what I'm planning to do with my business and what I end up doing – and why. Every now and then I read bits of it and see how far I have come (which encourages me to continue despite financial and family challenges) and how far I still have to go (which is where I tweak the road map for getting where I am planning on going).

  58. Chris: I read this yesterday via email and then re-read it again today. Love all of the insights!

    Personally, I'm in the product creation phase myself. Mainly because I think that there's more scalability to it (as per your diagram as well). In reaching that point on focusing on identifying what I call the 3 M's: Market (“Who” am I trying to reach) – Medium (“How” am I trying to reach them) – Message (“What” am I trying to communicate). I'm consistently trying to refine each of these points when executing something new and so far I think it's keeping me on point.

  59. Chris,
    this is really a “cornerstone” post ;-)!
    Thanks for sharing, as usual… I especially appreciate your mention of “life with your family” episodes…
    Too often the “freelance switch” / “internet working” is presentend like something only for super aggressive men, without (real) social life nor (real) everyday family problems/duty.

    Stefano

  60. chrisgarrett says:

    A lot of people assume I am going to be one of those super competitive macho entrepreneur types but I am almost embarassed to correct them when they discover I am anything but πŸ™‚

  61. chrisgarrett says:

    Great stuff πŸ™‚ As a word of caution (which is a theme of this post after all!), when you are at the creation phase it is important to not get too caught up in the analysis, get something small and focused launched to test the market and have customers tell you what they want rather than browsers.

  62. chrisgarrett says:

    I wish I had kept my diary going but I can still kinda sorta see through my blogs what was going on when πŸ™‚

  63. chrisgarrett says:

    Another aspect of scaling is outsourcing, but I think sometimes people see it as a fix all which it obviously is not in practice

  64. chrisgarrett says:

    Yup, the why is what keeps you going through the tough times πŸ™‚

  65. chrisgarrett says:

    That's what I like to hear πŸ™‚

  66. chrisgarrett says:

    Oh I have one of those too πŸ˜‰

  67. chrisgarrett says:

    Thanks Andy, and you! πŸ™‚

  68. well… should be funny hear that too πŸ˜‰

  69. great, Chris.. thanks for sharing and baring so much. having partners to help along the way is really important. the hard part is finding people that complement you though.. or someone that is as motivated as you and won't bail at the last minute. this is why I have been holding back from that all this time…

  70. Thank you Chris for sharing. Feel kind of relieved I am not the only one making all these mistakes. It just sounds likr you are telling my story πŸ™‚

    At the end you say “You will get there, probably faster than I did.” That is almost impossible, you are going like a rocket.
    For product creation to give more reward than consulting you do need some real following.

  71. This is definitely where I am heading now. I am trying to escape and thought about it just before I stumbled on this blog and post. I work for an enormous company and hate every minute of it. It is a slow suicide. Signed up for your enewsletter and will read your ebooks. Thanks for the help.

  72. If I could write a perfect blog post every time, this is what it would look like. It's personal, has advice for others learned through personal experience, and it's totally transparent. It's also inspiring… I left 'employeehood' behind almost a year ago and it's been the most rewarding change in my life that I've ever made. Thanks for sharing Chris!

  73. Totally agree with your post. One of my biggest motivation for setting up on my own was being able to work with only the people that I choose too.

  74. Hi Chris, I hadn't read your blog before this post. A friend of mine forwarded me the link to this specific post as I just recently (as in last week) jumped into the wildly exciting ocean of self-employment, lucky for me I'm a pretty strong swimmer (so far).

    I appreciate your wisdom and thank you for sharing your experiences – these are all good things for me to keep in mind as I begin my own journey. Perhaps I will repay the kindness with a few added lessons learned in a blog post at some point in the future.

  75. Jason Webb says:

    Very informative post! Really thanks for sharing.It viewed me to a lot of opportunities.

  76. chrisgarrett says:

    Glad you liked it Jason πŸ™‚

  77. chrisgarrett says:

    Thanks to your friend! And yes, it is always great to pay it forward when you have chance πŸ™‚

  78. chrisgarrett says:

    I think that is one of the perks that people seldom think about. We often get caught up thinking we can not turn work down, but a bad client fit is neither good for you nor the client, and it is even worse with partners

  79. chrisgarrett says:

    Thanks Douglass!

  80. chrisgarrett says:

    They key thing is start digging your well before you are thirsty πŸ™‚ Start now so when you leave you are jumping into a net with a strong parachute attached to a bungee cord πŸ˜‰

  81. chrisgarrett says:

    I decided the people I most wanted to work with. This has evolved over the years – I no longer target big/medium companies unless I can work with decision makers, but overall my target profile has been pretty consistent. It definitely helped both stop the wrong people being attracted and to appeal more to the people who I really wanted to attract.

  82. chrisgarrett says:

    It is really tricky but when you know your own true core values you kind of build a radar for finding the people who share them. I have been burned a few times, no getting away from that, but I am also positive and optimistic that it is the right thing to do even when we learn painful lessons.

  83. And do you have that clearly shown at the website somewhere 'People you most wanted to work with'?
    It is small companies and the self employed.

  84. chrisgarrett says:

    No, I attract certain types of people and companies through the content I write and where I promote it. Take this post for example, who do you think it would appeal to? Does that match what you see in the comments and the retweets?

  85. This:

    “You must grow a carapace of protection around your ego and not rely on other people for your self esteem. “

    Is something I'm trying hard to learn – but it's also where I fail the most.

    An amazing post, Chris. Every time I read it I take away something new. Thanks for sharing five years worth of wisdom.

  86. chrisgarrett says:

    It seems a lesson we have to learn over and over πŸ˜‰

  87. I think that it is important to have a schedule in place on a weekly basis, so that it can help you maintain focus

  88. Charlie says:

    Great post Chris, really motivational and highlights a lot of what you have talked about, and a great example of life's journey

  89. Chris, some excellent points. Along with reading articles like this, the best learning comes from making mistakes. It's going to happen. I think how you handle these mistakes can really define you and your business.

    Thanks for the great info.

  90. Hi Chris,

    The post is very inspiring and you share so much in it. I know what you are talking about from experience when questioning who is the boss even when you have your own business.

    Some clients are slave drivers and not really worth having. The saying that a customer is always right can lead to very unreasonable demands from clients who take it as a gospel.

    You have succeeded 100% in having you post not be a boast piece.

    Vance

  91. Hi Chris,

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I am in a similar situation to where you started up at the beginning of this article. Just cut loose from my job and with a company for many years, to concentrate on something more exciting and with the hope of being my own boss. What that is yet, I'm still undecided, but I'll get there.

    Thanks for the advice.

  92. Hi Chris,

    Great post again. Read it from start to finish in on go as Icouldn't stop reading it.

    I was forced to go it alone when I became a 'victim' of the recession a few months back. I grasped an opportunity to be mentored when I had some compensation from a car crash come through (my wife was none too pleased though), even though I am not making the money at the moment, I know that with hard work, it will only be a matter of time.

    The whole point is to take massive action when opportunity smacks you in the face, mistakes will be made but there again, life is just one big learning curve. As long as we learn from our mistakes, then we can move on.

    Many thanks

    Simon

  93. chrisgarrett says:

    No mistakes, only experiments that did not deliver the desired result πŸ˜‰

  94. chrisgarrett says:

    Good luck!

  95. chrisgarrett says:

    Without mistakes I don't think you can truly say you have gained experience πŸ™‚

  96. chrisgarrett says:

    We will smile when you write your own version πŸ™‚

  97. chrisgarrett says:

    I have never been able to stick to one but am sure would work for some πŸ™‚