Being self-employed isn’t easy.
Not only do you have to develop, market, and deliver professional services at a very high level, you also need to accomplish all of this in relative isolation.
The majority of self-employed consultants, coaches, and trainers run their businesses from a home office (often a spare bedroom). And although this saves on overhead and eliminates the headaches of commuting, it can be lonely, de-motivating, and discouraging – especially when business is challenging.
Making matters worse, a large percentage of self-employed professionals are introverts. John Feldman, in an article in Forbes Magazine says, “Spontaneous conversation and self-promotion are typically not areas in which introverts excel.”
So even though we introverts prefer working alone and charting our own fiercely independent path, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to “get out there” and put our business messages in front of prospective clients. Maybe I make it look easy, but it’s not.
In the early years of my business, I did a lot of networking and speaking out of necessity. I wasn’t the greatest at it, but ultimately found a way to make it work for me.
Then I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time with the right information that allowed me to grow my email list and put an emphasis on promoting my business online.
In 2002 I literally “moved to the woods” in Boulder Creek, California (90 minutes south of San Francisco) where I’ve been happily running my business for the past 16 years.
I rarely travel anywhere for business and meet all my clients by phone or video conference. And email is my preferred communication medium. A perfect set-up for an introvert like me.
However, I’ve tried not to hold this up as some kind of ideal business model for self-employed people. If you haven’t built a big email list or if your clients are in large companies and aren’t looking for you online (as I discussed in my ezine of last week ), then you have to work with what you’ve got – and that can be quite challenging.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of your self-employed situation:
What do you have going for you?
• You have a high degree of technical expertise in your field. Check.
• You do great work for your clients. Check.
• You’re creative and innovative. Check.
• You’re committed to making a difference. Check.
• You’re a sincere and authentic person. Check.
What’s working against you?
• You may be somewhat introverted, not so much a people person.
• You don’t love getting out there, meeting people and networking.
• You are not very comfortable at giving live presentations.
• You’re reluctant at ‘tooting your own horn.”
• You do not solicit much support or advice from others.
This last one may be the most important issue. All those other issues make marketing yourself challenging, but if you’re trying to do everything by yourself it’s even more difficult.
In an article by Andy Mort, he shares something very telling: “I am an introvert. That means that when I’m feeling down, chances are that I won’t actually go to you for help. In fact, I won’t go to anyone for help. You’ll have to actually check on me. I don’t feel that I should burden others with my problems, but if you come to me, I might just trust you enough to let you help.”
In the article, he outlines eight reasons introverts don’t ask for help. It might be fear of rejection, not wanting to be burdensome, fear of losing control, or a belief in self-reliance.
The thing we forget that as imperfect humans, we all have challenges and that we all need support. And the more we learn how to take advantage of support, the better things will go for us.
I’m not sure where I’d be in my business if I hadn’t been in numerous business support and mastermind groups over the years. And I’ve also hired coaches to help give me perspective and insight into my situation.