“Many things are indeed more important than money,” agreed the Wealthy Gardener, “but overcoming the ‘money problem’ allows us to focus on those important things. Without money and time, we wield little power over life.” – The Wealthy Gardener: Lessons on Prosperity Between Father and Son by John Soforic
To create the life I want to lead, I spend a lot of time thinking, making notes, and writing. It’s how I stay on the right path and recalibrate.
In my thinking sessions, I ponder where I am in life, where I want to be, and what matters most to me at that moment.
It’s in these moments that I realize just how valuable time is in my life and the business I’ve built.
What matters to me is:
- Being able to close my laptop at any time and do whatever I want to be doing instead
- Spending time with my loved ones when they want to spend time with me
- Nurturing and strengthening my body so it lets me live the life I want
- Having the resources to contribute and make an impact
- Being able to focus on creating the things I want to exist in the world
To enable each of those things, I need time, money, and freedom.
If I can be smart about it, running my own business gives me access to each of these three things.
Freedom is the product of time and money. And honestly, being self-employed is pretty much my only option to live my life with the amount of freedom I want.
When it comes to money, I’m confident. Right now at the start of May, I’m on track for a $200k year which still seems nuts to me.
Time is the most difficult part of the equation. When you’re a solopreneur, you can easily end up working more than you would in a 9–5 office job. To avoid this, I’ve had to consciously make time a top priority.
In the past two years of my business, here are the strategies I’ve used to maximize my income, time, and freedom.
1. I’ve designed my work around the life I want to create
From the beginning of my business journey, I’ve reminded myself of these three things: I am responsible for my schedule, I choose the work I take on, and I determine what my earning ceilings are.
Although some months I am cash-rich and time-poor, I know that this is a decision I’ve made or let happen. It happens because I say yes to more work and say no to more free time.
In building my business, I’ve intentionally designed my work so I can generally avoid being at my desk at any specific time. I’ve also avoided long-term contracts so I can scale up and down my workload at any time, such as if I decide to travel for extended periods of time.
It requires a conscious effort to make room for my principles and stick to them if I’m offered tempting opportunities that go against them. But it’s so worth it.
2. I’ve stopped thinking I will earn less if I work less
One misconception I’ve had to fight in my business journey is that you have to choose between time and money. I’ve banished the belief that by choosing to have more free time, you have to accept less money.
Don’t get me wrong, often this IS the case. If you charge by the hour, day, or month, your income depends on the time you put into your work.
There’s also a lot of value in knowing what amount is enough to you, and saying no to more work after that point.
But as your business expands and you learn from others further ahead in the journey than you, earning more can often require working less.
3. I know that money gives me time
You can choose time AND money. This requires delivering great work that allows you to consistently raise your rates and in turn lower your working hours.
Although time is more valuable than money, money gives us more time.
It requires a lot of focus, but you really can build a business that enables you to have time and money.
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” — Benjamin Franklin
4. I keep raising my rates
The recipe for freedom as a freelancer is to:
- Optimize the money you can earn in the shortest amount of time
- Be more picky about the work you take on
The best way to earn more in less time is to keep raising your rates. You should do this regularly, but especially if you’re overbooked and no one ever tells you that you’re too expensive.
Being turned down occasionally can be a good sign. It shows that you’re not undercharging or trying to help everyone.
5. I recognize bad-fit clients
One of the first lessons you learn as a freelancer is that the clients who try to haggle and ask for a special rate are going to be the biggest headaches down the line.
My lowest paying clients are the ones who attract drama, bring emergency fires to put out at 7:00 on a Monday morning, and make me wonder why I’m doing this. On the other end of the spectrum, my best-paying projects usually have gold-standard client etiquette and don’t cross boundaries or take up all my free time.
When you can afford to (and occasionally even before that), you have to say no to bad-fit clients. It’s ok to say no and refer them to someone else. Even if it means turning down cash, I always know it’s the best decision for me and the client when I do.
6. I work every day on my money mindset
“Mindset is the only thing that matters. Believe that there’s always enough, there’s always more, and most importantly, that you are enough. You are what a wealthy woman looks like. If not you, then who?” — Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield Thomas
I can’t attribute my income to business strategy or lead gen. I’m incredibly fortunate that nearly all of my clients come to me and I’ve been terrible at marketing myself.
What I’ve been working on instead is my money mindset. To earn more, you’ll need to do this too.
My earnings are determined by what I think I can earn. If I don’t think I deserve an amount, I won’t get it. I’ll push it away, say no, and sabotage things if I start getting close. Success can be terrifying.
I’ve had to change my belief in what I can earn and what I’m capable of to continue creating big jumps in my income.
After I changed the Y axis on my earnings tracker chart to include $25,000 back in January, even though I’d never reached it before, I started familiarizing myself with this amount of money. And in April, I exceeded it.
Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are always right.
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