Wearing Different Hats

This past Friday, I received an invitation to a costume party and, ever since, I’ve been obsessed with finding the perfect outfit.

Honestly, I jump at any chance to dress up. Costume parties give me the chance to try on an entirely different persona, and there’s something fun and exhilarating about that.

Funny that when it comes to my at-home business, I don’t feel quite the same way.

We’ve talked before about the business skills we might not necessarily have when we first start up our own businesses, and about the steps we might need to take in order to gain those skills. I’d like to reiterate here: Being in business for yourself requires the wearing of many hats, and most of them are not nearly as fun as that top hat I bought this past weekend.

Which personae do you need to master?

The Boss-Man: This is, I’m assuming, the reason you went freelance in the first place. You’d much rather answer to yourself than anyone else. As attractive as this is, it’s a difficult role to master. Some people who try freelancing struggle with self-discipline, finding themselves easily distracted by errands, reality TV, um…the cats…These are the people who actually benefited by being overseen by some corporate overlord, forced to stick to a restrictive schedule. Others are their toughest taskmasters, giving themselves even less slack than past employers. Where do you lie on the spectrum, and how do you get closer to reaching that middle ground?

Human Resources: You may never need to worry about the hiring and firing or the training of new employees but, if you do, it would help to polish up those interviewing and management skills. Even if your staff never grows above one, however, you’re going to need to be able to give yourself all the benefits that HR handled in the past.

Accounting: For the longest time, I could barely even handle my personal finances. And now I’m expected to set my own rates, invoice people, keep on top of late payments and, at the end of it all, have enough left over to pay myself!? Ha! When it comes to setting up a budget and setting my rates, I’m still a definite work in progress. At least there are invoicing apps and time trackers to help out with everything else.

Marketing/Publicity/Advertising: Thank god I have some marketing experience from my days in book publishing. Still, selling someone else’s product is still easier for me than selling myself. You need to get on top of this aspect of your business right away, or else you won’t be bringing any in. Do some research on web marketing, social networking, space advertising, and more. A multi-pronged attack will help you reach more people. Unfortunately, you will always have to work at marketing yourself in order to bring in new clients and retain recurring ones. If you become complacent, it’s easy for things to dry up before you even realize what’s happening.

Design: This ties in to marketing in a way. As you’re creating a brand, image can mean anything. You can always hire web designers, artists, etc., but it could be fun (and easier on your wallet) to learn to handle such things yourself.

Admin: There are so many tiny, nitpicky things you need to handle yourself as a freelancer…things that seem to continuously take you away from your “real” work. Frustrating, right? Unfortunately, as long as you’re alone, you’ll need to handle the phone calls, the mailing out of papers and packages, the filing, and anything else an admin assistant would typically handle.

I could probably go on (and on). What am I missing, guys?

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