Freelancers Union Spark Recap: How to Build an Inspired Business

Many of the Freelancer’s Union Spark event topics are very straightforward – for example, how to make your contract your best ally or how to negotiate the rates you deserve – but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from November’s topic, how to build an inspired business. When I arrived, I was excited to learn that a guest speaker, Life Coach Laurie Gerber of the Handel Group, would be leading the discussion. She began by having us collectively make a list of who or what inspires us.

Some of My Favorite Bits of Freelancer Inspiration:

  • Learning from clients
  • People who follow-through, execute, and get the job done
  • Collaborating with others
  • Businesses that help you to think of something in a new way
  • Failing and pressing forward anyway

I contributed to the discussion by sharing what inspires me most in my freelance career: those who choose an unconventional path. This is what motivated me to pursue freelancing in the first place – I didn’t want a typical 9-5 job, and I didn’t want to climb a company ladder. I wanted to carve my own way and create a career for myself. I’m continually excited by the artists, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups I work with who share this same desire and practice it in their work.

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Next, we were encouraged to draw from what inspires us in order to create a mission statement for our own work – not for our business, not to publish on our websites or portfolios – a personal mission statement. We had to ask ourselves what drives and inspires us to do what we do. For me, this task was much more difficult than I anticipated, and it’s still a work in progress. I tried both re-working the type of mission statement I have on my portfolio site and starting from scratch, but I wasn’t satisfied. I really began to question why I do what I do and how it could be summed up in one sentence. I urge you to take this challenge! If you’re having difficulty like I was, here are some tips from Laurie:

What makes an inspired personal mission?

  • Consider how your work allows you to give value
  • Be specific, clear, and concise
  • Avoid clichés
  • Think about breathing life into your work – give it a persona and a voice
  • Reflect on what makes you and your work unique and authentic

The third and final step toward building an inspired business was rating ourselves based on five characteristics of an inspired freelancer:

  1. You’ve got a clear vision for your business
  2. Your work is a reflection of what inspires you
  3. You can easily express what you do and why you do it
  4. You take risks, and your business improves as a result
  5. You learn from your mistakes, and your business improves as a result

Those of you who know me can probably guess which of these characteristics got the lowest ranking: risk-taking. I may have taken the great leap to leave the traditional workforce and forgo health insurance, job security, and consistent paychecks, but since then, I haven’t taken many risks in my freelance career. The biggest leap I’ve taken was deciding on a bare minimum rate I was willing to accept and declining to negotiate or work with clients who weren’t willing to pay that amount. Fortunately, Laurie offered a solution for combatting your lowest ranked attribute: make a promise with a consequence. For example: I promise to take one small risk every day before noon or else I’m not allowed to watch TV that day.

Let’s continue the conversation! Share who or what inspires you, your personal mission, or your promise with a consequence tagging @FreelancersU and me, @AOCBlogGirl, using the hashtag #InspiredBiz. AND, if you have any questions about the Freelancer’s Union Spark events, feel free to tweet me – I’ve just signed on as a co-leader for the Manhattan Spark events, so I have all the inside scoop!

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