I like to refer to myself as a #bossbabe, but let’s be honest, I’m a solopreneur. I’m only the boss of myself. Without me, Create That Communications consists of (to further quote The Gilmore Girls) some stationery, a coffee maker, and some rubber pencil grips.
My cats occasionally provide inspiration, but as I do not pay them, they are not employees. They are cranky, lazy doorstops, who eat for free and fancy themselves indispensable. If they drew a salary for this, we would call them senators.
I’m not complaining. When you start a consultancy, you have to decide if you want to do the thing you do, or if you want to start a business that does the thing you do. I chose the former.
I want to be a writer, not the administrator of a writing firm, and this is a very important distinction that I’ve chosen by observing others. Salespeople who becomes sales managers. Reporters who become news directors. I learned just because you’re competent at something doesn’t mean you’re competent at leading others who do that something, and perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t mean you’ll like it.
I once worked for a talented communicator who had a gift for serving her clients. Unfortunately she could barely manage to invoice those clients, and if they opted not to pay, she had zero skills at collecting. She therefore did not manage to pay her employees with any great regularly.
Although at the time, I was annoyed that I didn’t get paid, (I should have known something was up when my coworkers didn’t seem surprised by this) in hindsight, I just feel sorry for her. She had abandoned a job she was good at for a job at which she has no skill whatsoever.
I got into the business of writing & content creation because it brings me the most joy. Doing the thing that brings you joy and running a business that does the thing that brings you joy are definitely not the same. I’m very clear on this, which means I also have to be okay with taking on only the number of clients I can serve by myself. As Elaine from The Solopreneur Specialist puts it, solopreneurs “want a business that’s profitable, but that doesn’t take over their life.” To me, that’s what success looks like.
While I never wanted to be anyone’s boss, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a boss. I hear a lot of solopreneurs talk about starting a consultancy so they can “be their own boss.” This is not my experience.
Sure, I don’t have anyone who makes me check before I get a haircut (like I did as a television news reporter) or who makes me take down a tweet they don’t think is appropriate. (also common in television news) But I routinely find myself dropping everything to help a client who has a last minute emergency. I think of what my clients would think before I publish anything online, and I care far more about what my clients think than I ever did about what my boss thought.
Because I’m a solopreneur and can only work with a few clients, these amazing organizations are hand-selected. I am so grateful to have them, and want them to understand how much I appreciate them and their business every day. They are absolutely my bosses.
I’ve been lucky so far in that my clients have all come to me. That may not/will likely not always be the case, but I do believe that having a clear picture of what you want your consultancy to look like will help you attract clients that meet your goals, and allow you to help them meet theirs.