I don’t think there’s a business owner, or freelancer, out there that would tell you that everything they did when they first started out, is the same stuff they’re doing today. Here’s my story…
I went out on my own in January 2021, thinking I’d leave the technology industry, and become a marketing consultant. I’m good at both tech, and marketing. I have skills and experience in both fields, but I’d become tired of the tech sector – I didn’t know why, but I’d had enough. The natural transition for me was to start helping other people with marketing, since I’d had such success on my own.
As it turns out, I was totally wrong. Here’s what I’ve learned in six months: I actually love working in tech, but I don’t love working as an employee. I love being a contractor. It turns out that when you’re a contractor or consultant, you can manage your own schedule. You can find clients that don’t have meetings every day. You can make your own hard rules about what you will, and will not do. You can manage your own career. There’s no one there to tell you what skill you have to learn next – you can just pick what fits best for your own trajectory. When you’re a consultant, people value your opinion. They value your skills, because that’s what they’re paying you for. It’s like night and day, and working at arm’s length has made me fall in love with the tech industry all over again.
I also learned that I don’t want to be a marketing consultant. I love marketing and I’m great at it, but what I love the most is really called “business development”. It’s helping a business grow from “just a couple of dudes in their basement” to becoming a viable company that attracts new clients, or new funding opportunities. Combine that with growth marketing, and now you have a viable business.
It also turns out that I LOVE working one on one with people who want to get their shit together, whether as job hunters, or people who need a website, or people who need help engineering a new career, or creating their own small business. I LOVE IT. I want to do more of that, for sure.
So now, I’m finding myself having to re-jig what I’d set out to do just a few months ago. It’s like working on a sculpture and finally realizing that this piece doesn’t go there, it goes THERE instead. Make sense? Sometimes, you need a bit of time to think on it. Most of the time, you need to just do it. I wouldn’t have learned any of this stuff had I not just jumped in and done it. People think too much. They’re in their head too much. They’re on social media too much. If you want to know if you’re good at something, try it out. If you want to know if you actually enjoy something, just go at it. It’s not wasted time if you learn you hated it in the first place.
It’s easy to help clients with little things, like SEO, or how to use Twitter. And I love doing those little contracts because it’s like opening doors for people. What’s hard is finding people to work with long-term. You have to find the people willing to do the hard things. Because I love accompanying people who are game to do the hard things. There’s so much reward in that. There’s so much celebration when we tackle stuff that they never thought they could do.
It’s the same thing with tech. Most start-ups are just missing one little piece to get ahead: someone who can organize them. Someone who can make their work user-friendly. Someone who can take complicated stuff and make it easily accessible. I love start-ups because that’s where new ideas are born. There’s a sense of freedom, of exploration and curiosity. But much like the arts, creativity thrives within a set of boundaries. Someone has to set boundaries that nurture nerds without strangling them. I love that shit.
Over the next little while, I’ll be changing up this website to become just a blog. I’ll write on a weekly basis, while having my afternoon coffee. And, if you ever want to work with me, you could head over to my corporate website, Yippee Ki Yay Inc.
It just makes more sense that way. This is me embracing the changes. And I hope it encourages you to find a way to be flexible, too. Always remain open to changing directions. Learn new skills, ask “what if”, ditch the insecurities. Eventually, you’ll fit into the place that makes the most sense.