Earlier this week, I had a coffee conversation with a fellow content marketing freelancer. She has previously been a full-time content marketer at a email marketing agency, and then at a local start up. When the poor cultures of those companies got to be too much, she decided to take the leap and become a freelancer. Our discussion landed on how freelancers get started earning regular income for the first time. That reminded me that there are (at least) three different kinds of people.
- People who enjoy playing without a net
- Individuals who have money, but no sense of urgency
- Those who can’t imagine that kind of pressure
Necessity is the mother of invention
Playing without a net means you might fall, and you might fall really hard. No safety net means if something needs to be done, you have to do it. It also means that unless you get it done, no money is coming in the door. My freelancing friend, when she just got started, sent an email or made a phone call or met in person with every person that she knew that might be able to help her get started.
When she told a friend how she gained enough clients to make a living, her friend replied, “I have no idea how anyone could ever do that!” Being a freelancer or founder is not for everyone, but there’s only one way to find out if it’s for you, and that’s to do it.
When I saw this post from Laura Hodgson on Linkedin, it reminded me why enjoy working without a net. When it’s just you, either as a freelancer where is the founder of a start up, you do exactly what you have to do and nothing less. The pressure is all on you. Pressure and constraints lead to greater innovation, more creative solutions, and the hard learning of getting stuff done.
A former neighbor of mine celebrated a birthday yesterday. Seeing their birthday on Facebook reminded me of one of the first conversations I had with that person. She said that she worked for a start up software company in sales, and was on full commission. I asked her how she dealt with such pressure, and she calmly replied, “that’s how I work. I’m used to it.”
Constraints are the engine fuel of innovation
I have also worked with entrepreneurs who have a very comfortable life, either from previous victories or from having a very successful long career. Not to say anything bad about these types of people, but they just have no sense of urgency, mainly because they don’t need the money. They don’t need to have instant income to pay the bills. That’s good for them in that they’ve been successful financially. However, it doesn’t always make for a great entrepreneur, because there are no time constraints or financial constraints.
What I mean by time or financial constraints is that you have a deadline. In the startup world, we call this “runway”. Runway is how long you have to take off, to get in the air, so to speak. I’ve never not had a deadline or limited runway. I think that likely fuels my inclination to work well under pressure. If I knew I had millions in the bank, I don’t think I would work with the same tenacity.
Which of these three kinds of people would you prefer to be?