Making the decision to sell or close a business is a big one. Likewise, if you've been freelancing professionally, it's a big decision to close the operation and go back to a full-time 8 to 5 job.
➡️ Is the whole business in shambles? Or are there particular aspects that can be changed in order to make things better?
➡️ Are you relying on freelancing websites and, by extension, nightmare clients?
➡️ We live in an age of constant screens and distractions. Take the time to get still and quiet and figure out what you really want.
Links where I can be found: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/2023/01/30/updates-housekeeping/
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here's your host Sara Causey.
Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. In today's episode, I want to talk about knowing when to quit NAFTA. Pardon me, I do have a throat lozenge gin. Before I sat down to record this episode, I had recorded another episode for my nighttime podcast and my voice has been a little bit unhappy with me, I'm also having some kind of sinus and allergy drainage today. So it is what it is. If I sound a bit funny, I can't get rid of the lozenge. Or then I won't be able to talk. I had a conversation recently. I have to be unnecessarily vague here. I will just call the person John Doe. not his real name, obviously. But John was feeling stuck. And his question was, I'm feeling really burned out. I'm frustrated with my business. And I need to decide, should I stay? Or should I go? Should I stay in business? Or should I just go back to a corporate job. And it was really not something that John had ever thought he would feel. And I related to this conversation very much. As I talked about on the air. Last year, I had some periods of real burnout. I felt like Gordon Ramsay, you know, when he goes into a bad restaurant, he's like, shut it down. And I never, ever thought that I would feel that way ever, not even for a fleeting moment, I have worked my hind end off, to build up my business, and to get my name out there and to really become a brand unknown person. It does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work, and you have to be persistent and diligent about it. So last year, when I was struggling with burnout, it was a surprise to me to just thought, my God, I never imagined that I would feel this way. The thought of going back to a nine to five job, what in the hell is going on in my mind? For me, the appeal of it was, hey, from Monday through Friday, from nine to five or eight to five, nowadays, you know what you've got to do, you can sit as long as you can do it remotely. Hey, is it really that bad? So I took some quiet time to figure out what was going on in my head. Now, standard disclaimer here, I don't give you advice. And I don't tell you what to do. If you're having financial problems, you need to talk to a professional if you're having legal issues, talk to an attorney. Same thing with coaching, get get a hold of somebody that's trustworthy, who is credentialed, they have some kind of expertise that you need access to, you and I are not in that kind of a relationship. So I can't speak to whatever's going on in your life and your business. I sit here and I opine for your entertainment only. And that's it. So what I did was, I went into my quiet space. And this is something that I think is a wise idea to do. Because in our busy world full of screens, and bells and whistles, people don't take as much of that quiet, meditative solitude time as they ought to. For some people journaling is more effective. Get into a quiet space, I like to use pen and paper. Because I think when you use a cell phone or your computer screen, there's always the possibility of getting distracted by an email. Or if you start getting into some territory, that's tough, that's emotionally difficult, some heavy lifting that you would rather avoid, it becomes super tempting to say, I'll just get on Facebook, or I'll just get on Instagram, I'll just check this one email, I'll just do this one thing. And before you know it, you're quiet time hasn't happened. Quiet time was a joke, because you were too busy with screens. So if it's better to get a pen and paper, or to just go into a quiet area, turn on some meditative music and just be I have found that is an excellent way to get back in touch with myself and to just have this real conversation. Nobody's listening. Nobody knows. That's the thing. So you don't have to worry about those potential judgments. What would my spouse say? What would my business partner say? What would the kids say? Well, my parents think that monologue of judgment, you can just whip that up, because it's just you talking to you. It's you having a dialogue inside your own head to figure out what do I actually feel here? What's actually going on with me. And when I did that, it was really illuminating. And I realized that for me when I was going through that period of burnout, it wasn't really that I wanted to shut my business down and go back to a corporate job. I had allowed some clients to get into my funnel and then into my practice, that I would have been better off not interacting with people who were rude, pushy, aggressive, people that were impossible to please. The type of client where Jesus could appear and turn water into wine and they would still gripe. They want somebody to move mountains perform signs, wonders and miracles. And even if you have done your best to expectations set at the front end, they don't care. They want to use you and abuse you. They feel like you are a second or third class citizen. They are the client. They are a God amongst mere mortals. You are a freelancer or a consultant. Therefore, you're some subhuman class of thing. So for me, once I realized the problem here is not being a business owner. The problem is not well, I've run out of steam, and I just don't want to do this anymore. I'd rather plug in and be an employee, be a worker be again. The problem is I've let people in that are making my life hell, they're stressing me out. I don't like them. They probably don't like me either. It's not a good fit, things are not going the way that they should. I'm being micromanaged. I'm being mistreated. I'm not showing up as the authority figure. Because every time I try to they subvert me, once I realized that was the issue, it was easier for me to say, here's how I fix it, I will finish the projects that I've committed to with these people. And I will give it my best effort, I'm not going to do anything to slack off or give them less than great performance, I'm going to try my damnedest to leave them with a good result. And then after that I'm hitting the door, I will I will not do any further business with them. Once this project has been wrapped up. That was huge for me, cutting that deadweight, getting rid of people who were abusive, rude, and horrible, in my opinion, huge for me. So I had this conversation with John, I had a lot of empathy there. Because I got it. I knew why he was potentially feeling the way that he did. And that was my suggestion to him. Why don't you take that quiet time? Like, what is it that appeals to you about going back to a corporate job versus what is it about the business, like, try to figure out what's really going on in your head. Because sometimes we don't know. Like I said, there's all this noise, there's all this distraction, it's easy to get lost in other things and get distracted by other things so that you're not even in tune with what you yourself are feeling. Sometimes we don't even know our own emotions until we get into a quiet space, or we start journaling. And then we can through free association start to pin it down. So in John situation, he had been working corporate job and was not unhappy from what he told me he was not unhappy. But during the early part of the pandemic, he was laid off. And he struggled to find anything in his industry. So he did like, you know, some DoorDash and food delivery type things to make ends meet, while he looked for another full time job and just couldn't find anything in his industry. So he decided to become a professional freelancer. And he went on the major websites set as shingle out. And he was able to get some clients and to keep some money coming in. But he was miserable. And when he took that time to get quiet, he realized like these freelancing websites are sucking the life out of me. It's not that I don't like the work that I'm doing. It's just that these freelancing websites suck. Now, John ultimately made the decision to go back to a corporate job, because he did not want to get into the work, the time, the effort, the money that it takes to establish yourself as a business, and to establish yourself as a known commodity, to sell yourself, basically to go out onto the open market and say, here's who I am, here's what I do. This is me, you want this or you don't, let's figure it out. He didn't want to go through all that. So he took his time, and found another full time job. Another thing that I had suggested to him was not to roll the sidewalks up immediately. Because let's face it, corporate jobs, they love to roll the red carpet out for you when you're interviewing, as well as maybe your first day or two on the job. But after you get into it when they feel like you're trapped and you're not going to run, that's when they start to let the skeletons out of the closet and you realize, oh God,
maybe I shouldn't have done this. So one suggestion I had for John was, don't immediately shut everything down. Don't put your profiles on private, keep the door open. Don't commit to anything that you're not going to really do. But don't completely eliminate this as a possible means of revenue until you're sure. Give it two to three weeks, maybe even two to three months. Before you shut things down. Put your profiles on private, leave that door open, don't take on any work. Just put your profiles on private and don't take on any new clients until you see how this is gonna go. So for him, he's happy in a corporate job. It made sense to him to quit the entire freelancing business and just say I'm done. I've had enough it helped me too. Stay paid during the pandemic. But the price I had to pay mentally and emotionally to get that money was more than I really wanted to deal with. And I get it, I totally get it. These are important decisions that we have to make. And these are real conversations that we have to have with ourselves. If you freelance professionally, if you own and operate your own business, it's not sunshine and roses every day, it's just not. There's a string on Reddit about freelance websites suck. And there's one person who's written a comment here in response to that, that says, I find the issue to be that most of these websites are being saturated by people willing to work for peanuts. This has resulted in clients thinking that freelancing is just another form of cheap labor and quote, yeah, preach it. That's it. A lot of times on freelancing websites, what you find are a race to the bottom on pricing, people clawing and scraping for peanuts, somebody posts a brief that looks even halfway good. They're gonna get throttled with proposals. Now, when the great resignation was real, when it was actually going strong. You would find more proposals on these freelancing websites with fewer applicants to them. But as soon as there was that little quaver, that little quiver, as soon as the great resignation started to wind down, the balance of power shifted, and you started to see it, somebody would post a project, and all of a sudden there would be 20 to 50 people putting their name in the hat for it, and it's like, oh, God, we're back to this again. It gets to be a race to the bottom of pricing. Another thing that I think can absolutely wear you the hell out is it tends to just ipso facto, in my opinion, by the very nature of the thing. These freelancing websites have the tendency to attract in shitty clients. Yeah, I said it bada boom, bada bam, I said it. It tends to attract in micromanagers people who are abusive, and people who want to use that feedback score, like the sword of Damocles. I don't want to lose my five star rating, or I don't want to not be top rated. I don't want to have a 100% or a 95% success score. Therefore, I will bend myself around and twist myself into a pretzel. I'll do unlimited revisions. Oh, Mr. Client, I'll just do anything for you to not give me a bad review and torpedo me on this site. It's so stilted in my opinion, towards the client and not toward the freelancer, it feels like the Freelancers have very little recompense, very little recourse if a client absolutely and unmercifully Shanks them in the back. These sites seem to be built on the idea that the client is God. And the Freelancer is scum. freelancers are a dime a dozen if you quit the site, it's no skin off our nose, we'll just have you replaced within five seconds. So who cares? You have to consider whether or not that's an arena that you want to play in. Sometimes it makes sense to and sometimes it doesn't. But I think you need to be aware of the type of client just by the very nature of those websites being the way that they are. Are they typically going to attract in people that want to treat you well treat you with dignity and treat you as an authority figure? I would say probably 70% of the time, maybe more like 75 to 80 Okay, 70 to 80% of the time. No, it attracts cheapskates, micromanagers and a holes. And then you might get lucky 20 to 30% of the time and find great people who do want to treat you right, and who do want to formulate some type of long term respectful relationship with you. But man, the hoops you have to jump through to try to get there. It's quite something. There's an article that was published on medium by Lizzie Davey, and the title of her article is freelancing websites to avoid like the plague. It was published July 14 of 2020. So right in the throes of the pandemic, we had so many people that were being laid off so many people that were throttling these websites, trying to just find somebody anybody some money any money, please. So the timing of it is very good. And she talks about in particular for her on her list. The main culprits that she should avoid that you should avoid according to her Upwork freelancer.com people per hour fiber and Guru. She does add the following caveat. At the start of my freelance career, I use these sites a lot and I actually managed to get a fair amount of okay paying jobs on Have, but the effort I put into getting jobs was not worth the smattering of sporadic projects I landed. Instead, I could have focused my energy elsewhere and grown my business on my own terms. site like sites like these are a vortex for freelancers, you can end up getting stuck in them for years, not knowing how to break free and as a result taking on work that's boring and really low paid in quote, I would add to that, first of all, let's give that a round of applause. I would add to that you can also get stuck with clients that are abusive clients that are awful, that treat you like pawns gum, and then use that feedback as the sword of Damocles. Well, if you don't do this for me, I'll torpedo you. Or worse yet, backstabbers. I'll smile to your face. And in your public feedback, I'll tell you that things are sunshine and roses, but then in the private feedback, I will shank the hell out of you. You know, the days come and folks where if it hasn't happened already, the days coming where somebody is going to subpoena private feedback. You know, y'all think that stabbing somebody in the back behind the scenes is so cool. It's so funny. There's no consequence to it. One of these days, somebody's gonna go after that. Because it's not cool. And it's not funny. If you have a problem with somebody wants you freakin say it to their face. Don't go little sneak sneak little creep, creep and do it behind their back. But yet, you talk ish, though, here we go. That's the type of dynamic that these websites seem to promote backstabby clients users and abusers, you have to be so careful. It's like Caveat emptor on steroids. If somebody comes into my funnel, and I have no idea who they are, they weren't a referral. They're not somebody I've worked with in the past, they're just completely random, I really try to vet them hard. Pardon me, that was actually a human at the door and not one of the Rams, they're still bad about knocking, in fact, and one of my horses will just flat out knock on the door like a human. Basically, you want to vet anybody, whether it's a warm referral, a warm lead somebody you were friends with 10 years ago, whatever, that everybody do not assume anything, go through your intake process, go through your vetting process and make sure this person is legit. I would say if it's somebody that's coming from a freelancing website, you need to have even more vetting, even more layers of protection. Because you've got to go into this knowing if I don't do everything that they want me to do, if I don't grovel at their feet, they can stab me in the back. And I'm not going to have much choice in it, I'm just going to have to lay there and take the beating. I have a friend who is in the military for several years. And this is a conversation that he and I have had before. And as he has told me on several occasions, sometimes in life, you gotta stand up a fight. Other times you have to lay down and take your beating. And with these freelancing websites with clients from hell, wow, there's times where you're not really going to be able to have much recourse and fighting back, you're just going to have to lay there and take the beating. So at the front end, when you're doing your vetting, be careful about getting happy years, be careful about focusing too much on the potential money. Really think about, Do I want to saddle up with this person? How much do I trust them? How much do I know about them?
When you're having your quiet time, and you're thinking things through, because it's a big decision. If you have built a business, and you're thinking about selling it, or just shutting it down, if you have been a professional Freelancer on a full time basis, and you're thinking about stopping that in order to go back to a full time corporate job and be back in the cube farm, but in seat with a boss again. You don't want to make that decision lightly. So when you're having that quiet time, don't be afraid to consider different components of your business or your freelancing operation. Are you trying to throw the baby out with the bathwater? Is it possible that you just need to fine tune some things maybe change the type of clients you deal with? Or get off of those freelancing websites if they're causing you a big headache? Are there some things within the business that you can fine tune and change around? Or are you simply done? Have you had enough and it's time to go back to a corporate job? Those are decisions that only you can make for yourself? But I think it's worthwhile to just explore is the problem fixable, or is it not? Stay safe, stay sane, and I will see you in the next episode.
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