Despite the fact that I had spent two years dreaming of owning my own business, I have to admit that starting my very first business as a Freelance Travel Agent was not something I had actually planned. My initial dream of self-employment was to be a travel writer or get involved in the local music recording scene — not to continue in a faction of my current travel career. Yet, I discovered that these four small steps have helped me succeed even in my current creative career.
I was prepared for my big break:
I was ready to start a business. I had taken the OpenU class, “Making a Living Without a Job” taught by Barbara Winter. Through her class, I learned about the free book “Starting a Business in Minnesota” offered by the state of Minnesota. I read every book available and even took a few free small business tax classes at my local library.
I networked with other “self-bossers”:
I started to network with several people I met from that class. We held monthly meetings where we shared information, discussed our obstacles and encouraged the road to self-employment. Although this group has long disbanded, I have repeated this many times and now have found my tribe in my new hometown. We get together at least once a month and with these connections, I have some great friends and more than enough freelance work.
I stayed connected to my former coworkers:
Despite the pain of being laid off for the first time, I did still keep in touch with my former coworkers-and I stayed positive about my old employer. I quickly discovered that this was a great way to connect with others within the industry. This resulted in a referral. This was an opportunity to work at various travel agencies as a freelancer. Essentially, I temped at travel agencies, without the middle man. I quickly discovered that former employers and coworkers were a good source of freelance revenue and to this day, I keep in touch and still get referrals for a variety of jobs, including web design and social media, as well as travel.
I learned to quickly adjust:
Going into new offices meant that I had to quickly adapt to different office systems, computers, and coworkers. This is not always comfortable. Yet, in learning how to adapt, I found I was more engaged in what I was doing. The result was that I was asked back more often and my self-confidence improved. This was 20 years ago and today, I have found that these skills have greatly benefited me. Many people my age do not have this skill and they are struggling in the new freelance job market, while I am thriving.