How to Grow Your Business While Staying True to Your Craft
When our inner artist and inner entrepreneur are at odds, how do we grow a freelance business?
I’ve been freelancing since before the gig economy was a thing. It’s all I’ve known for almost two decades. Despite being comfortably successful at it, in the back of my mind I’m always wondering: Could I be doing better? Could I be growing more?
Freelancing has created an amazing job for me, but it’s just a job. The income stops if I stop working. I’m still trading my time and attention for money. There’s no legacy, no systems, no intrinsic business value larger than myself to sell or pass on. I am my business.
Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I run an efficient operation that allows me to spend most of my time hands-on with my design craft, intimately helping wonderful clients solve their most important UX and visual challenges. I work from home, never commute, and enjoy a good life balance with my family. I can’t complain about my privileged middle-class lifestyle, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering if I can create something even greater.
Is Paul Jarvis right when he says staying small is the next big thing? Or am I missing an opportunity to be more entrepreneurial by leveraging efficient systems to scale up and build something larger than myself? It’s a dilemma that haunts me. I’ve failed to find a path to growth that works for me.
- I’d like to move away from always trading my time and attention for money. Diversified and more passive income streams are good.
- I’d like to create something larger than myself. A system that could keep going even when I stop working. Something with value beyond my own experience that could be sold or passed on.
- I’d like opportunities for more intimate collaboration, and to attract larger clients with more meaningful projects and higher budgets. There’s a plateau to what kind of work clients will trust to a solo freelancer, and I’m already bumping into that ceiling.