Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Define Your Work or Someone Else Will

I have heard it described several times. In a relationship, one is either trying to change someone or get someone to change them. One borrows self, and one gives up self. I think this can also be true in business relationships. But, wouldn't it be great to have more equal relationships? To hold onto more of one's "self."

I think we let others define us when we are unsure or unaware. Giving up you can be unintentional. Or, you can cave when faced with pressure and anxiety. The pressure to conform to others definition of your work can be subtle or intense. Anxiety can leak on you from organizations or individuals. Or, you may have your own anxiety. I define anxiety here as a perception that there is a threat to oneself. Anxiety will reduce when you are clearer about how and when you work.

As an employee, you have less financial risk. Leaders of the company are defining more of your work. Making the transition to self employment can be hard. You want to define your work, but you are out of practice and short on time. With more increased financial risk in your work, you have increased responsibility to define your work.

"Are you the creator of your business or are you just reacting to events and people?" (Karyn Greenstreet)

For self-employed people, it's important to develop your own thoughts and boundaries about how you work. Courageously take the time to bring the way you want to work into awareness:

When You Work: No one is telling you what time to come into the office. What times are convenient for you? How many hours a day are realistic for you? How much time do you want off? I currently offer a variety of hours. It is a blend of offering convenient times to those 9 to 5ers, as well as preserving my own family time. Work when you are most productive, yet don't deprive yourself of down time. Entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas about their business, so there is a tendency to let their business take all of their energy. I find having set work hours, helps me set boundaries with myself and with others.

What You Charge: Know why you charge your fee. Be comfortable saying your fee. And, ask for your fee. Decide whether your fee is negotiable before you start working with a client. I accept a lower fee because I'm currently accepting insurance reimbursement for counseling services. This is my "sliding scale." If you know how much you need to collect to make a profit, you will more confidently present and ask for your fee.

Who Are Your Clients: A common anxiety for self employed people is having enough clients to pay the bills. Everyone wants to have a good income stream. At the beginning of my practice, I think I worked with almost anyone that called my office. I learned that it's not just how many clients I have, but also which clients best fit the way I practice. When you work with clients that are looking for the kind of service you offer, you will find your energy multiplies instead of depletes.

In my field, many people want to define how I work - courts, school, insurance companies, families, and individuals. I want to practice in a way that is true to me. This is when I do my best work.

What about you? Where do you want to better define your work? Carve out the time to decide who, what, and when of your business.

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