Work in the freelance world is growing with giant steps, and this did not arise from the pandemic. For many years now, many professionals have decided to offer their services independently, through the internet for clients in their country and abroad. The truth is that not everyone (and I would dare say nobody) leaves university with the necessary tools to be entrepreneurs. We are suddenly alone with a lot of technical knowledge in our minds in front of a huge world, full of uncertainty, competitors, traps, tools, and news.

The entrepreneur professional needs to strengthen internal skills and ways of thinking, and to know the external tendencies. In this article, we will summarize some pieces of advice that we all should take into account:

Skills, thoughts and internal feelings:

The concept of internal locus and external locus of control: to be able to be entrepreneurs, we need to incorporate the concept of self-responsibility. Entrepreneurs have a way of acting related to what is called internal locus. These people accept responsibility for what happens, and they believe they can have an influence on their environment to achieve what they want. They understand that everything depends on their ability, their efforts. The opposite profile, the non-entrepreneur, is the person who states that their environment is responsible for what happens and that they do not have any sort of influence on it. Therefore, the result will be independent from actions. That is the reason why the entrepreneur is always persistent, always alert, always in action. Learn to observe what happens and to differentiate the factors that we cannot change from those we can change, and work on that. I recommend the book “O poder da autorresponsabilidade” (The Power of Self-Responsibility) by Paulo Vieira.

The concepts of “luck” and “good luck”: do you know the difference between these terms? I recommend the book “La buena suerte” (Good Luck) by Fernando Trias de Bes and Álex Rovira. Oftentimes, we hear that, in order to be successful, “we have to be in the right place at the right time”, but, what if we ask ourselves how we can get to that place and that moment? Maybe waiting for circumstances is not enough, but instead, we need to create them every day. What did you do today to get closer to that client who needs your services? Are you waiting for them to magically find your profiles? Google’s algorithms do not move by themselves.

The concept of continuous learning: some time ago, I set a daily goal: “go to bed with more knowledge than I had when I woke up”, and, truth be told, it seems to work. Many times, we underestimate the importance of being constantly learning. A simple subscription to a professional magazine gives us a daily read of no more than 15 minutes about the most current topics on our field of work. Nowadays, there are plenty of courses and distance learning opportunities. We do not even need to leave our homes! And, when you start reading, you realize that there is still a lot to learn. Those who are convinced they know everything already, then, know nothing.

Observing the external market:

Being persistent with the (digital) presence: occasionally, maintaining the activity in our social networks can require a lot of time, and not everybody likes doing it. Sometimes, we do it based on what we believe is correct and we do not stop to think about the audience, about the content they really like (which is not always the same that we like), and about the strategies that exist. Perhaps, it is time to invest in a community manager or in courses on digital marketing and social networking. In this article, you will see why, sometimes, investing some money can save us a lot of time and headaches. This also includes our contact network. Today, meeting online is very simple. Take advantage of it to contact other professionals, to meet people who work like you do. Create and keep alliances.

Planning and organization: the client you have been waiting for, chasing and dreaming about has arrived! But they started asking questions that we do not know how to answer. Are you ready to create a quote with competitive rates and a comfortable deadline, and to send it promptly? Do you have all the tools to complete the job? Have you defined the payment methods to adapt to the client instantly? What if the client wants to negotiate? Are you ready to defend your work with a sensible justification, not only with the well-known “I am a professional and I have my diploma on the wall”, which is entirely valid but, sometimes, not enough? If you do not have it ready, do not be afraid nor despair. Start making a list of what you need and solve every issue one by one.

The concept of networking: in many disciplines, we are set to believe that our university classmates will soon be our new competitors. What if we saw them as colleagues, allies, members of the team? Everything changes, and I speak from experience. We can all learn from everybody. We may all need the help from our classmates (or our competitors, if you want to call them that way). And, sometimes, it goes beyond our field. Networking is not only giving out business cards without even asking the name of who is receiving them. Networking implies creating a connection, understanding the other person’s business, and helping them to grow too. Look for business networking groups. Look for professional networks that share your working philosophy.

–     The concept of Givers Gain: kindness generates more kindness. Does it take time? Sometimes, it does. Does everybody return favors? Well… no. But, in general, the person who gives, receives. If we learn to distinguish between those who want to take advantage and those who really want to establish an alliance to strengthen and grow our contact networks and help our businesses grow at the same time, then, we will be in the right place. I could state for sure that a big part of my clients has come from conversations, recommendations, and contact networks. With those networking groups, I learnt what I am writing now (in fact, the concept of Givers Gain was explained to me by Lucas Iani Salmazo, who I met through other networking circumstances). Do not leave aside your colleague who needs help. That way, we all grow. Remember that success has nothing to do with money. The pillars that make us strong are many.