I wanted to create a safe space to celebrate the solopreneur highs and get real about those inevitable lows — and I really feel like we’ve done that together. Whether you were a day-one subscriber, are a new reader, or have shared your thoughts with the community, I am so grateful that you’ve trusted me with a spot in your inbox. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I’ve been a full-time freelance journalist for almost four years, so being my own boss isn’t exactly new terrain. But, writing this newsletter (almost) every week has taught me so much about how to be an even better self-starter. Whether you’re ready to take your one-person show to the next level or enjoy a stroll down memory lane, check out the biggest lessons I’ve learned after one year of Office Hours.
Listen To Your Heart
At first, one of the most nerve-wracking things about starting Office Hours was that it was a strictly solo endeavor. Unlike working with my wonderful clients, I don’t have an editor to bounce ideas off of — and that can be a little scary. But, over the past year, I’ve learned to block out the noise and trust my gut on everything: The anecdotes I share, the topics I cover, and even the pictures included in every issue. (You might remember a bunch of masked selfies encouraging you to vote back in the fall!)
I know that not everyone is going to agree with my opinions, but as the sole voice of Office Hours, I had to make sure this newsletter was authentically me. I don’t type any of this to give myself a pat on the back. Rather, I think it’s an important lesson that we can all bring into our businesses. Go with your gut. Trust your vision. After all, isn’t that exactly how you got to where you are today?
Community Is Key
Sure, your business is technically a one-person show. But, let’s be honest: Behind every self-starter is an army of solopreneurs cheering them on. I’ve always loved my freelancer friends, but Office Hours has proven just how important community is. (A special shoutout to all the amazing people I’ve met through this newsletter.)
Your self-starter friends are ready to offer their two cents at the drop of a hat, plus they remind you that you’re not alone. (I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by all of the “I needed this today” emails I’ve received after each issue as well as the “I feel the same way” responses during the newsletter’s virtual happy hours.)
Want to expand your own self-starter circle? Check out these tips for creating your own community. And, speaking of those happy hours, let’s do one IRL soon?
Commit To Yourself…
Office Hours is my passion project, not something I do to pay the bills. I’ll be the first to admit that it would’ve been very easy to send out a few issues last summer and go on an indefinite hiatus once the world slowly started to get back to some semblance of normalcy. But, I’ve made a conscious decision to give my newsletter as much TLC as my bandwidth will allow. I’ve invested in a fabulous logo (thanks again, Emma!), stuck with a somewhat regular schedule, and thought seriously about growing this community. I’m proud of my commitment to Office Hours, plus it feels really good to do something for myself.
What is your passion project? How can you embrace your unique skills? Show off what you got and stick with it! I’m cheering you on!
…And Prioritize Yourself
Over the past year, we’ve talked a lot about solopreneurship and mental health — and it’s encouraged me to look inward, too. In the first few years of my freelancing career, I’d say yes to basically any opportunity that came my way. However, piling too much on my plate would result in me waking up early, going to bed late, and making minimal time to enjoy life.
After speaking with so many incredible self-starters about the toxic hustle culture, I’ve made a conscious effort to put myself first. While I still bring a positive, can-do attitude to every project I take on, I’m also giving myself permission to decline assignments that don’t align with my interests or rate. I’m trying to make weekends and vacations sacred again, which is easier said than done. And, most important, I’m cutting myself some slack and prioritizing rest. (Yes, even if that means skipping a week of the newsletter.) After all, how can I show up for my clients if I’m not showing up for myself?
- Accomplished author (plus former Hustler of the Week and friend of the newsletter) Hannah Orenstein is looking for a book-loving TikTok user to help her create content on a bimonthly, freelance basis. No formal social media experience is required, but a genuine passion for #BookTok is a must! Interested? Tell Hannah about yourself and your experience here.
Hustler of the Week: Kate Talbot
What inspired you to become your own boss?
I wanted to live a happy, healthy life and spend [more] time with family and friends, since I am a local to the Bay Area. After working at an intense startup, which fired three quarters of the staff (including me!) out of the blue, I knew that I had to take my career into my own hands. I knew that there was a need for marketing consultants, especially in Silicon Valley, and was able to fill that need. Since that leap six years ago, I’ve had incredible opportunities and adventures I never would have had from the nine to five. I pinch myself everyday that I get to live a life that is wild and free, while making more money with less stress!
What is your favorite part about being your own boss? Least favorite?
Favorite part is trying new things like launching my own PR and social media course, or being a social media expert. [Doing] things that terrify me, [which] I then accomplish, allows me to never be bored. My least favorite is when family and friends don’t understand what I do and, because it’s untraditional, they don’t value how hard it really is.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since becoming your own boss?
Being your boss allows you to understand your strength. You have to fight for many things, like getting invoices paid or being heard when you’re the only woman in the room. It’s surprised me, the things I’ve been able to achieve when I believe in myself.
(Psst…like what you see? You can subscribe to “Office Hours with Kelsey Mulvey” here.)