Your Freelancing Goals

I started freelancing with a few years of Ruby experience and about a dozen applications launched into production. So why did I spend a year working on PHP?

One important aspect to freelancing, any business actually, is the founder’s goals.

Why are you starting this business? What do you want out of it? How do you want your life to change?

But really, you need to consider what it is that you want from your business.

Either you can think about it before you start like every book, class, and consultant recommends. You know the proper way. Business plans. And so on.

Or you can think about your goals after you start. When you have the time. :)

I like to recommend both options, if you have a choice.

Before you’ve started

Before you get started freelancing, take some time to think about what your long-term goals are.

Ask yourself things like:

  • Why are you starting?
  • What will your business look like in 5 years from now?
  • What will your personal life look like?

You’ll want to take your time with these but don’t worry about getting too detailed. Think about them and work on them until you feel like you’ve done enough. For whatever you think “enough” means.

For me, my goals where to create software that helped people and improved lives. Pretty vague right?

After you’ve started

If you’ve already started, think though the same questions. But try to think about them as the ideal state of your business and not where it is now.

You don’t want to set goals based on where you on now, you want them based on where you could be in the future.

This will help guide your freelance business. I know it can be hard to find the right or perfect projects, especially at first. But over time if you continue to steer a bit closer to what you want, eventually you’ll get there.

This was the reason why I got distracted by PHP projects early on. My goal was so vague that taking PHP projects and even C# projects fulfilled it.

It wasn’t until a few months later that I changed my goal and started to transition back to my core experience with Ruby and Rails. Until then I had my own internal struggles trying to figure out what to do.

An exercise

To put the practical spin on this, answer the following questions when you’re thinking about your goals. Make them as detailed as you can (remember that you’re the judge for when you’ve done “enough”).

  1. Why are you starting a business?
  2. What will your business look like in 5 years from now?
  3. What will your personal life look like in 5 years from now?
  4. What about 10 years? 20? 30? Think about what you want to be doing when you “retire”.
  5. What aspect of your business do you want to focus on? Money, fame, recognition, fun, freedom, etc.
  6. Why focus on that aspect?

Write all of this down. Even if you’re just brainstorming ideas. It’s important for the next step.

Next: Schedule an appointment with yourself three months from today. This time will be used to re-read your goals, and reasons. Measure how you’re doing and see if you’re heading in the right direction.

Then keep doing these appointments every three months. Even once you reach your goals, re-evaluate them and see what you can do to improve.

Having a destination in mind will make it easier to weigh decisions in your everyday work. I know it did for me.

Eric Davis

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