3 Principles of Success for Independent Professionals

Garrick,
Hi! I’ve heard about you for a few years now (originally from Richard Fink), and have enjoyed reading your blog posts. As a web designer who’s striking out on his own to learn programming and build his own business, do you have any advice? Cheers! – Josh

For the past decade, I’ve been working for myself. Over that time, I’ve had good fortune and made significant missteps. The services I offer my clients today are purposefully and dramatically different from those I offered my first day in business. Across all those challenges – I’ve found 3 constants:

  1. Define what success is for you. Eliminate everything else.
    You can’t have someone else’s success. It’s theirs. It doesn’t fit you in the same way their clothes don’t fit you. The longer you chase after someone else’s success – the further you’ll drift from the success that is uniquely yours. And the longer you’ll be uncomfortable. The world obey’s Sturgeon’s Law. Your success lay somewhere within the remaining 10%. Each day, pursue something that matches your definition of success while eliminating something that doesn’t. This means saying ‘no’. You must do it deliberately. The world doesn’t believe you want to be successful. Stop proving it right.
  2. Force work to fit into your life. It’s the only way you’ll have one.
    In your preferred calendar, enter regular fixed appointments for exercise, steps toward personal life goals, time with loved ones, time away from technology. Always, always keep them. Work is insidious and will tempt you to blow them off. Don’t let the bastard. It’ll kill you. I’m serious – the Japanese even have a word for it – karōshi.
  3. Find a good accountant specializing in independent professionals. Treat them like a partner.
    Good accountants are worth every dollar you pay them. Ones that expertly handle both your personal and professional finances – doubly so. They will force you to be honest with yourself and your business. This honesty brings out who you really are – see #1.

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