The word “freelancer” has a bit of a stigma attached to it for the people outside of the freelance world. There’s a number of misconceptions about what kind of people we are and kind of business we do. True, I don’t have a time clock to punch when I start my work day and I don’t even own a pair of panty hose, but I am not just a free-agent design nomad. I’m a business owner! My business may only have one employee (that one being me,) but that makes it no less a business.
Starting out, it can be difficult to wrap your head around this and really embrace it. Being a “free agent” is so much easier, you are still like you used to be when you were an employee, only now – your clients are your boss! Right? WRONG! I think this attitude can be detrimental to a one-person business and as I’ve come to terms with my own entrepreneurship I’ve learned a lot about being a business owner and not just a freelancer.
Something I see as an important part of defining your operation as a real BUSINESS? Setting normal business hours.
I know! One of the benefits of being an independent professional means you DON’T have to do a typical 9 to 5 day — but it is still very important to have regularly scheduled business hours. Depending on your clients needs and your industry you can set these to be the most productive for your business.
We do have more freedom to modify our schedules when things come up or if you just need to take an extended lunch on a random Wednesday. What’s important that your clients have a frame of reference to know when they can get a hold of you. I keep pretty typical hours in my studio of Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm. The reason I chose this because most of my clients work traditional hours and I want to be available to them when it’s going to be of the most benefit to them.
You don’t have to think of this as being at the mercy of your clients sleep cycle. Setting a regular schedule can be liberating! If you have set hours of operation – this frees you from feeling obligated to jump on the random email question you might receive from a client at 2am on a Saturday night. Your clients accept this, because they view you as any other business. We all know that if we want to talk to our dentist, we call during his office hours. We don’t show up at the yoga studio at 2am and wonder why all the lights are out! Businesses have normal hours of operation, so set some for yours! Of course, I work outside of my business hours — I just can’t help myself! But, having that guidelines sets boundaries for both you and your clients.