Last month, we spoke to Elle, Fitness Instructor and Founder of the Keep it SimpElle fitness blog. An ex-athlete, Elle fell into the world of self-employment when her side hustle of teaching fitness classes turned into a full-time career.
Eight years on, she’s got heaps of experience at being her own boss and of working in the self-employed community. So, we thought it’d be useful to ask Elle about her three biggest challenges — and the steps she took to overcome them. Here’s what she had to say...
1. Sometimes, there’s a lack of time to think or prepare.
“I overcame that by letting go of perfectionism. My first classes didn’t have to be perfect. Over time, I learned more and more and improved the format.”
Then came 2020 and a global pandemic to navigate around. Time wasn’t on Elle’s side as she had to build a new business model, at break-neck speed, that would fit with the “new normal” and keep everyone safe at a distance. Still, she quickly decided to move the business on-line.
While it’s difficult not to crave perfection (let’s face it, your business is your baby), Elle didn’t want to delay the launch, so instead, she chose to iterate and improve her online experience gradually, and over time. Doing it this way round (and getting launched quickly), has meant she’s been able to keep existing clients while also onboarding new ones.
And it’s this kind of quick decision-making and learn-as-you-go attitude that so many business owners are having to grapple with now given the changing rules around Covid-19.
2. Growing a business when you’re a team of one
‘It was also a matter of finding other ways to deliver my message at the same quality, but in a way that took less time.’
Another challenge, shared with many self-employed people, is how to achieve sustainable growth as a one-person band.
By choosing to create on-demand classes (so clients can turn up on their watch), and also outsourcing things she didn’t need to do herself, Elle’s been able to free up both her time and headspace to concentrate on the one thing that matters most — delivering high-quality fitness classes in an inclusive and fun environment.
Ask yourself, what do you need to turn up for? Are you ultimately throwing time and energy into areas that just don’t require you? If you are, that’s a good indication that getting an additional set of hands-on board will be key to your success.
Even though running your own business means wearing many hats (marketer, finance, administrator, founder, and more), there are people out there who know more than you in some of those areas.
The very online spaces that you use to drum up work, are also filled with people who could help your business to grow. Spaces like:
This brings us to Elle’s third challenge...
3. Being able to afford the extra help
“It came down to really learning the basics of pricing - figuring out what other people's services would cost me and then building those into my services so that I could cover those costs and still make money.”
Pricing is one thing that many self-employed people dread. But It can really make or break a business.
Identifying how much your services should cost is not just about how much you would like to earn, but also about factoring in the cost of hiring others to help you along the way. It’s really key to driving profitability so you’re not constantly dipping into your own pocket.
By reverse-engineering the process and focusing on the cost of running her business, Elle was able to incorporate additional help that enabled her to grow. If this is something you need help with right now, here are a few resources to help you along the way:
- How to strategically price your design freelance work by Invision (Worth reading even if you’re not a designer!)
- A beginners guide to pricing as a freelancer by The Start-Up
- How to calculate your freelance hourly rate by Jennifer Bourn
- Freelance pricing guide by Work Notes
In all, growth is a tricky business for any self-employed person, but setting yourself up for success means laying the right foundations so that your business can develop organically.
We hope that these tips will help you along the way!
We’re keen to shed light on as many incredible self-employed people as possible, so if you have a great story or some sound advice to share, message us Coconut Bite and you could be featured in one of our community spotlight articles.