Working for yourself can give you as little or as much flexibility as you would like.
Do you want to head to the beach for two hours in the middle of the day?
Do you want to attend that school concert that starts at 11am?
Do you want to spend every Friday having lunch with a different friend every week?
Working for yourself can enable you to do exactly this, however the more people I speak to that work for themselves, the more I understand that it isn't just myself who struggles with maintaining that work life balance. I used to consistently work too many hours for not enough money and seemed to never be "me". Just recently (like 3 months ago) I finally sat down and worked out exactly why I was doing this and the answer was not a surprise. I knew I did it, in fact I knew it was my worst character flaw, but somehow even though I knew I repeated the same behaviour over and over, I never stopped doing it. Until I did!
Wondering What It Was??
Why I Never Said No
It can be very stressful working for yourself and particularly in my line of work. There are so many well qualified good web developers out there and it can be hard to establish yourself in such an over saturated market. My background is programming, and when it became clear that I was going to have to spend many many hours of my non work life staying on top of the constant barrage of changes that goes hand in hand with working as a programmer, I decided that even though I loved the work, I didn't want my life to be just work. Basically while I loved programming, I wasn't a geek in my life. So I morphed into a role that used my coding head, but didn't mean that I was spending every waking moment learning the latest platform changes.
What I hadn't done at this point however was really drill down what my web niche would be. So I never said no. If someone that was a Wordpress client (which I never use) wanted some changes, sure I would do it, but in doing it spent at least double the time it should have taken me because I wasn't a wordpress specialist. A new client would ask me to make changes to their eCommerce store without telling me that it was run through an integration into their physical point of sale. So I would work out how to do it and of course be charging way less than I should because so much of the time was me figuring out a POS system that I'd never used before. I used to think that it wasn't the clients fault I had never used that system before so I couldn't charge them for it, and to a certain extent I do still think that. HOWEVER: by saying yes to everything I was spending my valuable work time learning systems and processes that I would never use again. That was time during which I could have been earining good money. I was, by never saying no, being the Jack of all trades and master of none.
Saying Yes To Saying No
I've spent the last three months embracing my "saying no" principle and honestly its like a light bulb has gone off in my head. It wasn't easy and I"m sure I've said no to work I could have done, however it was important for me to embrace the action of saying no. I felt like if I didn't say no to things that were just outside my scope, I wouldn't say no to anything.
How I Did It
I did what I do best. I broke it down into numbers. I started by sitting down and listing my skills. I made a list of skills I had and then added a capability % against each skill. I created my ideal client and described who they were and why they would use me. I created a project plan for around 10 different development possibilities, from a new website design through to image edits and updates and assigned value to each one. Then I decided that for now, I wouldn't stray more than 10% away from those skills, clients or project costs.
What I did also decide though, was that if a client presented me with a project that was less than 25% outside of my skillset (IE: small changes of text or images on a wordpress website - well within my capabilities but outside of my immediate skill set) instead of saying an outright no, I would say "no - not right now". If the project was outside of my perfect scope of works, I simply told the client I wasn't able to do it because I was fully commited to a few projects that had open end dates. I felt that by doing this I could always give them a call in a month (if I didn't have any work on) and ask if they found someone to help them. If they hadn't I could always fit it in on an immediate basis which would fill my open time frame and give the client a sense of urgency which (fingers crossed) would mean they would commit to the project and provide everything I needed in the most timely manner. I felt that keeping an open relationship would give me options if I needed it, however I've still not made a single phone call to those possible clients.
The Outcome Of No
I actually work a four day week now instead of just saying I do and now that I am well versed in my no responses I don't even feel bad about doing it.
What I worked out was that by not saying no, not only was I making it hard for myself, I was making it hard for my clients too. While they never knew that what they'd asked for wasn't really in my line of work I did realsie that I treated those client differently. I never meant to, but because the level of stress that I had attached to those clients was very real, whenever I heard from them I was wound so tight that I could never have provided them with the level of service I should have. I would just do whatever they asked for and get rid of them as soon as I could. The other thing I discovered was that I was doing myself out of work because by not fully understanding the platform or system they needed edits on, I could never suggest options they could take up. I couldn't say - "look at a later date why don't you consider a dynamic shipping integration" which not only would have been great for that client, but also for my bottom line. If they were a Joomla client I didn't really know how to integrate a shipping component to that so I would never suggest it.
Now that no is ingrained in my vocabulary I've noticed a few things:
Registering your website domain name seems like the most fun thing you can do, and it can indeed be very exciting to secure that desired domain name. I'm not wanting to put a downer on your domain name search, however there are some factors that you should take into consideration prior to that all important purchase.
While it is always a very good idea to grab a .com domain (if you can get it) you really want to try and focus on your locality domain extension. Australia is of course .com.au, New Zealand is .co.nz and the UK is .co.uk.
The reason you will be trying to obtain these domain extensions is that Google considers that if you are using a .com.au domain name, that you are servicing primarily this country and will direct visitors to your website from Australian browsers. You domain name isn't the only factor in Googles consideration to relevant traffic but it does carry quite a bit of weight to how your website can be ranked.
This is a primary consideration if your website is an online store that is freighting primarily to Australian consumers. While you may be able to freight globally, postage costs on larger items can be prohibitive so you may be directing your attention to local purchasers first. A .com.au domain name will help you to address the local clients first.
What I would recommend is that if .com is also available purchase that too. There are no restrictions on a .com domain name so you can either use it to direct traffic to your .com.au website or just keep it so no-one else can grab any traffic meant for you.
Likewise, if a .com.au domain name is gone and it is very specific to your registered company or business name you might be entitled to persuing legal action to get it released to you. Alternatively, use the .com one in the meantime if that is available.
Registration of .au extensions is governed by the AUDA domain administration. Open .au domain extensions include:
asn.au, com.au, net.au, id.au and org.au.
As general information goes (the actual rules on the AUDA website), to register a .au extension, you must be a commercial entity (a company or business) and be registering a domain name that is either a direct representation of your business name or company name, or be directly related to services you provide.
For Example: You could register broomepearls.com.au if you business name was "Broome Pearls", you sold Broome Pearls or maybe grew Broome pearls. What isn't allowed in the .au arena is domain squatting. IE you can't purchase a domain name that doesn't pertain to your business in anyway for the purpose of investment or extortion. So you can't register broomepearls.com.au if you have nothing to do with Broome Pearls. Actually let me clarify that - you could do it, but you would have no case to hold it should a company called Broome Pearls challenge it, and you could be made to hand over the domain name at your own cost.
The requirements are clear however they are not your only consideration.
Business Name Vs Domain Name
Your domain name might not always be an exact match to your business name. Often your business is up and running before you get to your domain name so it's not always possible at a later date to get the domain name you would like.
My recommendation is to make registering your domain name a priority asap you start your business development. I always try to register both a .com and the .com.au domain if its possible. My main reason for doing this is to have the monopoly over your own business operating name. You don't have to use both domains, but having them both means that you have control over them.
What if you can't get your domain name?
Consider a .net or .net.au extension. While a lot of people consider these extensions to be less that perfect, that's not really true. Having your exact domain name but with a .net or .net.au extension is probably better than something that isn't a direct link to your business name. The work you put into your business, your website and your SEO (paid and organic) will enable you to override the fact that you don't have your exact domain name.
Please take into consideration who actually has those .com and .com.au domain names registered. If they are a very similar business to you and sell similar products, you must take into consideration that you will almost certainly loose a certain amount of business to that company. If I accidentally type in yourbusinessname.com instead of .net and they sell similar products and I'm not familiar enough with your business to know it isn't you, I'm going to purchase from them. I won't know I'm in the wrong place, so you do have to consider that when registering your domain name. It might be worth the cost of an extra business registration and some unique branding to avoid this happening and establishing your own web presence free and clear of direct domain name competitors.
After you register:
Ensure that you make a note somewhere of where (the registrant) and when and for how long you registered your domain name along with the password or login for that account. Tag or label it in your emails or add it to you notes or even something like Google Keep. It's imperative that you have that information readily available so you can use it and have it available for your web developer.
Add the renewal date to your calendar so you can check it whenever you need to
What to watch out for:
There are unscrupulous people who troll domain registrations and then register other extensions and try to sell them to you or worse, send you an invoice for renewal which often people pay not realising its a scam.
You will also get a lot of emails, phone calls and or physical mail trying to sell you website services after you have registered your domain. If you have an option during the registration process to pay an extra fee to make your information private, that is almost always worth doing.
Where to register your domain name
There are many many many domain registrars out there however I use GoDaddy to register all my domain names. I find them to be well priced with lots of options like private registrations and very easy to use.
Can I Register Your Domain For You?
Of course I can.
I'm more than happy to register any domains you would like as it is much easier for me to do it AND I always register the domain in an account that is under your control. I always work with complete transparency and will bill you for the domain cost + a $50.00 fee for me to register it for you. That fee will cover up to 4 domain registrations too - its not per domain. Get in touch if you would like to take advantage of this service.
Small business owner, web developer and programmer.
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