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How do you overcome the fear of moving from being a freelancer to a business owner?

It was a massive mindset shift for me to go from being Ruth Gilbey the freelancer and contractor to Ruth Gilbey Marketing and Coaching the business. So while it's fresh in my mind, and I'm still feeling all those bumps and all that impostor syndrome, I wanted to share my journey with you. 

A healthy mindset (that you continue to work on), is the essential thing you need to make a move from a freelancer to a business owner. I realised this was the critical component that I needed to continue to work on to keep building my business. For me being a freelancer and working for other people was the much "safer" option, but I wasn't learning or reaching my potential by staying as the contractor or employee.

"The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it's not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives." 

Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success

I think I'm a pretty confident person, bossy at times, who likes to advise her clients on what to do. I realise now I was advising them on business, marketing and strategies that I hadn't done myself. I'm not downplaying my experience here. But the experience I had was of other people's businesses not my own. It's very different when the company is yours. 

Suddenly the buck starts and ends with me. I can't blame anyone else if things go wrong. 

I've started to realise as hard as this is, and I'm admitting it's hard, I will learn loads, and it will help me help others with their journey.

I used to say to my clients "to raise your profile; you could speak at events, create videos, blog posts, create a podcast, etc.." 

I'd advise clients going from 1-2-1 to 1 to many on the different ways they could scale their business, "why not create an online course so you can reach a bigger audience?", "why not create a membership?".   

It felt so natural to advise these things. But there wasn't the empathy behind my advice because I hadn't done it myself. 

One of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome was investing money in my business. I came to the realisation that I have to outsource and invest in growing my business. 

The other hurdle was making myself the crucial part of my marketing, does this resonate at all? I'm now the product! I can't hide behind another person's business. I have to allow my audience to get to know, like and trust me more; it's an essential part of my marketing strategy. 

Addressing your fears over building your own business 

I have a massive fear of public speaking. However, I've also challenged myself to gain more experience and confidence in this, because I know it would be good for my business and also because I've realised I have an awful lot I want to share!

 What I've done so far to overcome this fear: 

  • Spoken to a board of 20 people multiple times.
  • Built-up slowly to speaking to larger groups of people.
  • I've spoken in public to 150 people.
  • Started doing regular videos, IGTV and Facebook Lives. I know that video is going to improve my reach and raise my profile, but I do still get nervous.
  • In the last month, I have held five webinars, 3 of which were live. I know why it's so important, I've sold for other businesses with a tremendous amount of confidence, but this was different. I felt I was putting myself out there, selling me. And it was bloody scary.

 I've read the books, I've had the coaching, but this process of playing bigger in my business is scary. I have to remind myself what the alternative was. I was bored, stuck and unmotivated. I'd also hit capacity as my hours were all booked up. I didn't feel like I was learning anything new; now I'm learning something new every day!  

We all have lots of fears when it comes to changing or growing our businesses. Fear of messing up? Fear of not selling? Fear of not being liked? Fear of looking like an idiot? Fear of success? 

Yup all of those for me. 

For me to do this, I need to share my journey; I can't turn up as the polished "finished" article. That's not me, and I don't think that's going to help my audience either.   

I've made massive changes in my business this year. I've gone from delivering digital marketing to running a small agency, offering 1-2-1 digital marketing consulting, coaching, and now I've launched my new digital success training programme. In 2015 I was charging £10/hour as a freelancer, I am currently charging £125/hour for consultancy work and will be increasing those rates in January. I've also created my first online course and coaching programme. 

So hang in there, you can do this! It may feel overwhelming, but that's also exciting. Growing your business will challenge you to grow as well, and fulfil your potential.   

My advice is don't do it alone, get support, outsource, and don't worry if you don't always get it right, that's how you learn.


I'm a marketing coach and mentor; my passion is to help you grow in confidence in digital marketing to get more visible and increase your sales. Book a free call or join my Facebook group to find out more about how I can help you.