On Getting Shit Done, Banana Hammocks and Other Business Advice

banana hammock business adviceYou hear people say “my plate is full” all the time and right now, you’re glancing down at yours, pretty embarrassed at the sight. “Full” doesn’t begin to cover it. It looks more like Gluttony got a five-day pass to Country Buffet and it all happened to land on YOUR plate, RIGHT NOW. You’ve ignored those take all your want but eat all you take signs and the ass of your business is screaming for you to go do some cardio or something because it’s pushing max density. You can’t possibly eat another bite but you cram in the fried okra aka 45th project anywhoo and you end up laying bed, exhausted, wishing business bulimia were a viable option.

Maybe you know the feeling. Or perhaps it’s just me.

I’m an admitted workaholic, recovering helium hand and professed potty mouth. I own all three like brilliant footwear or a slinky, strapless chartreuse cocktail dress. Your choice. And on a completely unrelated note, Ash Ambirge just sent me an email that’s forever plastered banana hammocks into my brain. THANK YOU.

Yeah – so, scatterbrained yet focused, those are my days. And so we come to a conversation on getting shit done and other things that I feel bear convershizzle. (Note: that might be my made-up word of the month, and you were here for it. Bravo.)

My first thoughts are on building your business. Diana Adams of BitRebels shared this infographic yesterday that put out some astounding numbers. 40% of “freelancers” report they have trouble getting paid. Another 48% report that the pay is lower than they expected. As someone who required a bitch slap from none other than Shelly Kramer to get my pricing model in line with my skills, experience and track record, I get this and have some rather biased thoughts on it.

  • On getting paid: If you’re having trouble getting paid, it’s a client selection problem. You also probably have a shitty work agreement/contract. Fix that shit.
    • Start requiring a commencement deposit. Client won’t pay? Fuck ’em. Move on.
    • Get a contract for all that is holy. If you missed Mike Monteiro’s Fuck You, Pay Me – watch it now.
    • Still having trouble getting paid? It’s a YOU problem. Learn to invoice, get someone to invoice for you and stop feeling bad about asking to be paid for the work you’ve performed.
  • On how much you’re getting paid: If you didn’t do yourself the favor of performing due diligence prior to launching your “freelance” business, it’s quite possible you’re working for third world wages. How do you fix it?
    • If you say that your local market will only bear a certain price threshold, stop limiting yourself to your present geography. Expand. Build your footprint. Find a new fucking market.
    • If going rates in your area don’t permit you to live above poverty level as a freelancer, maybe you’re better off going back to the corporate gig with all those fancy things like health insurance, withheld taxes and retirement plans.
    • Maybe your problem is that you’re calling yourself a freelancer. I hate that word more than I hate the person standing in line in front of me in the grocery who wants to write a check with nine people stacked up behind her. Who writes checks anymore? Anywhoo, you should be running a business and treat yourself like you run a business. Mental acuity prepares you for having better business acumen. Look – two A-words and neither were naughty!
    • CHARGE MORE. If you’re worth it. If you’re not, figure out how to MAKE yourself worth more.

And with that business out of the way, we come to getting shit done. I have two book projects in progress with rapidly approaching deadlines along with multiple client projects and the need to live life away from my MacBook on occasion. SO how do we go about getting shit done? We just do it. No one’s going to do it for us and procrastination is crap. Cowboy-up and step to the plate. My means for achievement? Lists. I make a list and don’t go to bed until I’ve knocked it out. Late nights? Yes. Satisfaction? Yes. Panic-free sleep? Awwwyeah. Time to screw around on Facebook in the morning since I’m not bogged down with shit I didn’t get done the night before? W00t.

So we treat our businesses with respect. We get it done. We dream of banana hammocks (we just do – stop asking questions). Go forth and stop writing checks your ass can’t cash, especially in the grocery store when there are nine people behind you. And feel free to tell me I’m an asshole for my biased views on “freelancing” (kill me now) and straight talk about owning your business practices. If it ain’t a client problem, it’s a you problem. And if it’s not a client OR a you problem, it’s a perception of reality problem. And that STILL makes it…you guessed it…

a YOU problem.

29 comments
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

Thank You So Much for turning me onto "Fuck you. Pay me!" I was trying to think of what movie that line was from and I think it's "Casino" with Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci.   One of my mentors, Dan Kennedy is a big proponent of "Fuck You. Pay me."  He did an absolutely kick ass 2 day "Business of Copywriting" seminar for the folks over at AWAI. No freelancer should be without the DVD's/audios of  it along with the 400 + pages of manuals and agreement documents and other stuff piled into the package I believe you can buy from AWAI. Especially if you dig a renegade approach to getting paid what you're worth and hitting delete on all the bullshit beliefs that block you from being fulfilled in your career. BEST CONSULTING COURSE I'VE EVER SEEN!   And I've seen a shit-ton of them. Here's a slice of the notes I took on the "Compensation" part of the course... "Money can represent respect, status, influence, power, and value but it doesn’t automatically show up in your bank account because of your excellence in core competencies, your amazing service, smoldering passion and desire, nor are you entitled to anything at any time, for any reason.   Money flows to you in direct proportion to your preparedness, skill, value provided to clients AND your ability to position and present yourself and that value in it’s brightest, most persuasive light AND your ability to effectively manage the relationship you have with your clients. And all of this is governed by your beliefs and personal behaviors in regard to being compensated." I love this guy and I think you might too Erika. Check him out if you already haven't. :)

J.D. Meier
J.D. Meier

> Expand. Build your footprint I love the power of global reach, and the ability to deliver value around the world. I'm also a fan of "expand yourself" to follow the growth, and stay useful and relevant in the market.

Morgan Barnhart
Morgan Barnhart

So glad I read your comment and discovered that video. Fucking brilliant!

Morgan Barnhart
Morgan Barnhart

"Find a new fucking market." <---I just like that you put the F word up in there all nice like.  I'm like you, focused, but scatterbrained. I'll spend all day on my computer and then all of a sudden I'll look at my to-do list and I'll see that..nothing...was...done. FUCK! Well at this point I growl at myself and then proceed to kick some major butt in the last hour I have before the boy comes home and we gotta make some dinner and my night is shot because, obviously, we want to spend some time together. I want to blame him for distracting my previous evening time, but mother of mercy, I had ALL day to do shit and I didn't.  Anyway, my point is, I really need to get more shit done. Thanks for the inspirational banana hammock photo!

ShapedRed
ShapedRed

Yes! yes! YES! Ah... I feel better now. Thanks for the encouragement, and the banana.

Steve Rice
Steve Rice

Erika, I love your advice about getting paid.  As creative business owners sometimes, it's difficult to realize that the talents and gifts (which come naturally to us) don't come naturally to others...therefore the service we provide is worth something!! I have seen so many entrepreneurs give away their services for no reason.  I guess they think this will help people recognize the value of the service.  Sadly, it generally just attracts cheap-skates and moochers.   You are right that it is overcoming the "you" problem that leads to greater profitability.  Once I recognize and respect the worth of my work, then others will too!  Thanks for making me think...even if I did have to suffer through banana hammock visuals! :P

Justin Matthews
Justin Matthews

Erika, do you ever get tired of being right?  I have nothing else to say because you are right on with this one.  And now I can't get that damn banana hammock out of *my* head.  Thanks a lot.

Sylvia
Sylvia

As always, interesting read. I also am self-employed, working for the masses, and while I do work quite different from yours, I find I had/have some of the same problems. Some of my clients take forever to pick up their completed work, and I have to call them, with each call getting a tad more nasty. My solution? The next time they come in (that is if they do) I make them pay in advance. And I've learned to draw up contracts, complete with a hefty deposit, for all the major projects. As for my pricing, I am one of the pricier seamstresses/tailors in town, and am getting ready to raise my fees again, because I have more work than I know what to do with. I've also started to turn away what I call "bullshit work". All in all, thanks for this post. It affirms that I'm on the right track with what I do. 

David Young
David Young

Wait...did you really say "screw around on Facebook"? Damn...I get shit in my email and get all hyped, then I find I'm still missing out on some (insert overused adjective here). Anyway, what you say is true, and I've actually lost a few contracts...but you know what. Don't want to pay my rates. Hire a ****ing intern. Then, when he royally screws things up (as all interns that lack real world experience tend to do), I'll charge the 20% cheap-ass up-charge fee. (Since your post was clean...I self-edited the f-bomb.) As for the "Me" problems...yeah, I've got lots of those, and every time I try to sit down and work on those, I manage to misplace myself -- and since I cannot stand looking for something I know I'm not gonna find, I just move on to other important things... I think John Stewart is new tonight, right?

Marian Schembari
Marian Schembari

I was totally procrastinating while reading this... Going, going, gone...

Tim Weaver
Tim Weaver

Mike Monteiro’s Fuck You, Pay Me is probably one of the funniest, yet most useful, pieces of business video I have seen in a LONG time.  Thank you for reminding me to watch it again.  And bookmark it.      

Stephanie - Home with the Kids
Stephanie - Home with the Kids

I like it. I only do a bit of freelancing, but it always pays to remember that when a problem keeps coming up, it's probably something you're doing wrong. Figure it out and the problem goes away, or at least shrinks to a more manageable level.

Annie Sisk
Annie Sisk

I really don't know whether to thank you for the awesome advice or sue you for that picture which is now permanently burned into MY brain. OK, that said, one of my coaching clients has wrestled with getting paid for a year now. She's got more work than she can handle but her AP is some ungodly shit like 40%. The first thing I asked her was "What does your contract say about payment?" Her response: "What contract?" Ready for the kicker? She's a lawyer. And all her clients? ALSO LAWYERS. ::::banging head on desk::::

D.T. Pennington
D.T. Pennington

On getting paid: I'll gladly visit the non-paying client and get the money for you, even if I have to shake 'em. For a fee, of course. 

Sheree
Sheree

I'm sorry, what did you say?  I was too captivated by the banana hammock photo.  :)

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