Making the Mental Shift From Technician to Entrepreneur

If you’ve launched a freelance writing business, there’s a good chance that you have some degree of confidence in your writing skills.

Otherwise, you would have chosen some other kind of freelance business! (Just think, you could have started a landscaping business! Or opened a child care center!)

But even though you’re a good writer, that doesn’t make you a good entrepreneur. Part of being a good entrepreneur is looking beyond your day-to-day technical work and thinking strategically about your businesses.

And that means doing some thinking about your big WHAT and your big WHY.

Your Big WHAT (i.e. Your Mission)

I’ve never been much of a mission statement guy. But that’s changed over the past few years as I’ve realized that your mission statement is a key component of business success. When done right, it guides everything you do in your business. It gives you the compass, the “true north,” that you need to ensure you’re making good decisions.

Think of your mission as your “Big WHAT.” It’s what you want to accomplish from a big-picture perspective.

It doesn’t address the “why” or the “how” (that comes later). It’s just the “what.”

When I was writing full-time for clients as a freelancer, my mission was very simple:

To become a trusted partner and key member of my clients’ marketing team by delighting them with my work and commitment to their success.

Now that my business has changed, I’ve revised my mission:

To help writers and copywriters earn more in less time doing work they love for better clients. 

That’s what guides my big-picture, strategic decisions today.

Your mission doesn’t have to be tangible and measurable. It’s more of an ideal. A “when in doubt, this is what I ultimately want to accomplish…” thing. But you do want to write it down.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started:

  • How do you want to be perceived by your clients?
  • How do you want to be known or spoken of?
  • What kinds of results do you want to produce for your clients?
  • How will you differ from your competitors?

(By the way, if you’re looking for a few more introspective questions, here’s a great list I recently put together.)

Once you have clarity on most of these key items, you can start drafting your big WHAT.

Your Big WHY

The next thing you need to do as an entrepreneur is get clear about your “Big WHY.”

If you want to succeed in this business, you need a big, personal WHY. It should be something that will get you out of bed every morning and carry you through the tough times.

My WHY is simple; it has two components. The first one is about my family.

I was in corporate sales prior to going solo. I was doing very well, earning a six-figure income, moving up the ladder. But weekly travel was about to become an inevitable reality for me.

Trouble was, I didn’t want to be away from my wife and kids all the time. I wanted to be a great dad and husband. I didn’t want to be a stranger to my family.

Freelance writing would enable me to do both: earn a great income AND be home every day.

I also have a secondary why. It took me a long time to realize it, but I LOVE building things. I love launching and growing businesses that help people because they add tremendous value to their lives in some way.

I’ve always wanted to make my own decisions. Chart my own course. Have a hugely positive impact on others. And live out my own business values—as opposed to the ever-changing “values” of a company with no heart and soul.

I needed a vehicle to enable me to do this well. My writing business (and now my coaching and training business) has been that vehicle.

Here are some questions to explore your WHY:

  • Why do you do what you do?
  • What are the things that truly drive you?
  • What is your purpose? Why do you feel you were put on this earth?
  • If you suddenly inherited $50 million, what kind of work would you do? How would you spend your days? Why would you do that work?
  • Say you’ve had a very, very difficult week in your business. It’s so bad that you’re thinking of giving up your freelance business and getting a day job. What would keep you from quitting?

Once you’ve reflected on these questions, start drafting your big WHY.

When you’ve written down your big WHAT and big WHY, refer back to them periodically. You might want to post them somewhere in your office as a reminder.

Use your big WHAT and big WHY to guide your decision making and give overall direction to your business.

Having these core values in place will help shift your mindset from technician to entrepreneur—and open up new horizons for your business.