Recently I read on one of my favorite blogs, Gotham Gal, that in 5 years, 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers. I’m sure the statistic will be similar in Canada. Which alone is scary for those who are going to be learning the financial ropes of freelancing, but you also lose more than a guaranteed paycheck when you leave the structure of a formal workplace- you lose the people. At a job, you’re going to be seeing people day in and day out, whereas as a freelancer, you have to make that happen consciously. I lost contact with my work friends when I quit my job working for the government in 2011. It takes effort to stay in touch, and I was so focussed on building my business that I didn't make time for it. I also lacked the self-worth to say, "hey, I'm building a great business, come hang out with me now that I've checked off my 20-item to-do list for today." I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere, so I felt unworthy of hang-out time to begin with. Now I'm doing it again, but a little differently this time.
When you’re self-employed, you can also get isolated intellectually. That's the great thing about having a life partner who shares the same mental terrain as you- you can bounce ideas off each other every day, but it's something to be conscious about in business partnerships too. I would go so far as to say very picky. You have to always try and work with the best in your field, and if you can't, to read the blogs of the best people in the field, interact with them in their comments, to listen to their podcasts, read their books. You just want their brain waves in your own head.
I feel like I have two fields for some reason. A lot of my heroes are in the tech/entrepreneur/investor space- I love Joanne Wilson, Jason Calacanis, Brad Feld, and increasingly Fred Wilson. I just like knowing what's coming down the pipes technologically, plus, they're all really smart, and I love that. There are smart Canadian entrepreneurs too, like Brett Wilson and Arlene Dickinson. But then my other field- the one I'm passionate about working in is the Enneagram and personal development space, and as I've written, I have a lot of heroes in that space too, namely Russ Hudson and Sandra Maitri. It takes a lot of time to stay in both spaces, but I'm addicted to both so it's not work, and I love the intelligence and wisdom I find in both of them.
I think if you're starting your business with nothing, you read everything you can by them and about them to get their way of thinking in your head, and write about it. Then, when you have processed a lot of what these talented people have already said, you will probably start to attract you who want to work with so you can have great conversations about innovation and what's happening "on the edge" every single day.