Small ideas (and the dill problem)
I’ve been in a mad dash the past couple of months.
But, see (I tell myself), mad dashes and side projects have a way about them. They can suck you in, take you over, dominate, and eventually (if you’re not careful) suffocate all the other parts of your life that you wanted to have their own space and place. Like dill. (Dill is great, but they don’t call it dill weed for nothing.) We need dill, sure (if we want pickles and all), but the thing just gets downright ugly if left to its own devices.
Yesterday, I came face to face with the dill weed problem. A problem I was familiar with from years past, one that I actually (ultimately) dropped, aborted, abandoned when it (and other heavy things) got to be too much. This time, I couldn’t ignore the dill.
The freelancer/solopreneur dilemma
So, yesterday I was going about the business of lead generation and networking, connecting with long-lost business associates, as well as new folks whose work I was only just discovering, when I started feeling that familiar sense of dread and overwhelm. Here’s the dilemma of freelancers and solopreneurs:
You want to grow your business, so you begin the efforts of marketing and promoting and getting the word out about it.
Then maybe you get some work. Or meet a few prospects and start conversing. Or become involved in different collaborations with business associates.
And then … you run out of resources.
Maintaining the current mini influx of people and projects dominates your time, the days get shorter (or so it seems), and eventually, the projects you do have wrap, and then … silence. You start running low on money—but at least now you have more time … to market and promote and get the word out about your business. So you start the whole process again.
Feast. Famine. Feast. Famine. Until eventually …
I did not want to get back on that hamster wheel. In fact (and I’ve known this for a while now—years now), I didn’t want to do things the way I did them years ago. At least not in the way of workaholism. And things never being enough. And being reactive in my business. And taking whatever I could get. And feeling trapped. And overworked. And overwhelmed.
This time, I wanted to know where “enough” was and be militant about holding that line.
Thankfully, I came across a few other freelancers, business owners, and solopreneurs who feel exactly the same way (see one case here). It’s reassuring.
No, this time I don’t aspire to be Donald Trump (I did when I was 23)—or any other “mogul” or “empire-builder.” I don’t even want an “empire” (and I did once, even bought the course). No, this time I want to stay deliberately small, and if the projects I build want to go larger, they’ll have to do so without me. Not interested.
There was a time in my life when I wanted that, to build something that would “scale.” I know now that I already have, but I keep choosing not to pursue it, because deep down I know it’s not what I want. I’m okay with small ideas. And small houses. And small gardens (with a small, contained plot of dill).