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EXECUTION Feeling the Fear and Doing it Anyway: Beginning Entrepreneurship with Web Design

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Goldfels

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I bought @Fox 's Freelancing Course four days ago and I've been trying to take notes and fully get the ideas in the course between school and work. A lot of it has me scared. Scared I will mess up on a sales call and not get the sale. Scared a design for a client will not be good enough. Scared that I don't know enough to fulfill a client's needs and that need to spend more time practicing before I go prospecting or get on a sales call.

I realized this fear is extremely similar to what I've felt back in high school and feel now in college. Fears of failure, inadequacy, and loss.

I don't want to turn this 'Execution' post into a 'Mindset' post so I'll keep it brief: I'll attempt to temper my fears by marking my journey in this Execution post. I'll make an effort to update it weekly on Fridays. I anticipate this thread will illustrate that many of the fears I feel throughout this journey are unfounded, and will also help me glean some insight as to how I can better operate my mind and my business. Who knows, maybe someone here will get a principle or idea from this thread!
 

MJ DeMarco

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No matter if you get a sale or not, conquering the fear and venturing off into the unknown is a WIN. So no matter what happens, be proud of your progress in that department.
 

Stargazer

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Pretend you are a Lawn Care Company and then just make your own website. (Or something else that does not require anything too advanced)

Then phone a Lawn Care Company near you with an oldish looking website and say you are a student who had to make a local business website for a school project but obviously you aren't a Lawn Care Company so can I just give it to you for nothing?

Pretty stress free right? You phoning someone and offering to give them something for nothing no strings attached. And your explanation makes logical sense to them too so no friction there.

It only needs to look something like this which you can see is old but they get plenty of work that they employ 10 people.

Guess you saw it so I have removed it now.

Then phone a Lawn Care Company for real and it wont seem so bad. You have genuinely made a web site for a real business in the same field and they were very happy with the work. No need for you to over explain why that was.

Then work your skillset up as it really doesn't matter what the website looks like unless the business is driving traffic to it.

Dan

PS: By the way that website is nothing to do with me, I will edit the post to remove it sometime tomorrow morning (It is evening here right now) so hopefully you get the gist before.
 
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Goldfels

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Week 1 Summary: Stagnation

This week I did not get much done, maybe 3-4 hours of watching @Fox 's content on YouTube and in the course when I had time. This was due in part to my own procrastination (video games) as well as assignments and jobs that needed to be done and drew time away from progressing in the course.

Next Week's Plan: Systematize my learning
I plan on creating set times for learning and executing the content laid out in the course from now on. This will limit my procrastination and still leave me time to do the assignments and work I need to do to graduate from college this summer.
 

Goldfels

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Week 2 Summary: Some progress, still more to do...

Got Fox's recent Web Dev book (Good book by the way for anyone on the forum. The principles @Fox puts in that book are useful outside of web design). Read through that in two days and have been ruminating on the principles discussed whilst making it through Section 3 of the freelancing course.

Next Week's Plan: With my schedule freeing up next week, I plan on finishing up the whole course if possible. In the interim, I am working through the Codeacademy curriculum for HTML and CSS. I plan on finishing both of those this next week and starting on the recommended Udemy course to flesh out my skills some. If I get through all of this before next Friday, I'll start prospecting some friends so I can do some pro bono web design, so that way I can build my network of potential businesses to sell to, and build my skills along the way.
 

Goldfels

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Week 3 Summary: First Clients! And more insights.

Despite the heavy amount of work that I needed to do for college this week, I made some progress in the freelancing course and Codeacademy courses for HTML and CSS. I also managed to get my first two clients! I asked my roommate if I could make him his own page just to get going in web design. His girlfriend found out and ended up asking me to make a site to increase sales for her Etsy shop that she plans on expanding!

Both are being done for free but I'm glad I have something to cut my teeth on starting next week!

Next Week's Plan: I plan on finishing up the freelancing course this next week since next week I have a lighter expected load of work for college (thank God I'm graduating soon). I'll finish up the last two or three sections of the Codeacademy courses, go through the recommended Udemy course for web design, and get started on those two clients!
 
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Goldfels

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Week 4 Summary: Interference, but with progress nonetheless

This week was tough to get anything outside of school done. Lots of work and lots of screw-up in several projects (some because of my actions, many that were out of my control) caused me to pull time I dedicated to learning from the course into my school work. While I get the feeling that this will continue until I graduate, I don't think I should stop doing the course and resume after graduation. Even progress, however little, is progress.

The "progress" I made this week was digitizing my notes and making more inferences and syntheses on an app called Notion.so (not a plug, just a super cool notetaking app I've found useful for college and beyond). I am not sure if @Fox wants me spilling the beans too much on the course content, but a good synthesis I had in the prospecting section was a fourth reason we can pitch to businesses for a website design project, and that is that we can not only increase sales, sales frequency and new customers, but also allow for new systems to automate or ease the workload for the business (like FAQs, Contact Pages, Downloadable fact sheets, etc.). Basically the systems would eliminate a common pained workload for the business owner, freeing up their time to do more productive things. While this is not directly related to sales, it is indirectly related, as more time spent on the business and less on answering common questions, facts about the business, etc.

Next Week's Plan: I do not think I can finish the course before I graduate, but I will make an effort to continue through the course until I do. This week will be on Section 2 (Sales), as I am going in a logical order from prospecting, to sales, to proposal, to web design. Additionally, if I have time, I am going to talk with my two "clients" about their projects and what content they have/is needed for their websites (pictures, copy, trust-building content, etc.)
 

Goldfels

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Week 5 Summary: Another module completed. Lots learned.

Persistence is key. I took whatever time I could this last week and tried to make it through the prospecting portion of the course, as well as cross-referencing it with other resources and practicing networking. Working on getting into a BNI chapter and Toastmasters chapter for my grad school location (since I'm graduating in two weeks it made no sense to look for chapters in my alma mater's location). Started networking through my LinkedIn for more potential clients (mostly from high school, some from college also look promising).

Next Week's Plan: Continue on with the Sales and Proposals sections of the course (in addition to reading SPIN Selling when possible). Thankfully all of my assignments will be done by Wednesday next week, so I may have some time to dip into the last two sections of the freelancing course.

I'm making progress. I can feel it.
 

BlackSuperman

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Great! Loving the learning.
But what are you doing to get sales? Or at least preparing to get sales? You can spend some time finding potential clients, maybe if you’re not ready to call you’re not ready. But if you end up collecting the leads info now, then when you’re done learning, you can hop into a call almost immediately.

Everyday you’re not reaching out to prospects, is another day they miss the chance to attract a bunch of customers. You want your clients to have food on the table right?

Get to it!
 
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Goldfels

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Great? Loving the learning.
But what are you doing to get sales? Or at least preparing to get sales? You can spend some time finding potential clients, maybe if you’re not ready to call you’re not ready. But if you end up collecting the leads info now, then when you’re done learning, you can hop into a call almost immediately.

Everyday you’re not reaching out to prospects, is another day they miss the chance to attract a bunch of customers. You want your clients to have food on the table right?

Get to it!
Gotcha. Thanks for the support. I guess for me I'm still in the prospecting stage. I have four clients (friends and family) that I am able to do some (mostly free) work for after graduation, and they are understanding that I'm only going to be able to work on these projects full time after graduation. The time I am spending up until then is honing my knowledge of the whole web design process: Sales, prospecting, proposals, and yes, web design. I am doing this with books, exercises, the coursework and working on the 4 client projects when I have time. When I have free time not related to the course or college (which is rare), I am looking for more clients that I think would be a good fit despite my lack of proven results thus far in my freelancing career.

I know I'm going at a slow pace on the right track in terms of projects, but that pace will pick up significantly after graduation, especially since I've got 4 clients I can get to work for straight away.
 

Goldfels

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Week 6 Summary: Two more to go; Applications of sales.

Got through the sales section of the course and almost finished with SPIN Selling (maybe a day left). I was surprised how much I was learning in both the course and the book can be applied outside of a corporate or business setting. I "sold" a topic change for one of my course papers by using the principles in SPIN Selling and the course. I "sold" the idea of a friend and I changing a portion of our senior design documentation using these principles. Granted these aren't really "sales" in the traditional sense since there is not a monetary transaction. Sales really is a powerful skill everyone should learn!

Next Week's Plan: Finish SPIN Selling, start proposal section. I will not make much progress this next week as this is finals and graduation week (lots of studying, moving out, ceremonies, celebrations, etc.). After this, I can expect higher qualitative and quantitative results to put on these weekly posts, as well as some non-weekly posts as well.
 

Goldfels

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Week 7 Summary: Finals and Graduation
As expected, I have had little time for progress this week outside of nighttime reading and markings of SPIN Selling, but THANK GOD I'm graduating tomorrow.

Next Week's Plan: Everything. Finish the course. Finish SPIN Selling. Start 2/4 free client websites. Prospect 9 potential clients. Maybe if things work out I get a sale from a prospective client.
 

Goldfels

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Monday Update: It begins! Rubber meets the road!

I'm finally graduated and almost moved out of my apartment (got a few things left to do tomorrow). Now it's time for the wheels to spin and get up to speed. I didn't mention my reasoning for doing freelance web design, so I'll state now that the reason is two-fold. First is the main reason for Fox's course, and that is to gain business skills so that when I start an actual business (not just freelance) I can have a higher chance of success. Second is to make $75K post-tax by the end of this year. Ambitious I know, but I have this specific milestone for a few reasons. First is to fully pay off graduate school (1-year program). Second is to max out my IRA for the year (always have a failsafe if businesses never work out). Third is to use whatever money isn't allocated to create a soft emergency fund of at least $10K. Anything over this amount that I continue to make will go right back into my freelancing or be saved up to help with the launch of my first business.

Now on to the actual action of the week:

Client 1 (roommate's girlfriend) agreed to do a sales call just so I get some practice in sales, proposals and contract writing. She's not paying me anything but the experience and the results she'll get from the website will be payment enough.

Client 2 (previous roommate) has not responded to any of my calls regarding his website, so I'm probably scratching him off the list (called the dude like 5 times with voicemails still no response). First lesson in freelancing I've gotten is to pick good clients.

Sending off a proposal for Client 3 tonight. Its a local restaurant with a horribly dated website from like, 2004. Was friends with the chef's kid in school so that might help a little. Again, not expecting payment, only work for results that I can show to future clients.

Will finish drafting proposal for Client 4 tomorrow.

Prospecting for future clients will come later tonight and Thursday/Friday since I finish moving out tomorrow and Wednesday is full with interviews and freelancing work that is already scheduled.

The only thing that is really hanging over my head is how to work out taxes with my clients (1099-MISC and all that). I want to get that nailed down before I start making actual income so that big-daddy-tax-man doesn't bend my wallet over if I miss something. (Side note: screw self-employment taxes)
 
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Goldfels

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Week 8 Summary: Onwards and... Sideways?

Had some up this week. Finished SPIN Selling and got started with more coding resources to build more types of websites (Currently on JS course from freecodecamp for reactive website content). Got a promising response from the restaurant client's proposal, but nothing yet in terms of a sales call. Still waiting for a response from client 4 (local injury lawyer) as it was sent yesterday.

There were also some downs this week. Didn't get through the rest of the course like I said as I got sidetracked with the JS course. My first client pushed off her "sales call" until the 21st, so I have only a general idea as to what she wants for her website. I'm also getting nagged by my mom to "get a real job" that would achieve my goals. Only problem with that is with the typical pay rate ($8-$8.5) of jobs in town, I would need to work 18-hour days for 75 weeks to reach my goal in this town, and that's before taxes! I don't quite know how to get her on my side about this whole web design freelancing, because otherwise living with her for another three months is going to be grating.

And then just sideways stuff too. Networked with some colleagues on LinkedIn (while its cringey, is C0VlD still around so I can't exactly do a meet and greet with other entrepreneurs in my town with good specificity). Started building another example website, this one is for my first client. Also had grandma visit for graduation so I spent time with her too (I enjoyed her visit, but it was sideways in terms of this progress thread.)

Next Week's Goals: Actually finish the Fox course. This is slowing me down since I don't have nearly enough info to get where I should be. Plus I paid for it and want to get my money's worth out of it (So far it has been, I've been the only obstacle). Find a well paying job to placate both my mother's nagging and my liquidity problems. Find 5 more clients and send them proposals. Network with 5 more individuals in my town. Work out 5 times this week. Finish the Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson.

Systems in place:
  1. Only start a course of new information when you have no other courses
  2. If it is an activity you can repeat, do it 5 times.
  3. Read one book a week.
 
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Goldfels

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Week 9 Summary: Another Zero Sum Week (But it's looking up)

Didn't have a lot of time this week to complete the course (8 weeks in and you still haven't finished it? Come on man!) I know I said I'd get it done last week but life just keeps getting in the way! My mom said if she saw me "working on this web crap without a traditional summer job under my belt" that I'd get booted from the house. So I pounded the pavement this week and managed to get pretty far in an application for a job that is roughly double the normal rate of jobs in this town ($15/hr instead of $8.50/hr). Still shit in that I'm trading time for a low pay rate but if it keeps a roof over my head I'll do it.

"Client" with the Etsy store pushed off our sales call again as I am writing this (kill me).
Got a response back from the restaurant saying they would like to go over their finances before they commit to a web design project (I said it would be free, looks like don't have a need for it, ugh).
Still waiting for a response from local injury lawyer (it's been almost 2 weeks).

Networked with 5 people this week. None of them had a need or a budget for a web design project. Cool people still.

Got halfway through The Code Breaker. Big book though, might be another week or two depending on how hard I'm going at the work to finish that book. Jennifer Doudna is really cool.

Next Week's Goals: Network with 5 more people either here, on Trends.co or on LinkedIn. Exercise 5 times this week. Institute a calendar and planner system that will get me to actually finish the Fox course and get all the info down to where I can share my insights (Is that okay with you @Fox ?). Then just start whipping through the web design courses I've enrolled in.

Systems in place:
  1. Only start a course of new information when you have no other courses
  2. If it is an activity you can repeat, do it 5 times.
  3. Read one book a week.
  4. Exercise 5 times a week
  5. Set a planner and calendar where it is visible so I stay on track for God's sake
 

strobe

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Its tough and it takes a certain type of person to be or want to continuously ask people to do something for them (free or paid).

I feel that the only people who succeed doing something like this are people who don't mind hassling strangers all day every day. Calling, emailing all day long being rejected and continue to do it day in day out. I would find that a horrible and painful existence.

The problem isn't necessarily that you wouldn't be able to make them a good website its that there is so much competition out there trying to do the same thing. There are easy ways for the business owner to make it themselves - Wix it could be up in a day with zero experience.

It used to be a complicated thing 10 years + ago to create a website for someone in your local area that it made sense to hire and pay good money for it. Everyone caught on and now its not that you are any different its that most businesses get called and emailed every single day from people offering the exact same thing.

I remember even in 2014 I had a small construction businesses and half of my calls were not people wanting work but people (mainly from India) calling me trying to give me web design or SEO services it was beyond belief.

Not trying to rain on your parade but that is the state of most of these types of services.

If you love picking up the phone, emailing and getting rejected all day long in the hopes that 1 in a few hundred accept then thats fine but that is what it is. It isn't due to your lack of skill or anything its due to competition being insane.
 

Goldfels

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Its tough and it takes a certain type of person to be or want to continuously ask people to do something for them (free or paid).

...

If you love picking up the phone, emailing and getting rejected all day long in the hopes that 1 in a few hundred accept then thats fine but that is what it is. It isn't due to your lack of skill or anything its due to competition being insane.
I can deal with it. And competition can be maneuvered around with a good value skew and high revenue customers. You combat competition with value differentiation showing you have a drastically better service to offer than the "guys from India" in your example.

I will admit it's a grind, but the money this freelance promises will help me be debt free after I finish grad school, so I will keep going no matter what (just have to maneuver my mother first : P)
 
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Goldfels

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Week 10 Summary: Work
Started that summer job that pays well (16/hr). That will keep my mother off my back. Hard work and long hours left me sore and tired the first few days. Was able to finish the all but one module (advanced sales) for the course, so I think I'm ready. Will start FreeCodeCamp this week and continue prospecting. Nothing turned up this week, but I do know several individuals I can talk with next week that seem promising.

Next Week's Goals: Just keep working, prospecting and building websites. Might finally finish The Code Breaker this week.
 

Goldfels

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No more weekly updates. I'm not progressing as much thanks to the stupid job and my poor scheduling, so there's no point in providing for quantity over quality. I will still post, just only for important stuff (first paying client, new revelations, etc.)
 

kb9nate

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No more weekly updates. I'm not progressing as much thanks to the stupid job and my poor scheduling, so there's no point in providing for quantity over quality. I will still post, just only for important stuff (first paying client, new revelations, etc.)
Hey how's your progress coming along? Have you gotten a paying client yet? How is prospecting going?
 

Goldfels

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Hey how's your progress coming along? Have you gotten a paying client yet? How is prospecting going?
I partially forgot about this whole forum because of several life events, work and eventually grad school.

I did 5 cold emails/calls roughly a day to local/state businesses that could need a website from about the end of June to mid-August as my job permitted. It may have been my sleep deprivation from the job, my lack of experience doing cold calls/emails, or just the economic situation in my local area, but there were no leads. The "clients" either declined, did not answer, or seemed like not good clients after the sales calls. Thankfully I should have more time in grad school to pursue either this web design business or another business I have in mind that would work well for my low budget. I'll keep you posted :)
 

RicardoGrande

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I'm not progressing as much thanks to the stupid job and my poor scheduling, so there's no point in providing for quantity over quality.

Lol I know this feeling well.
Try to work in the morning just for the shift to hit, then you get off the 8-9 hour shift feeling like hell and you're just running on fumes.

You mentioned that despite your 5 contacts a day, you weren't really getting much positive feedback, is that still the case?
 

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