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Identify your values

By the end of this playbook, you’ll have a complete business plan so you’re earning what you’re worth, you’re doing work you love, and everything you do is aligned toward the life you want to live.

Use the business plan template as you go through this playbook. In it you’ll outline:

  • Your target audience.

  • A list of your services and the prices you should charge.

  • Your marketing and acquisition plan.

  • Goals and the milestones, and timelines to achieve those goals.

And if you want a sneak preview, here’s a sample business plan that’s been filled in already.

Write down your values

Defining your values means understanding what you want and how you want to spend your time. Remember, you have the power to control this now. 

Identify your top values — just three to five you want to prioritize. Write them down and add a few sentences about each. These values can be anything that’s important to you. For instance, maybe one of your values is a specific type of work you love, like how I love fact-checking. Maybe you value a particular kind of partnership that you want to see. Perhaps, you want to hone a specific skill.

Value 1: Freedom of time. I value this because I want to work the hours that are best for my brain and body and not 9-5.

Value 2: ______________. I value this because ______________________________.

Value 3: ______________. I value this because ______________________________.

Value 4: ______________. I value this because ______________________________.

Value 5: ______________. I value this because ______________________________.

To brainstorm, take a moment, and consider the following questions:

What style of work do you enjoy? 

  • Chances to learn something new.

  • Lots of supervision.

  • A hands-off approach.

Why did you become a freelancer?

  • Make more money.

  • Own your own business.

  • Spend time more flexibly.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years?

  • Start a family.

  • Buy a house.

  • Earn six figures annually.

  • Only work 20 hours a week.

A few other considerations:

  • Would you prefer to solely work on passion projects?

  • Do you want to make a lot of money?

  • What does your ideal level of human interaction look like — whether it be with your clients or your colleagues?

Knowing your values helps you set goals so you understand the driving force behind the decisions you make.

Example: You value travel and free time. That sets your goal of working enough billable hours during the winter months to take time off during the summer, stress-free from finances. 

Freelancers tend to build their business by saying yes to whatever comes along. Six months down the line, you may find yourself trapped, doing drudge work that you resent, or struggling to pay your bills. I’m speaking from personal experience here, as well as what I’ve heard from countless other freelancers. It’s an easy mistake to make.

This is going to be the first half of your Values and Goals in your business plan. Once you’ve got your values written down, use those to fill that step in:

To achieve my value of flexibility of time, I plan to [goal]. (You’ll get to the goal in Step 2.)

Examples of values

If you’re having a hard time thinking of values, here are a few examples. But remember, if there’s something else that doesn’t show up on this list, feel free to include it.

  • Achievement: Doing work that yields results. 

  • Independence: Working and making decisions on your own. 

  • Recognition: Receiving attention for your work.

  • Collaboration: Working alongside other people.

  • Autonomy: Receiving little or no supervision.

  • Stability: Embracing recurring projects that come at expected intervals.

  • Service: Providing assistance to individuals or groups; making a difference.

  • Prestige: Having high standing in the world; visible success.

  • Compensation: Receiving adequate pay.

  • Leadership: Supervising and managing others, or taking charge of groups.

  • Creativity: Capitalizing on your ideas.

  • Variety: Doing different activities every day.

  • Freedom of time: Embracing a non-traditional schedule that’s within your control.

  • Routine: Performing the same tasks every day.

  • Challenge: Performing tasks that are difficult or new to you.

  • Leisure: Having adequate time away from work; a spirit of adventure.

  • Artistic Expression: Expressing one's artistic talents through work projects.

  • Influence: Having the ability to affect people's opinions and ideas.

  • Curiosity: Embracing ongoing learning.

  • Security: Setting aside savings and financially planning for the future.

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