Aim – more or less – then Fire, and then get Ready.

ready aim fire confusionWhen freelancers are starting out and preparing to launch their new businesses, they generally take forever to get ready.

Me: I thought you were going to start calling some prospects last week.

Them: I know, but I’m not quite ready.

I get the same answer one week later, and then the week after that.

(If you think I’m talking about you in particular as you read this, I’m not. I’m thinking of dozens of freelancers I have spoken with or coached.)

What’s happening here?

Two things, I think.

First, it’s a delaying tactic. You feel nervous about getting out there. A fear of having to do scary things, like calling prospects and hearing them say NO. There is a fear of failure. A fear of being knocked down. A fear of rejection.

Second, it’s a sincere feeling that you are just not ready yet. You need to learn more, research more, broaden your knowledge and deepen it in some key areas.

The first point is understandable. It is natural to feel nervous about exposing yourself to rejection. But that’s something every freelancer has to get past.

The second point is interesting. Many freelancers feel they don’t know enough. But in almost all cases, they do. If you have spent six months studying online copywriting, for example, you probably know more than most of the clients you will ever work with, however experienced they are.

How come? Because while you have studied this one thing for six months, they have a multitude of responsibilities within their companies, and never have the chance to become an expert in any single specialty.

Besides which, you only have to know 10% more than your client. That extra 10% is the value they are paying for.

A big problem for freelancers who feel they are not ready is that they subscribe to the old adage – Ready, Aim, Fire!

“Ready’ comes at the beginning, so these freelancers are frozen in time. They don’t take action, they don’t even aim…because they feel they can’t so anything until they are “ready”.

If you are just starting out and hoping to become a successful freelancer, you have to get past this barrier.

The easiest way to do that is simply to stop worrying about the “ready” part.

As I mentioned, you are probably ready long before you think you are. Or, looking at it another way, you’ll never be ready, because there is always more to learn. Either way, the belief that you need to be ready will freeze you in place.

Let’s forget all about being ready.

Now for the part about “aiming”. That is to say, decide on your goal, figure out the waypoints between where you are and where you need to be to achieve your goal, and then take action.

That’s great advice. I believe we all need goals. They are vital to our success.

However…many freelancers use the process of choosing a goal and mapping the waypoints along the way as another delaying tactic.

“Nick, I can’t launch my business yet, because I still have work to do on my goal and waypoints.”

Well, the thing about goals and waypoints is that they are never more than a best guess. You plan and work to have achieved a certain goal within 3 years. But a lot of things can change within 3 years. You identify key waypoints, but even those can change.

Back when I set my own goals as an online copywriter, I had a 3-year goal and various steps or waypoints I felt I needed to achieve along the way. I achieved my goal in 2 years instead of 3, and pretty much all of my waypoints changed.

How come? Because I saw and took advantage of various unanticipated opportunities along the way. They weren’t part of my plan, but I jumped on them because I could see how they would help me achieve my goal faster.

So…if you are on the runway, and about to push the throttles forward to take off and launch your business, don’t sit there worrying. Just take off. Take action. Get started.

If you make mistakes, you’ll learn from them. If you get rejected, you’ll grow a thicker skin. If you need to change your plans, just do it. If you need to learn something new for a particular project, learn it on the fly.

You’ll always learn faster by DOING.

And you’ll never get anywhere if you keep stressing about being ready and having the perfect plan.

NOTE: My upcoming webinar event on how to LOVE marketing your freelance business also includes elements that will help you get past being “ready” and stressing over your perfect plan.

About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach.

3 thoughts on “Aim – more or less – then Fire, and then get Ready.”

  1. What matters more than doing? Who can prevent mistakes? What do we learn as we move?

    When I act, I make progress. If I make mistakes, I do try again. As I move, I learn how to do what I want to do better.

    Your advice is smart, wise, and encouraging!

    Now, I must follow my own advice.

  2. Hey Nick!

    That is great advice. I picked up my first paying client last week simply by taking action, even though there were a million reasons why I could have sat on the sidelines. Success doesn’t seem to be a spectator’s sport! Thanks for the reminder.



  3. Thanks! Sounds just like me. A million excuses because I have to learn more, need more schooling. I’m not an expert yet. After reading your column, I realize I just have to dive in and get out there, and try to get some clients.


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