4 Things I've Learned the 4 Years I've Worked for Myself

Well, we made it. Scottie Public Affairs officially turned four on July 6, 2019, marking the longest job I (the owner, Abigail Gardner) have ever had. Glad to know I like myself as a boss.

Reflecting on the past four years I thought there were at least four worthwhile pieces of advice to share about business owner life:

  1. The ability to pick and choose your own clients and projects is actually priceless.

    Besides the (sort of) flexible schedule, picking and choosing my own clients and projects is by far the best part of this job. I’m honestly not sure you can put a price on it because the stress of working with or for people who don’t really value you evaporates. We’re so grateful for our clients because they treat us like real teammates, and sometimes they really become friends. And if I hear from someone from my past who I know is … not great … to work with, I can pass. That is priceless.

  2. Know your value and price accordingly.

    I’ve seen a lot of people hang out their own shingle in the past four years as professional service providers, and it seems like a tricky part of getting started is figuring out what to charge. Be careful and don’t negotiate against yourself by setting your own price too low. If you really have the skills to be on your own, charge accordingly. If you don’t have the skills, keep working for someone else for a few more years!

  3. Get an accountant.

    Honestly, my accountant, Judith, is my MVP. Keeping me legal and saving me a lot of time. If taxes and bookkeeping are not your strong suit, get a professional to help you and fast. Judith started working with me about four months after I opened my doors because four months was all I needed to realize I wanted professional help.

  4. It’s ok to explore other options but don’t let it take you too far off track.

    Late in 2017, I was approached by a head hunter to interview for a big job at a big institution in Pittsburgh. I was interested in the opportunity and the timing to have the conversation seemed right. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for how long those conversations will drag out. I put off hiring when I needed help, I turned down work because I didn’t know if I was closing up shop. In the end, I didn’t get the job and now that big institution is a client, so it all worked out, but I was miserable for months. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t have been so cautious — it cost me (and no one else) to be understaffed and turn away clients. It is ok to explore other options but don’t let the tail wag the dog. If you aren’t driving your business, no one else is!