• Advice

Before you quit your day job, make sure you can deliver

Many of us see entrepreneurship as an opportunity to be autonomous, independent, and to fully use our gifts and talents. It is a cornerstone of the American way and for many, it is an opportunity to fully partake in some version of the American Dream.

With all of its merits and potential for personal and financial growth, there is also a side to entrepreneurship that many of us don’t think about before we begin: Are you prepared to deliver the level of consistency that entrepreneurship and self-employment require?

If there is a hierarchy of things to consider, consistency would be one of the most important prerequisites for success. No matter how skilled you are or how innovative your services or products, you must be consistent with the effort that you put forth and with the quality of your work.

Why Consistency Matters

I once met an aspiring freelancer who was launching her career as a social media strategist. As a strategist, her tasks included creating content, copywriting, and distributing content on social media to generate a buzz and/or to influence sales. She reached out to me because she was ready to take her business to the next level, and she wanted me to introduce her services to some of my clients who had very large social media platforms and followings.

At first, she was sharing content on a daily basis. The content was well written and definitely of a high quality. She then shifted to posting every other day and then to once a week. Over time, her page stopped coming through my newsfeed, so I assumed that it was a new FB algorithm. I went to her business page to check it out.

It was May; her last post was from January. In essence, the page was dormant, so I reached out to her to make sure that she was ok. She informed me that she had become so busy with a PR project for another client that she couldn’t consistently update the page. Ironically, she planned to outsource her page’s maintenance and content development to someone else.

Although it was her right to shift gears, it didn’t bode well for her brand or her reputation as a social media strategist. I wanted to support her and I planned to use her services and recommend her to one of my clients. But I couldn’t take the risk that she would not follow through or that she would manage our pages the way that she had managed her own.

When a freelancer is inconsistent, it can leave potential clients with doubts about whether or not their project will receive the time, attention, and expertise that it deserves. With the aforementioned example, I am just one potential client who she missed out on. I’d assume, in light of her business, there were probably others.

The Long-term Value of Being Consistent

The end goal of having a sustainable and profitable business is doable. The key is treating each project as if it is important, because it is. Whether you have been in business for one month or for twenty years, your level of consistency is a reflection of your craftsmanship and how much you value your clients. It also helps others to build trust and respect for you and for your work.

I can’t speak for all entrepreneurs, but many of the ones that I have worked with or who I have taken on as clients have shared anecdotes about the importance of their clients knowing that the quality and caliber of their work is dependable. If they said that a product would be ready by a certain date, it was. If they advertised a certain caliber of product, they delivered it. Consistency, in turn, keeps clients coming back and leads to word-of-mouth referrals.

Stay your path

For many, entrepreneurship can be a pathway to professional happiness. If you’re seriously considering taking the leap, make sure that you have the time, energy, and stamina to make a consistent effort with your craft. It is tempting to take shortcuts, to cut corners, and to get complacent, but, in the end, all of the marketing in the world is not an antidote to inconsistency.

It may take a few tries before you figure out what works best for you, but when you do, keep doing it. There is an old adage that, “You have to pay the cost to be the boss.” This cost is not just the financial capital that is necessary to run a business but the cost that revolves around giving your best effort every time.

Tyra Seldon Tyra Seldon is a former English Professor turned writer, editor and small business owner. Her writing addresses the intersections of race, gender, culture and education.