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Be Your Own CEO and Other Advice from Freelance Business Expert - Katrina Cobb

There are days where Katrina Cobb probably has more faith in her clients than they do in themselves. Fortunately for them, she won't let that last long as she works closely to help them grow into themselves as business owners and independent professionals. Sometimes she does this with a gentle and guiding hand and other times she'll give you a challenge that forces you out of your comfort zone. Regardless of which method she chooses, you'll end up thanking her for it too.

A freelance business consultant, coach, and an all-around warm and engaging person, Katrina Cobb is also our lead coach. She sat down with us recently to discuss all things freelance and business growth.

NOMAWO: As an independent professional yourself, how did you get started consulting and coaching other independents?

Katrina: What's so interesting about getting into the coaching world is I got my start on the other side. I got my start as a service provider initially in the health and fitness and wellness space. And it was through hiring my first business coach that I actually got to learn, behind the scenes, all the pieces that actually make doing what you're really good at doing easier, sustainable, and a means of supporting yourself.

And so it was very soon after that I had a light bulb moment. Freelancers need to know the behind-the-scenes. They need to know the things that make their business actually sustainable and profitable and successful and more of a joy rather than just a hassle.

She did not intentionally choose coaching as a career path. In fact, she says it chose her as she realized her gift was in communication and connection. Those skills aligned with her affinity for systems thinking and core values of autonomy and freedom. She started traveling, meeting other independents, and would chat about what they do, and inevitably a change came for her business. She decided she wanted to help other independents find their life of freedom. Therein lies the value she provides to her clients and the NOMAWO community.

NOMAWO: You often talk to our community about developing the mindset of a CEO or business owner. Why is this so important?

Katrina: When you're a service provider, whether that's a creative or more of a technical professional service, what you're selling is you and your expertise. And I think because of that, we get very attached to our own value. We get a little bit stuck in how we look at what we do as opposed to the business function of what our service provides.

But the reality is if you only think of it as yourself, you're going to make decisions based on what you personally are valuing about your own presence and based on what you would pay for things versus what other people in the market are paying for things.

And I think it's a myopic view of what's possible for you. When you think about a business, a business doesn't have the same limits as a person. A business also has a different power dynamic than an individual. I think we find ourselves as freelancers and independents in more of a people-pleasing or client pleasing mode because we really want to make people happy.

We want to make sure they like our work because we're very attached to our work. But I think that can also trap us into over-delivery. And when you shift your focus from thinking about yourself and the emotions attached to it, and you are able to think separately about what the business needs today.

Which all makes sense, doesn't it? We think of people and businesses differently. People looking for a service think differently when they hire a brand or a business than they do when they hire an individual. The expectations and the perspective of the work are very different. The more you develop a business and think like a business owner, the more you are seen professionally and are likely to bring you better profitability.

So what advice does she give freelancers and independents trying to develop this mindset? She says it's in the language. The words we use have an immense impact on how we think, operate, and in what we believe. Starting this mindset shift is as simple as asking yourself what your business needs today instead of what you need to do today.

NOMAWO: In line with this mindset shift, if you could give yourself a piece of advice from when you were just taking off as an independent professional, what would it be?

Katrina: The biggest piece of advice I have for somebody starting out, myself or otherwise, would be to act as if you know you can help the person on the other side of the screen or the other side of the phone. Act as if you know you can help somebody. Act as if you know exactly what you need to be able to serve somebody. Act as if you're already enough and act as if you believe that.

You have everything you need to succeed. It doesn't mean you can't grow. That doesn't mean you have to be arrogant. It just means you have to show up in a way that you can tap into that confidence, even if it's fake it till you make it for a little while.

I think that's a huge piece because the biggest thing I see new people do is they're afraid to even show up. They're afraid of all this judgment or they have self-doubt or Imposter Syndrome. And so if they can just start acting as if they're enough, that's a huge piece that's going to translate to earlier success.

So much of success is in the mindset. But if faking it till you make it isn't quite practical enough for you, Katrina's got you covered. When we asked her about what three things she views as most important for freelancers to think about as they begin to scale, she did not disappoint.

  1. Seek out external perspectives. Building your business is really hard to do alone. You end up in a vacuum of your own thoughts. Gaining access to a space where you can find mentors and coaches or even a community of other freelancers will help you sort out your thoughts, give you new perspectives, and resources you didn't even know about.
  2. Give yourself space and time to work on the business. This isn't the same thing as working on something for a client. It's really about taking the space to step back, do a bit of an audit, and apply fresh eyes to everything you're doing. Identify new opportunities, restructure your pricing and packages, re-thinking your services, optimizing the systems you already have, all these things are vital to growing your business. And the only what you get there is by carving out the time for it.
  3. Don't be afraid of change. If you're serious about scaling your business, something is going to have to change. We get very attached and comfortable doing the same thing for the same amount of time for the same price. Being open to new ideas, new ways of operating, making some shifts in your pricing or audience or brand, or onboarding a team might be the next best move for you to scale. Those things will also require some change.

NOMAWO: And lastly, life isn't all work and no play. Or at least it doesn't have to be. What brings you joy outside of your work?

Katrina: I love traveling and exploring new places. So for me, even just the ability to live and be location independent is such a huge piece of the freedom that I'm trying to create for myself in business. And technically, I already had it, which is excellent.

I just love the act of creation. The act of creation brings me joy. And I think beyond that, the food and drink of the culture are huge. For me, exploratory experiences and creative experiences bring me fulfillment outside of work.

Gain your life of freedom. Develop a CEO mindset. Take your business to the next level. Do it all with Katrina's direct guidance and support in one of our SCALE cohorts. Learn more or apply for our next cohort. She's ready to see you scale. Are you?