The Stuff Between Your Ears

brainBefore I get to part two of my mini-series “Mind Your Own Business,” I want to give a shout-out to all my Faffcon friends.

They really embraced the main message of last week’s blog post, which was all about health. Inspired by my words on weight loss, some Faffers began challenging each other. A number of them have vowed to lose thirty pounds by Faffcon 7, which starts on September 18th. That’s tremendous!

Incidentally, this voice-over unconference will be held in Tuscon, AZ, and it’s sold out. I’m pretty sure that the risks of a sedentary lifestyle and ways to deal with that, will be the topic of at least one breakout session.


Last week I mentioned four aspects that play a vital part in the way we live our lives, and the way we run our business. These aspects are Physical, Mental, Material and Spiritual.

Today I’d like to talk about what goes on between our ears. You can be in great physical health, and have extraordinary talent, but fail as a freelancer. I think it takes a special type of personality to run your own business. The best equipment is of no use if you don’t have the right mindset.

Allow me to share a number of attributes that I believe to be the trademark of any successful solopreneur. If you want to make it on your own, you have to be…


I don’t necessarily mean “artistic” when I say “creative.” I’m thinking more in terms of the ability to create opportunities. Being your own boss means coming up with a concept for your business, and turning that idea into reality. No one will tell you what to do or how to do it. As the Chief Creative Officer, you have to take responsibility for every part of the process. It’s a daunting, never-ending task, and the outcome is by no means guaranteed. That’s why successful solopreneurs have to be…


Go to any bank for a loan, tell them you’re self-employed and wait for the reaction. I bet you’ll see some raised eyebrows. Freelancers are considered to be unstable which is often mistaken for being unreliable. If you don’t have a hopeful and positive outlook, you’re going to have a tough time dealing with rejection and uncertainty. Without optimism, it’s easy to give in to recession depression, and eventually hang up your hat. You’ve got to believe that your business has a future, and that clients will come. Even if other people don’t see potential, you have to have vision. You also have to be…


A business is like a flower bed. If you don’t give it the proper care and attention, it has no potential for growth. You cannot approach it as a hobby because it will bankrupt you. You’ve got to be “All in, all the time.” People who are transitioning from a corporate nine-to-five job are often not ready for that. Because a business can easily eat up all your time, it’s important that you nurture yourself too. You are the goose with the golden eggs. You can only take good care of business if you take good care of yourself. One way of doing that, is by being…


The final measure of fitness is flexibility. It’s the ability to move muscles and joints through a whole range of motions. Psychologically speaking, the most flexible person will have the most choices and will be able to achieve more. Huge corporations find it almost impossible to change course. Flexible freelancers adapt, change and can bend without breaking. They also have to keep on…


Next week I’ll be talking about the material aspect every business has to deal with. Your product will only be as good as the tools you use to make it. You are one of those tools. That’s why it is essential to keep on investing in yourself. Sign up for trainings. Participate in meetup groups. Read the latest literature. Invest in building a supportive social network. A successful solopreneur never stops investing. He or she is also…


The freedom of owning your own business can easily become a trap. With no one to hold you accountable, it is very tempting to spend a lot of time doing the things you like whenever you want. Those who run a successful business often start the day by doing the things they don’t like but that need to be done anyway. They delegate things they’re not good at, and that take up too much time. Being disciplined also applies to the way you manage your money. Successful solopreneurs have a strong work ethic and they…


In a saturated market, one of the best strategies for success is to excel in what you do. However, it is not enough to be good at what you do. You have to express yourself in ways in which you are heard. You’ve got to master marketing to reach customers and colleagues. They’ll be more open to your message if you have a clear…


Find a specific area that defines you, but that does not limit you. Your niche is the raison d’être for your business (the reason your business exists). It’s the focus of your attention. If you’re not clear what your focus should be, you’re like a ship, drifting at sea. Clients will have a hard time differentiating what you have to offer from your competitors. You’ll have a hard time selling it to them (and to yourself). In essence, you need…


As a solopreneur, you control the course of your business. You control your professional standards, your services, your rates, the hours you’re willing to work, the flow of money, and the way you communicate. Are you ready for that responsibility? Not only that, is it something you would embrace and enjoy? All of this points to the last attribute I’d like to bring up. It’s having an…


Some have described it as the “ability to see something in nothing.” It’s the urge to take matters into your own hands and to take calculated risks. It’s about being proactive, passionate, patient, and persistent. Entrepreneurs have to overcome obstacles, absorb losses, and gradually grow their business. If you don’t treat it like a true business, it will never be one.

And finally, all of these attributes will make very little difference if you lack one specific mental quality.

Take the first letter of each attribute, and you’ll know exactly what I mean!

What mindset has been instrumental in your success as a freelancer?

What has been your greatest challenge, and how did you overcome it?

Pass on the knowledge, and allow us to learn from your experience!

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

PS Be sweet. Please retweet.

PPS The Making Money In Your PJs Contest has been extended to Wednesday, June 18th!

photo credit: LukePDQ via photopin cc

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs."

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Freelancing

19 Responses to The Stuff Between Your Ears

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  2. Melanie Saunders

    Yes, persistence is the key! And at times when I get discouraged, I just keep up my cold calling. It works, believe me! About 30 percent of my voiceover work comes from my agent, and at least 70 percent comes from my own marketing by cold calls. I’ve found that the numbers game really works and I’m so excited about it. The more I dedicate myself to it, the more gigs I get. All the best!


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Even though I’m not a big fan of cold calling, if it works for you, stick to it. In my new book Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs, I devote an entire chapter to cold calling. Wishing you the very best!


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  4. Brian von Dedenroth

    This is what they ought to teach you in school Paul. And since they don’t I’d add if you transition from the 9 to 5 world as I did, unless you’re young which I kind of wasn’t, make sure you have some means of income to help you transition smoothly into your solopreneur existence otherwise it’s hard to keep the stuff between your ears where it’s supposed to be when the bills keep rollin’ in.


  5. Christian Rosselli

    Another gem Paul! You’re overflowing with incredible wisdom. I like to think of your blog as work therapy for me. Whenever I’m feeling defeated or out of spirits, I turn to your words. This week, the last two points: CONTROL and ENTREPRENEURSHIP really came into play, as I saw new avenues of opportunity and called to action the issues that were bringing me down. Thank you again!


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Your comment made my day, Christian. Onward and upward!


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  9. jill goldman

    Indeed, Paul! One does need to have some skills and talent in order to make it work, too.


  10. jill goldman

    Excellent one, Paul! For me, persistence has been key. Also, continually learning whatever I can to help propel my business forward, and being willing to make changes along the way. Finding what works for me, based on what I learn, has also been important. and yes, the belief that I can do it. Thank you for your wise words.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks for sharing, Jill. Having what I call a series of “empowering beliefs” can make a huge difference. However, beliefs that aren’t backed up by professional skills are nothing more than fairy tales we tell ourselves to make us feel better.


  11. Matt Forrest

    Look at you and your hidden messages…next book will be “The Strikwerda Code,” right? Good points, though. One cannot underestimate the importance of confidence, tenacity, and commitment!


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    The sequel to Making Money In Your PJs: The Strikwerda Code. If it will do just as well as Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, count me in!


  12. Joell Jacob

    Great article, Paul. I read “The Road Less Traveled” when I was 20 and the lesson of Delayed Gratification stuck with me. It is an important piece of my entrepreneur mentality. Belief and determination also play a major role. One of my greatest challenges in VO (and um…. in life) is being vulnerable and knowing that I won’t please everyone. My skin’s been getting thicker over the years. VO has been a great lesson for emotional and spiritual growth! ha!


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    The principle of delayed gratification is not very popular in today’s culture of “I want it, and I want it NOW.” We’re made to believe that we can achieve almost instant success if only we invest enough money in training X, coach Y or casting site Z. As Steve Martin once said:

    “I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success.”


  13. Ted Mcaleer

    Soooo sneaky. Nice touch at the end, I had to go back and check it!
    Oh and if you are reading this blog for the first time – This is how it’s done.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thanks, Ted. You may call me “sneaky Strikwerda”!


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