Q and A with Athenée
This week, meet my dear friend Athenée, founder and president of Action:Chaos! Athenée helps busy professionals use technology to stay organized, productive, and connected. She is available for workshops, online training, and consulting.
1. How did you get into your current business? Was this a natural progression from an earlier career?
For most of my career I’ve been an office manager and always loved to create work and paper flow processes. When I heard there was a possibility of doing this as a business I jumped for it.
1a. How long have you been a solopreneur?
About 10 years.
2. Could you describe a typical day in the life for you, in terms of work hours, types of projects, and your work setting?
I try to schedule my day, but as you know it doesn’t always work that way. Typically I’ll start real early in the morning to work on my bigger projects, then I’ll take a break, and if I don’t have a client session I’ll continue working on my project. Taking a break to go to the gym. Then back for some work. And at night if I still have the energy I’ll do some more ‘light-weight’ work.
3. Can you earn a decent living in your field?
You can, but it all depends on your ambition, timing, and drive.
4. What is one thing you wish someone had told you when you first started your small business?
Being a solopreneur you wear all hats in your business, especially in the beginning when you cannot hire or outsource your work to someone else. So thinking you can have 40 billable hours a week is an illusion.
5. How many projects do you typically handle at a time?
That all depends on the projects. One client can be a simple 2 hour session with a few follow up phone sessions, another client can be a year-round project, and yet another client can be a workshop that needs to be worked on and can take several weeks.
6. Can you describe one of the more unique or interesting projects you’ve worked on?
Over the past 9 years there have been many and of course due to client confidentiality I have to keep it all a secret.
7. What are some of the “tools of the trade” that you use to keep track of everything? Any special project tools? Organizational tools?
All of my tools are cloud based because I need to be able to work from anywhere sometimes out of my car or even internationally. There are many tools out there; one of my favorite ones is PBworks, which is my online network – where I can manage my entire office from no matter where I am.
8. How do you get the majority of your business? Do you do traditional marketing? Networking? Social media? Referrals? All of the above?
It’s a mix. The biggest one is referrals, followed by networking. And the rest a close third.
9. What is a unique way of getting a new customer that you would be willing to share?
I’d say go out there and offer speaking topics to groups. It’s a great way for people to get to know you, understand what you do, and see that you’re the expert they want to work with.
10. If you could offer one piece of advice to someone just starting as a freelancer, what would it be?
Do it because you really really love doing it, because you’re going to be doing a whole lot of it.
Some great books to read: