There's a clearly defined hierarchy within an office setting, and when you need someone to go to bat for you, there's usually a higher-up who can do so. However, when you're self-employed, you need to be your own biggest fan.
True, this may sound narcissistic. I'm not suggesting you stand on a rooftop with a megaphone broadcasting your wonderfulness. But you also need to know when to stand your ground and look out for your own best interests. Because, if you don't, who will?
That means standing up for what you believe in. One of the best parts about being self-employed is not having to deal with a difficult employer or boss 24/7, day in and day out. And if you're being taken advantage of, it can sometimes be easier to call that person out... from a distance at your home office.
It also means that you need to stand your ground on certain issues. Quite often I've had to defend the rates I charge for writing and editing, mostly because there are umpteen writers and editors out there, some of whom aren't qualified for the job and undercut the industry standard rate for those services. So I've had to explain why I charge what I charge.
However, in the end, clients quickly realize that they get what they pay for, and if they want to have a professional job done, they need to hire a true professional to do it. And that's me.
Am I conceited? No. I don't think I'm better than any other equally-qualified professional. But I do know that I have worth. And I will always defend that.
Only you know how much time and work you've put into a project, and when that is being questioned, you're the only one who can defend it.
So defend it. Don't be afraid to stick to your guns. Know that your time and efforts are worth something (a lot!), and don't let anyone else think differently. You're your own best friend or worst enemy.
Be your biggest fan. And know that I'm your second biggest.
Jennifer Cox is a regular Suburban columnist and blogger, and writes for daily newspapers as well as national magazines. She's a social media guru, a Suzy Homemaker wannabe, and the mother of a 3-year-old son.