Making the decision to go into business for yourself can be very exciting and scary at the same time (at least this was how it was for me way back when). The dream of becoming my own boss, setting my own hours, and not having anyone tell me what to do is what sold me on the idea. However, keeping that sweet dream staying sweet is a whole different story!

Mistake #1: Letting My Business Run Me Instead of Me Run My Business

Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way so if I can help you avoid this huge mistake I made, this article has served its purpose.

It was after earning my Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) certification I decided to open my doors for business. My intention was to have a home-based resume business, giving me the opportunity to raise our family. Unfortunately, I let my business get the upper hand and before I knew it, I had all three of my daughters in full-time childcare.

Although I attended (and still attend) all of their school activities and sporting events, work was continuously on my mind and the sense of overwhelm was what I took to bed several nights after burning the midnight oil.


    * Family first. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

    * Time goes by WAY too fast and you don’t want to have regrets (speaking from experience!).

    * Plan out your day and stick to it. Carve out time for client project work only. Set boundaries around your work schedule.

    * Ensure that your clients understand your company polices and that they respect your time.

    * Do unto your clients as you would have them do unto you.

Mistake #2: Taking on Any Resume Project

When starting out, taking on any resume writing project sounds great because that means money is being made. For me, it was money coming in and a way of getting experience in different industries and career levels. But a year or two later, I found myself taking on projects that didn’t challenge me enough or writing for industries that really didn’t interest me any longer.

Not being challenged and not being interested in certain industries took away the excitement I once had when I first started my business and this was not a good thing. So, I decided to specialize and brand my company toward a targeted audience. What a world of difference it made!

Many writers think if they specialize or narrow the industries they write for that it will limit the amount of money they can make in their business. Not true at all. In fact, it can do just the opposite!

To illustrate what I mean, let’s say you’re having heart issues and surgery is a possibility. Who would you be more apt to make your appointments with – a general practitioner and general surgeon to perform the surgery if you need it or would you want to see a heart specialist and heart surgeon?

Now, let’s apply that same rule to your resume business. If an IT person or an executive manager is seeking a resume service and they have the choice to work with a general resume writer or a writer who specializes in IT resume writing or executive management level resumes, who do you think these people would check out first?


    * Don’t settle for writing just any resume to make a buck.

    * Specialize and let it be part of your branding message.

    * Determine which industry(s), and/or career level you enjoy writing for and gives you the most satisfaction.

Mistake #3: Willing to Negotiate My Fees Just to Make the Sale

In the resume industry, we can experience seasons of floods and droughts when it comes to what money we bring in each month. The good news is that you’re not alone! I experienced it as I’m sure pretty sure most of our colleagues (resume writers and career coaches) if not all have experienced really good months as well as not so good months to the point of closing only one sale for the month.

If you’ve positioned yourself as one who provides expertise in your industry, value, and you are confident in the results you’re able to deliver, the person seeking your services will not baulk at your fees or try to talk you down. If they do, stand firm and let them go if you have to with the mindset it’s their loss, not yours.

Negotiating your fees sends the message that you yourself question if what you’re charging is really worth charging. If you don’t believe you deserve what you’re worth, why would anyone else believe it?

In the beginning and when it seemed that resume projects were coming in few and far between, I’d let clients negotiate my fees. I figured it was better than nothing and I could use the money.

The light bulb turned on for me when I had an executive level client who I let negotiate my fee that taught me a BIG lesson. I took on his project and during my conversation with him when we got to the point of going over the content of his draft, he told me how he thought things should have been written and for me to “be a good little resume writer and do my job because that's why he’s paying me!”

My client’s remark with no doubt set a fire under me. It was that particular experience early on in my business that led me to make the decision to never again negotiate my fees. And, led me to reevaluate my entire business and how I ran it. Believe me, this girl was a great deal more than just “a little resume writer” and I made certain this message came across very clear.


    * Have a full understanding of what you bring to the table, what you deliver, and how you serve your clients.

    * Position yourself so potential clients have a clear understanding of what value you bring to them as their career expert and resume writer, leaving no room for them to even think your fees are negotiable.

    * If a potential client wants to negotiate your fee, let them know your fee is firm. Don’t be afraid to let them go.

    * Stand your ground. It communicates that you firmly believe you offer great value to your clients and can attest to the quality of work and service your company provides and the fee is justified.

Author's Bio: 

Maria Hebda, CCMC, CPRW: It only took a few short years to realize what the public DIDN’T know about the “careers” industry—that it actually existed.

I vowed to establish credibility as a resume writing and career coaching expert. After obtaining my Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) certification in 1997, I became a career coaching expert and earned my Certified Career Management Coach (CCMC) certification.

The Career Experts was born out of my own commitment to bolstering a highly selective group of the certified career professionals, providing rich resources for them and our audience of job seekers, and connecting the two groups with an ultimate goal of creating a successful relationship.

Learn more about how we can support you as a credentialed career professional by visiting us at!