How Being Vulnerable Grows Your Freelance Business

When you’ve spent years (decades?) being large, in charge, a confident leader, and accustomed to being right, vulnerability can feel like a cold and shameful slap in the face. It may surprise you to learn that being vulnerable grows your business.

Voyageur U helps you embrace your vulnerability and turn it into a goal-shattering asset. Freelancers need a community that works for them as they launch, expand, and scale. 

Join Voyageur U as a member today and get the tools and support you need for the success you want.

Vulnerability: It’s All About Your Attitude

When you think about vulnerability, what happens in your body and brain? Do you remember (and cringe) at an embarrassing moment you wish never happened? Do you look down your nose at being vulnerable as a sign of weakness? 

Do you remember when you “failed,” either at work or home and how exposed and scared you felt? 

Those reactions to embarrassment and perceived failure are genuine and valid. No one loves falling on their face while others watch. Nor do we want to repeat clumsiness or incompetence.

The kind of vulnerability that grows your business is a willingness to admit you don’t have all the answers. It means letting go of your lofty leadership role and the relentless pressure to succeed and play business politics.

As a freelancer, you move into a service role that utilizes the skills you have, builds upon your knowledge, and places your clients in charge of what they know and want. (Even if you think you know better.)

confused businessman who is being vulnerable and admitting he doesn't know the answer

Embrace Being the Dumbest Person in the Room

When you’re the smartest person in any group, you’ve eliminated your growth potential. It’s tough if you’ve grown used to leading with confidence and pulling others behind you to sit in the “student” desk again.

You likely chose to freelance because you’re exhausted from the endless politics, pressure, and expectations. Maybe you turned to freelancing as a path away from everything you don’t like about a high-powered job. 

After all, you want to use your skill sets and experience for the highest service to others and your benefit without the daily drama. 

When you’re a freelancer, though, you must make the switch from always being in the driver’s seat to getting inside your clients’ heads, admitting how much you don’t know, and being willing to learn and collaborate efficiently.

In other words, many business leaders making the jump to freelancing find they need to get out of their own way to succeed. When you can enjoy being a learner again while navigating client personalities and challenges, you’ll cultivate trust and confidence from your audience base.

confident businesswoman growing her business

Vulnerability Asks a Different Set of Questions

You can look at vulnerability as the opposite of armor. Your expertise and skill sets can be used as armor to keep clients at a distance if you’re not careful. Instead, build a bridge of collaboration and synergy with your clients by asking a different set of questions to help you embrace feeling vulnerable.

Instead of:

  • “Here’s what I do.”
  • “You’ll need to make these changes.”
  • “I took my team to xxx success measures with my proven methodology.”


  • “Tell me about your business and a few of your top challenges.”
  • “I may have some tools in my “kit” that can help you, what questions do you have?”
  • “How does your team view “outside” contributions from helping professionals?”
  • “I’m excited to dive in and learn about what makes your business tick.”
  • “I’ve seen and practiced some things that may work well in teams like yours, but I always learn more than I teach with my clients.”
  • “Every client I serve is unique. How can I dovetail my strengths and willingness to learn with your needs in ways that create the best outcomes possible?”

Beware of Performative Vulnerabilities

Judiciously sharing about your professional blind spots or elements of your personal life can build rapport, empathy, and collaboration with your clients. Oversharing about your failures, personal challenges, or knowledge gaps can have the opposite effect.

As you learn to drop your professional armor, you’ll likely swing the vulnerability pendulum too far from time to time. 

Grow from each experience by taking note of the results you get, and admit your mistakes when you make them. A simple apology for the odd professional gaffe makes the recipient feel heard and valued. 

Taking responsibility for your mistakes enables you to move forward more quickly while avoiding the sticky quicksand of shame.

team of millennial workers collaborating on a project together at a table

How Does Vulnerability Grow My Business?

In her best-selling book Dare to Lead, author Brene Brown speaks extensively about “Rumbling with Vulnerability.” 

Here’s what she says about excelling at the vulnerability rumble:

“A rumble is a discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy middle of problem identification and solving, and to listen with the same passion as we want to be heard.”

You can think of vulnerability as leaning into challenging professional situations, when every piece of you would rather throw up your hands, exert force, or retreat to the place where you can be “right.”

Amping up your listening skills is perhaps the first place where you can gain beneficial practice with vulnerability. Listen hard, listen long, and listen without formulating your response or solution right away.

Then, be willing to come to the table repeatedly to build solutions that embrace all stakeholders and help your clients (and you!) discover and live into their values with each professional crossroads.

Join Voyageur U for Resources, Networking, and Success

Voyageur U has curated a powerful roster of other freelancers in a prime network of helping professionals. We offer online resources and real-life connections to help you build the fulfilling freelance business you know you can lead.

Every solo-preneur needs a team of supporters, colleagues, and related experts to tap as they grow their audience. Voyageur U puts them all together in a convenient place at a fantastic investment. We eliminate the grunt work of building a network you can use and trust.

Join us as a member today and see for yourself the value and growth we provide within the freelancing community.



John Arms.

Co-founder and Author.

I get my energy from helping professionals succeed in their independent businesses. I get to help people who were once stuck in their careers get unstuck. It’s truly an amazing thing to witness that transformation. I believe that success in the independent economy does more for a person’s pocketbook, health, life balance and sense of purpose than any other type of career choice.