Operations

Increasing your productivity with Ashantè Fray

Ashantè shares how Canadian freelancers can assemble a toolkit that can increase their productivity and grows with their business.

November 9, 2020

Ashantè Fray is an intuitive tarot and oracle reader at Synchronized Soul where she focuses on getting souls aligned with their spiritual journey.

Ashantè uses her intuitive gift as well as divination tools to provide clarity and guidance. She encourages all souls to embrace who they are and start living their lives authentically.

In this episode, Ashantè and Mohammed talk about how Canadian freelancers can assemble a toolkit that increases their productivity and can grow with their business.

Heads up: This episode has swears.

Short on time? Skip to the parts you're most interested in.

[04:16] Getting started with freelancing

[07:11] Staring a freelance psychic business

[10:36] Tools that Ashantè uses

[14:34] Motivation for registering a business

[19:28] Registering your business as a sole proprietor

[21:56] Challenges of transitioning a side hustle into a business

[25:16] Ashantè's current toolkit

[28:09] Dealing with burnout as a freelancer

[28:52] When "entrepreneur" can be a dirty word

If you enjoyed the conversation, check out more episodes of our podcast. You can subscribe to Freelance Canada on Apple Podcasts or listen to it wherever you get your podcast. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the episode.

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Mohammed: Let's start by understanding what it is that you do as a freelancer?

Ashantè: It's a big question, but to break it down simply: I am an intuitive tarot and oracle reader. What that means in basic terms is that I am a psychic, but there are different forms of psychic abilities. My particular psychic abilities come in three different forms. [The first is] Clair Audio Sense, meaning I hear things from time to time [...] a word, sound or music will just pop into my mind.

I’m also clair senti, which means that I feel [others’] feelings — I'm an empath, as other people would like to say. [I’m] able to feel somebody else's physical pain or excitement. [However], the strongest way that my psychic ability comes through is through a kind of ‘clear knowing’ — an understanding of knowing that something is true. 

This is probably the hardest psychic ability to [hone] because there's no way for you to actually find that confirmation from anybody else except for yourself. You just have to know that that information that you've been getting is correct; that the download I've received is the information that I should be passing on. 

In layman terms, I am a Soul Coach. I'm [also] a mentor, a cheerleader, [and] an accountability buddy. I am everything and anything that you need me to be along your spiritual path to ensure that you are getting back to yourself; that you're getting back to being authentically yourself and living your life the best way that you know how.

I am a no shit psychic or tarot reader. I'm not here to take your money. I'm not in here to waste your time. If you sign up for a reading with me, it's going to be half an hour or an hour of real, hard-hitting facts and core beliefs that you believe to be true, but that I will tell you are not true.

Mohammed: I like that when you talk about being a psychic, it's not from a place of [finding a lost relative or a ghost in the room] — maybe that is a part of your larger services, I don't know. What I think is interesting to me, at least from the sounds of it, [is that] your focus seems to be [enabling] people to be more spiritual as part of their overall wellbeing — whether that's physical, mental or however it may be — [so they can get a better sense of not just the world but of themselves.

Do I have that right?

Ashantè: That is correct. That is exactly what I like to do. I guide you back to you. I like to say, “I am a no shit psychic or tarot reader. I'm not here to take your money. I'm not in here to waste your time. If you sign up for a reading with me, it's going to be half an hour or an hour of real, hard-hitting facts and core beliefs that you believe to be true, but that I will tell you are not true.”

And every single time you say something that is in alignment with the story that you've been telling yourself, I will correct you so that you can start thinking of the things that you think are automatic in your life or just automatic responses.

I strongly believe that any divination tool that you use is really about self-development. [It’s] about trusting yourself and trusting your confidence. Trust your mission. Trust the things that bring you joy instead of having everybody, including society, tell you that you shouldn't be doing [what you’re doing] for whatever reason.

Mohammed: I personally don't know too many psychics who freelance. As a result, when I think about freelancing, I typically think about a copywriter, a designer, a marketing consultant, and so forth.

How does one become a psychic and do that as a freelancer?

Ashantè: That is a great question. Because that was something that I was [asking] myself too — “How on earth do I make this into a job for myself or [turn] this into a company?” When I started doing tarot readings, specifically, it was a big leap for me because I've always known that I was a little bit psychic.

[I grew up] being told that I was an old soul or saying things to my parents that I just knew to be true and then they’d happen to come true. But it wasn't something that I really thought anything of; I thought it was just the way that things were. Until about three years ago, [when] I started getting very attracted to crystals.

I was doing my masters in English Literature in Nova Scotia when I saw these crystals and, in my head, they were just rocks. I see these pretty rocks and I'm like, ‘Oh, these are cute. But $15? I don't wanna pay $15 for some rocks.’

But I kept coming back to them. And at that moment, I was like, ‘You know what? I'm just going to go for it,’ so I bought the crystals. One of my friends in Nova Scotia was very much into crystals and started talking to me about energy and how they can bring different forms of energy to your life and keep you balanced.

That's really when I started getting into divination tools: crystal healing, Reiki healing, Tarot cards, Oracle cards, pendulums, etc. [I was] trying to figure out what works for me but Oracle and Tarot cards were definitely the way I was meant to bring my gift into the world. 

I started doing free readings for a bit until, honestly, I got a divine thought on the toilet and was like, ‘You could just make this a business.’ [Then], ‘What could it be called?’ [I came up with] Synchronized Soul [as a way] to get people back in harmony with themselves. And that's kind of the way it went. 

It didn't occur to me that I could register as a business or that I could start making money until I started doing some research and figuring out that people charge to do tarot readings. And, more than that, that they make successful businesses out of it — six-figure businesses out of it — by taking the time to actually guide somebody back to themselves.

It's interesting because it's not something that I ever would have thought was possible, especially with the way that I grew up. Owning your own business was never a goal of mine or a dream of mine, but it made the most logical sense. And that's the reason why I did it. It was like, ‘If I'm going to have to do this and I want to do it right. I'm not trying to get in trouble with the government [...] So what do I have to do?’

But I do think it's very important to create a structure and figure out who you’re marketing for, what your ideal client [is], who you’re trying to help, what it is that you're trying to get out of that situation, [etc].

Mohammed: What was the thought process [behind] turning this into a freelance business for yourself?

Ashantè: It started off with a lot of market research. That's something that I really wanted to touch on: it's so important for you to figure out what it is that you're getting yourself in store for, especially when you decide that you're going to register as a business or become a freelancer.

So, I did a lot of market research on tarot companies, specifically, to figure out what start-up fees would be like and how much money I should be expecting to put into my business. But [I was also] also thinking about a business plan: What are my goals? What is the annual income that I'm trying to make in my first year? How many readings would I have to do in order for me to get that done? What do I want my hourly salary to be? Do I want to get paid hourly? Do I want to get paid per reading? Do I want to take on clients and have that be mentorship? Really taking the time to create a business structure that is sustainable.

And, for me personally, I thought it was very important for me to create that structure from the beginning so that I didn't have to do too many edits. We all rebrand as companies — [whether] you figure out that you have different values or maybe a different mission statement or you thought one way and your vision ended up becoming something else.

But I do think it's very important to create a structure and figure out who you’re marketing for, what your ideal client [is], who you’re trying to help, what it is that you're trying to get out of that situation, [etc]. So, [...] that's what really got me thinking about what was next, what companies I would need to work for in order for my dreams to come true, how I would get invoicing up and running... Those kinds of things.

Mohammed: What I find interesting is that almost everything for you had to have been fleshed out a bit more. And it seems that you were putting all these different structures in place. Is that just how you are as a person or were there other experiences or people that you learned this thought process from?

Ashantè: I think the first one. I'm definitely like that as a human; just trying to figure out what makes the most logical step when trying to make a decision. Because my business is so niche, right? And because the way that I do my tarot readings is about self-development and not about trying to see into your future or trying to figure out what your love life is going to be. 

I really focus on how you get your vibrations and your frequency back to where they should have been in the beginning so that you can start attracting and manifesting that stuff in your life. A lot of the mentors and the sponsors that I saw, actually didn't go about creating their brand in that way.

So, I did have to do a lot of research to figure out what that structure would look like. Figuring out how [to] register a business number, how [to] get a business account up and running. If [I have] a website, do I want my clients to be able to book through [it]? How much would that cost? Especially invoicing — I suck at accounting and money is so hard for me — so [I had] to figure out how [to] get financial software that's going to keep track of all of these things? Those are the starting points that really allowed me to [build] the foundation that I needed so that I had a brand. And that's what's really important when creating any business: you have to have a brand because there are so many people in this market that might be doing something that's similar to you. So how do you stand out?

Mohammed: And what was your process for assembling this toolkit of yours for your business?

Ashantè: I started off by doing a good old Google search; starting from the beginning. Then, [through] my Google search, [I discovered] Ownr. And Ownr was actually the website that I used to register Synchronized Soul as a sole proprietorship. It happened in minutes. I was dumbfounded by how quick it was for me to sit down and get that done. 

Once I realized that nobody else had that name [or] was registered with that particular company, registering as a business ID probably cost me $90 and I had the license in the mail the next day. So, I was just able to be up and running. That site gave me a lot of information about different companies that I could be working with to make sure that I had [the right] information. 

Once I had a business number, I went straight to RBC to figure out how [to] get a business account up and running. They're so good in terms of ensuring that you have everything you need; I was able to register for a banking account and a credit card [on] the same day. 

And these things just to help you become legitimate, right? Like, when do you need to start filing for your taxes? Those are questions that you need to start asking yourself, but also, do you want to keep all of your information and your business information separate from your personal account?

That was something that was very important to me. I wanted to have accurate invoicing of how much money I was making and how much money I was putting out. I was able to do that with Wave, which was recommended through RBC. [It] is free financial software that keeps tracks of all of those invoices — you have the ability to track expenses, track your accounting, track your customers and you can easily connect them with your business accounts as well. Anything that I do with RBC is automatically connected to my invoicing account so it's so easy to keep track of that information. 

When I was going through this information, slowly but surely, [while] Ownr was that starting point for me, RBC banking really did open up the tools into other companies that I could be using. Another one that I want to mention, in terms of what's part of my toolkit, is GoDaddy

GoDaddy is where my website has everything. I was able to get my website, online appointment booking, and my own email domain for GoDaddy for two years. It was very inexpensive for me to upkeep that. In addition to that, I use Canva a lot for branding stuff. I'm sure everybody knows what Canva is by now, but if you don't, you’ve got to get on that because it is so easy for me to create my marketing information, for me to have consistency in my brand colours and ensure consistency across all of my sites. Whether that's Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, or LinkedIn, I want to make sure that it doesn't matter where you go, you still get that feeling [that it’s all] part of Synchronized Soul and you know that you're part of that community; part of that space. 

Of course, I have PayPal as well. That is directly set up to my site, which is a very easy way for me to track those expenses. Once I assembled that toolkit, which I would say is a very basic toolkit, a lot of the things that I'm using are either free or very inexpensive for [freelancers] to get up and running, but it really does add to that feeling of being a legitimate company. 

So, instead of people looking at Synchronized Soul and thinking that it's a side hustle, they get that [feeling] right away that it's a business because of my domain, my email address, the brand colours, the logo, [and] ensuring that there is a consistent brand throughout.

I believe that the driving motivator was that I started taking my side hustle seriously as a business. And being in the domain that I am in, I strongly believe that what you put your energy towards will manifest and grow.

Mohammed: You mentioned earlier when we were chatting, that you didn't want to get into problems with the government and as soon as this idea to have a business [came to you], you went and registered a business. Now, at least in Canada, most people can run a freelance business without even having to register as a sole proprietor let alone even get a GST/HST number — which are two things people tend to get confused about — until, you know, they're making $30,000 or more.

What was your rationale for registering the business account? I know you mentioned there was a sense of [wanting to] keep things separate [and] this idea that, by having a registered business, you're more legitimate.

What other drivers were the reason for getting a business versus continuing to see how far you could get without having to register a business?

Ashantè: That is a great question. [...] I believe that the driving motivator was that I started taking my side hustle seriously as a business. And being in the domain that I am in, I strongly believe that what you put your energy towards will manifest and grow.

Originally when I started, it was a second Instagram account that was called I Am Ashantè and I just posted affirmations and tarot card polls that I did randomly. But it wasn't anything that I was taking too seriously because I was thinking about it as a side hustle. [It was] just something that I [did] that [brought] me joy.

But the moment I decided to take it seriously and take it as a business so that I could actually create either a part-time income or eventually replace my full-time income so that I [no longer had to] be in a corporate space, but do this stuff full time. I decided that it wasn't for me to show the universe that that was where my energy was going.

So, once I decided that that's what I wanted, it was very important for me to show the world that that is what I represented; that when I ask for the fee that I'm asking for, I'm not doing so because I'm just trying to take your money. I'm doing so because I'm an expert in my field, in my domain, and I know that I can help you.

I feel like it's very important for any freelancer to start taking themselves seriously. The moment that you do that, that's when other people start noticing that change in you as well. That was my personal driving force [...] and that was the way that I started to show up: by rebranding and creating a legitimate sole proprietorship so that I knew that I was a business. It was no longer a side hustle.

Mohammed: In a way, [it was more about] holding yourself accountable [and] reminding yourself that [you’re a business]. So, having that business registration was a reminder to yourself to keep that in mind when conducting your freelance business. Do I have that right?

Ashantè: That's exactly it. I strongly believe that where you put your energy towards, it will grow. There's so much abundance in this world and the universe or God or source — whatever it is that you want to call it — will bless you with whatever it is that you want once you start putting steps in that direction to ensure that [it comes] true.

So if my question was, ‘How do I make $100,000 five years from now? What steps do I need to be doing right now to ensure that that's a possibility?’ [For me, the answer was], ‘[I] need to be a business.’ Because once you start making that amount of money, you're going to have to pay taxes. 

Now that I'm doing it and I registered as a sole proprietorship, I'm sitting here thinking, ‘Man, I should have just registered as a business corporation because I know that I can make $30,000.’ So, the question is, ‘Am I going to sit down and have to change [my] whole structure again because [I] didn't think properly at the beginning?’

I believe in not limiting yourself and putting things into practice and dreaming up the world that you want to dream. And I think in taking those steps, I showed myself that I was holding myself accountable and that I was going to start taking [my business] seriously. I was going to put a system and a structure in place and create a schedule that works for me so that I knew that I was showing up for my business.

And that's a hard thing to do because a lot of freelancers are doing these things on the side. Nobody that I know of really just jumps in full force upfront because they want to ensure that they are taking the time to create that life or have the money they need in order for them to sustain [themselves].

Don't dream small. I limit myself a lot in my life based on the circumstances that I'm in right now. But if you think about where you could potentially be, that opens up so many possibilities for you.

Mohammed: Maybe I should add a little insight into your thought process about the $100,000 mark and getting a corporation versus sole proprietorship.

Ashantè: When I started Synchronized Soul, I registered as a sole proprietorship because I was the only person doing readings. I'm only one human. I'm the person who's doing all of the tarot readings [and] the coaching. Because of that, I realized that all of the liability would be on me.

[Had] I registered as a business, I would have that liability protection as a corporation but, because I'm one person, it was so much easier for me to file all of my taxes as one. As a sole proprietorship, all of my taxes can just pass through me instead of me having to file taxes as a business or a corporation. 

But I've been doing it a little bit longer now. I registered as a business in December of last year — so we're, what, seven or eight months in? And the more that I'm doing it, [the more] I'm realizing how I can expand. I can offer soul mentorship, I can offer workshops, I could offer workbooks, I can offer eBooks, crystals, [and] Reiki healing. There are so many things that I can do now. 

I started thinking [my business] could be so much bigger than what it is right now and because of that, I want to be a corporation. I know that I'm going to have to register and start paying taxes [and] register for GST/HST once I hit that $30,000 mark. But for me, if I'm hitting that $30,000 mark, that's a good indication that I can keep going. 

That's going to be the time where I decide that I'm going to be a corporation so that I can have that liability protection so that I can potentially hire other tarot readers and not have it only be me that's doing the reading. Or be able to actually create courses that people could follow on their own time that will help them through their journey. 

One thing that I also want to mention is: don't dream small. I limit myself a lot in my life based on the circumstances that I'm in right now. But if you think about where you could potentially be, that opens up so many possibilities for you. Then you start thinking about all of the things that you could potentially do. 

And that's kind of where I'm at — if I can make $30,000, I could hit $100,000. And if I could hit $100,000, I am just going to live life on a beach, with the computer, doing readings by a pool. I don't know who's going to be giving me my margarita, but I know there's going to be one in my hand. And that's all that matters.

Mohammed: I like your idea of dreaming big and I recognize that when you're getting started, sometimes it can be a little bit difficult because at, least for a lot of people, it's like, ‘How can I just get the first amount of money in so I can pay my bills?’ It's [all about] Maslow's hierarchy of needs [where you] get [your] basic needs met [and go from there]

What have been some of the challenges of transitioning to doing this for money versus before when you were doing the free readings?

Ashantè: The hardest part was, firstly, family and friends. And I think that might be something that a lot of people understand. When I started making that transition from doing something for free to actually charging someone, I had to start advertising that [...] if you're going to be asking me for readings, I have to start charging. It's so hard to put up those boundaries, especially with people who are used to having certain access to you [or] used to your Facebook account operating in a certain way — all of a sudden you're talking about something that they might not be used to. 

So really [take] the time to understand that what you're doing might not be for everybody, but it is for some people. And those people that you're trying to attract will find you. That was the thing that was really hard for me to overcome: recognizing that people were going to look at me a little differently. I was going to be labelled an entrepreneur which, for me, was always such a dirty word growing up. 

Now I find excitement in it. But trying to shift that taboo message was the first [challenge]. The second thing was finding mentors and sponsors [and] trying to figure out who I could be surrounded with that would think similar to me, had their own dreams in their own fields, that I could create an alliance with; create a shared understanding so that we had somebody to bounce ideas off of. 

Or, if I said something that I thought I wanted to do, having somebody sit down, correct that thought and say, “You haven't thought about it from this perspective.” I think it's really nice to get [a] focus group, some mentors or some sponsors, but that was definitely a hard thing for me to do.

And honestly [I’m] just starting to get to that place where I'm finding mentors and sponsors in my field that can help me. And that's about eight months of me doing some work to figure out somebody that I really connected with. 

So, I would suggest whoever's going into anything, when selecting your toolkit or creating your business, ensuring that you're making that switch to becoming a freelancer, get some people who support you. [Someone who] understands your vision. And even if they don't understand it, they're open to hearing about it because it's so good to get different perspectives, especially when you're still trying to figure out exactly what it is that you're trying to do or trying to hone your own skill.

It's been interesting to see [my dreams develop]. Some advice that I would give is, whatever it is that you're trying to build, you definitely have to focus on what steps you can take right now in order for you to get that vision.

Mohammed: And throughout this journey, what have been some obstacles in trying to figure out your business and trying to figure out this toolkit that you're putting together? Did that toolkit that you had mapped out initially work well? Or did you have to tune things a little bit further because of new lessons learned? What has been the progress so far?

Ashantè: Right now my toolkit is the same. I am using everything that I started with and I find that it works very well. I would highly recommend GoDaddy. I loved their customer service. They were so helpful. They're open 24 hours so I can get help whenever I need help.

And, honestly, their deals were so inexpensive and the fact that I was able to get that bundle for two years, really kind of alleviated a lot of stress of trying to figure out am I going to have to pay for this domain again? Also having everything on an automatic renewal has been so helpful. So, I highly recommend GoDaddy

In terms of progress and what's changed, I think some things that I've been considering as of recently have just been trademarking. Like whether or not I want to trademark Synchronized Soul. But also thinking about copyright issues, especially as I start thinking about creating eBooks and e-courses — I start thinking about that material and that intellectual content and actually being able to publish that. How do I protect it?

I've also, again, been thinking about HST and GST as you said earlier, I figured out through research that it [starts] at that $30,000 mark, which means I have some time, which is nice. But it's been interesting to see [my dreams develop]. Some advice that I would give is, whatever it is that you're trying to build, you definitely have to focus on what steps you can take right now in order for you to get that vision.

I think that having that end goal of what it is that you're working towards [is important]. It doesn't need to be a specific goal: what are you intending to create with this? What's your intended outcome out of this project? What are you trying to feel? 

That's what reminds me every single day. If I'm a little tired and I don't want to do a reading or if I feel low energy, I sit down and I remind myself of my ideal clients, remind myself [of] the problems that they are facing, remind myself why it is that I decided to do this work in the first place. [Then], it's a little bit easier for me to progress and to keep up. 

I do think that that energy piece and finding a work-life balance is a hard thing to do, but once you get some type of schedule in place or system that works for you, I find that it's a little bit easier to deal with that that exhaustion, which has definitely been a challenge recently that I've been trying to overcome.

Mohammed: What do you mean by that?

Ashantè: I'm just feeling really burnt out in terms of, having a full-time job, [and] having a business that's starting to pick up speed. When I first got into it, I started dreaming so small that it didn't occur to me that I could have multiple readings in a week or that I could have multiple people reaching out to do a reading or that I would have people reaching out to do mentorship or coaching with me. 

So, going back to that piece of doing something that's sustainable: as you're growing, recognize that you need to grow with your business. You might have to reshift those boundaries and those expectations that you put in place, in the beginning, to work with that new problem that you're facing. It's all about being very flexible, in my opinion.

Mohammed: I do want to go back to one comment you made earlier that you thought the word “entrepreneur” was a dirty word. What was the thought process behind that? 

Ashantè: What a good question! 

I am Jamaican. And growing up Jamaican and within the Black culture, I feel like when people say “entrepreneur”, the image that's automatically associated with that is that you're either sales or you're selling something under the table or that it's actually like a side hustle that you're not taking too seriously, but you're just gonna call it a business.

So, for me when I heard the word “entrepreneur,” I never really found that they were people —the people I was coming across in my life, but also the way that it was [talked about] within the community — that were taking their business very seriously. If they didn't have a schedule, they weren't putting in the time. 

But yet [they had] all these ridiculous charges and fees. And that's something that we face a lot within the Black community. Like I always want to buy Black-owned, but I find that it's so hard to do because they're trying to supplement an income, which means their prices are a little bit higher.

[...] I felt like if I called myself an entrepreneur then that would be the connotations that would be associated with me; that I was just trying to take somebody's money or that I wasn't adding value or that I was just doing something on the side and calling it a business, but not taking it seriously.

There [were] so many negative connotations associated with that word, that it took me so long to understand that being an entrepreneur is not a bad thing. That I can have a life outside of a 9-5 or outside of something that's been created for me.

[I can] really allow myself to ask those big questions, like, ‘Why do I feel that way? Why do I feel like I can't live a life that's a little bit freer or that is outside of what other people have dreamt for me or associated with me?’ And really taking the time to uncover those core beliefs for myself so that I can get back to being okay with that word. 

It's the same thing when we talk about mental health or we're talking about these taboo topics that people don't want to talk about. I think it's really important for you to question why it makes you uncomfortable. I think, in questioning that, it really allows me to step foot in my own power and be able to proudly call myself an entrepreneur.

To know that I am going after my dreams and going after my goals and that it is different from what society has deemed appropriate for me, but I'm going to do it anyway because I'm going to fucking live my life and I'm going to live it to the best of my abilities, the best way that I know how. And this is what brings me joy.

I think whatever brings you joy, whatever lights you on fire, whatever brings you passion in your life, is what you should be pursuing. Everything else is noise. 

Mohammed: I love that. And I think this is also a great place to wrap up our discussion for today. And as we do, it'd be great if you could tell us where people can find out more about you and your work online.

Ashantè: Yeah, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share. And [as for] where people can find me: I am predominantly on Facebook and Instagram. The name would be Synchronized Soul, but I also have a website which would be the same name. www.synchronizedsould.com

And thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about something that is a little bit taboo in a mainstream environment. I really appreciate the chance there.

Mohammed: Amazing. Well, thank you so much!

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