What you can learn from the Mongols

Posted on Feb 28th, 2012 | News and opinion

The Mongols, known as ferocious warriors and controllers of the largest contiguous land empire the world has ever seen, can actually offer some useful bits of advice for freelancers. While thousands of mounted archers sweeping across the Steppes of Central Asia might not seem like the greatest resource for tips, this article will show you otherwise.

The Importance of Proactivity

Picture of a Mongol army

The Mongols started out from one area of Asia and went on to become so strong that they threatened to bring about the destruction of Western Europe. To anyone with a sound mind, this is no easy task. They constantly sought out and chased new areas to take over. They knew that if they wanted to become one of the most powerful empires in the known world, they would have to continue to work and push ahead.

As freelancers, we all know that we can’t just sit around and wait for work to fall into our laps. While this does happen from time to time, it’s common sense that seeking out work is going to lead to a much more profitable life. The point is that sometimes we can get lazy after some success, which can be especially true if we have a few regular clients we can get by on. Suddenly, networking events and sending out pitches seem incredibly easy to put off and avoid.

Relying on regular clients is risky as, if one or two fall through, you’ll find yourself in a bit of a monetary mess if you’ve not been keeping your eye peeled. Obviously you can only take on so much at one time, but there’s certainly no harm in paying attention to what other viable clients are up to or making new contacts. This will help ensure you won’t be out of work for too long if something goes wrong.

Expansion and Conquest

Picture of the extent of the Mongol Empire

A fairly accurate graphic definition of the word “impressive”

As previously mentioned, the Mongols had the largest contiguous empire in history. At its peak, it covered 20.5 million square miles, which is 22.29% of the planet’s entire landmass. This huge level of expansion brought them power, influence and wealth. Such action comes with its perils of course. It often creates new enemies and, with that, new threats. One wrong move or loss on the battlefield and it could lead to everything falling apart. Despite that, the Mongols pressed on to success (for a time of course, all empires fall eventually).

Without expansion, your freelance career has limitations. Many freelancers are perfectly happy with that and are fine with where they are and what they are achieving, but if you’re one of those who aren’t, you must be prepared to take a risk.

It might be that you freelance on the side of another job, or you could already work freelance full-time, but are considering hiring an employee or two. At their best, these choices could bring you better projects and more success, while at their worst they could ruin everything. Leaving your job to go freelance full-time means leaving yourself open to losing work and having nothing to support you. Taking on an employee is expensive and can generally be an incredibly difficult task to take on.

Sit down and decide exactly what you want to achieve and weigh that up against what you stand to lose. The Mongols may have shown that taking big chances pays off, but not everyone is so lucky. Just consider the people who went to war with them.

Religious Freedom and Learning How to Network



Gengis Khan seen here not really caring about your religion

The Mongol Empire was fairly liberal at times in regards to religious freedom. Due to the extent of their conquests a lot of people from different religions came under their control. Different empires have tried different tactics at various times in history with varying results. In the most simplistic terms, there are two choices: the enforcement of a certain belief or thought, or allowing the people to believe what they want. The Mongols chose the latter and while this can allow enemies binded by religion to more easily plot against you, it can also foster good relations and avoid ill-feelings and hatred. Most importantly, it can allow you to have allies in many different places – an integral part of sustaining an empire.

The point here is that by embracing different things, you can make your life a lot easier. If you’re planning to expand, you’ll soon discover you’ll have to pick up a lot of new skills to rely on. If you don’t learn, you’ll end up failing or, at best, stagnating. Supporting yourself with various skills means finding work is easier and you have a stronger safety net.

Things like basic web design and coding, SEO, networking, and marketing are all very valuable things to know. While it would be a much better world if we just had to rely on the skills we actually get paid for, this just isn’t the case. Like any other business in the world, there’s more to it than the product or service. Build yourself a strong base by branching out and it’ll certainly pay off.

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Written by Joshua Danton Boyd

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