Maybe the word “free” in freelance is the first problem, causing a misleading air of flitting freedom, awesome independence, and surely a carefree lifestyle.
Somehow, “freelance” seems to infer, “easy,” perhaps. But, if you work for yourself, you know nothing is further from the truth.
After over 30 years of working for myself, I can assure you, neither free nor easy has anything at all to do with being a successful business. And guess what, if you’re a freelancer, a business is what you are. Sorry to break you the news!
Once you get that little, “I am a business” mantra running through your head, you can get that free and easy attitude out of the way and get to work!
So, what does it take for you to make it as a freelancer?
Don’t get me wrong, I love working for myself and always have, but it means there is actually “work” involved—and, you have to make yourself do it. You’re the boss so no one else will tell you what to do. But, yikes, no one else will tell you what to do!
So, there’s discipline on your part if you want to survive. Oh geez, the freedom you are striving to find is already getting infringed upon, isn’t it? Your business is going to mean work and discipline on your part…still up for the role?
No One Can Make Me Work Harder
I say this all the time about myself and my experience with ownership, “No one can make me work harder” than I have for my own businesses. But not everyone has that inner drive, or maybe persistence, even stubbornness, it sometimes takes to become successful.
You probably know yourself better than anyone. So think about the fact that the production of your product or service comes down to you. Without that productivity, there won’t be any sales either. It’s up to you. All YOU! Are you a go-getter or do you need someone to tell you what to do and when or how to produce everything you need to have clients?
Since it all comes down to you, think about this realistically and be sure you know you are up for the challenge.
And not only is it about your passion for what you propose to do but do you have the resources to make it happen? I’m not referring to money, although it can be a necessary resource getting started, depending on your business or industry. But, I’m also thinking about your skill set, abilities, and even education for what you are going to do as a freelancer, especially as a solopreneur! What about equipment or supplies and a proper place to work?
You’re probably already getting the picture—there are both physical and psychological barriers right off the bat. Are you starting to think things through before diving in half-cocked with one foot stuck in your ear? Good. I want you to think things through.
I want you to survive as a freelancer instead of just being a freelancer!!
So, what do you want to consider before taking the leap? Because, well, you want to make sure you ARE taking a leap and NOT a dive, right?
A Freelancer Checklist
1- Be honest with yourself. Are you disciplined enough to make yourself do the work without fail, and without sleeping in instead? Do you have the resources, including the know-how, to handle everything for yourself as a freelance business?
2- Define your freelance business. You need to get clear on exactly what you will be doing, who it’s for, how you help or serve them, and if there’s a market. Simply, if you don’t have a purpose and vision for your business, you’ll never reach a goal. Without a purpose, goals will be unclear, and you won’t ever have a target to hit for success.
3- Further definition includes your audience. Do a market analysis to understand who your prospective clients are, where they are, and how you can reach (market) them.
4- To further refine as you define your business and analyze for a viable market, do a competitive analysis. Not only will this help you identify core differentiators to establish what makes you stand out, or unique, in the marketplace, but it will help you hone in on verified customer needs.
NOTE: While knowing about potential competition and your marketplace is wise, my best advice is to make all decisions to fit you. Then proceed, head-down. Putting blinders on and taking action to make your business the best it can be, guarantees progress through the work you accomplish. You know, the better I work, the luckier I get!
5- Devise “Standard Operating Procedures” for an accurate and consistent way to get things done for your business. Set up systems for two big reasons. First, systems, (even as easy as checklists) make your life easier. Second, this helps to breakdown or identify the steps or tasks necessary to complete the actions needed to reach business goals for success. Plus, having your systems in place for things like invoices, proposals, and other regular business actions, makes you look more professional and projects a positive brand image.
6- Set high standards for yourself and your business. When you set high standards, you are always trying to do better and up your game. This translates to a better you, a better business, and happy clients. The quality of your product, whether an actual product or a service, has the biggest impact on helping you grow your business. Work to be the best at whatever it is you do for a no-fail plan of attack.
7- Experiment, evaluate, and evolve. This may be the best formula of all for business or freelance success I can share with you. As smart as you are, organized, even productive, it all won’t matter or help you grow as much as experimentation and the experience you gain as you go and learn.
Customers guide you and are not afraid to let you know what they like or what you do differently or better. Use all feedback. Evaluate whether the feedback is valuable and what from it may give you new business momentum.
Remember to try things. Experimenting and changing things up leads to new ideas and innovation. Innovation in business is a big winner and happens in every industry of every kind. When you adopt innovation in your operations, you become a coveted resource to clients.
Evaluate for Growth
Also, evaluate yourself as well as integrating customer success to improve your business. If you have a team, get input from each member at the end of a job or project, in the way of feedback, questions, or a formal evaluation as well. Every perspective you gain helps you get a more complete and accurate picture to judge from and use to find areas that need work and areas that work well.
Freelancing is a freeing way to work but it does require discipline, focus, experimentation, and action on your part. You are free to choose your clients, your hours, and what projects you work on, but you need to approach freelancing with a business mindset to find success.
At least that’s my two cents! Thoughts?
About the Author
Sue-Ann is a Content Creator for Business. Besides an obsession with original quality content creation and writing projects for businesses, she’s been playing around with a podcast, talking all things business and content, called MIX/SIZZLE&SHAKE Your Business.