Work out: I have this as #1 because I neglected my health when I started freelancing until I fell sick and realized that without being healthy, I didn’t have a business.
Embrace a business mindset: If you started freelancing as a side hustle, it’s easy to treat it as a hobby and less like a business. This will hurt you. You are a business, act like one.
Present yourself as a brand: When you present yourself/your business as a brand, not only do you get to command much higher rates, you are respected and you eliminate your competition in the mind of your ideal consumers.
Be firm: Don’t be a push over, this almost drowned my career- mainly because I have a reserved personality. Speak your mind and don’t let clients troll all over you.
Be humble: That said, don’t be an ass, dick, arrogant or any of those things. Be truly humble.
Focus: Focus should drive your brand. In regards to what you offer, what you stand for, the work you deliver, projects you’re currently working on, clients you are pursuing, focus, focus, focus.
Admit you don’t know everything: Web designers could relate to this. Although it’s good to have the problem-solving attitude, sometimes it just saves time by admitting you don’t know everything. You will be surprised your clients will actually appreciate (and trust you more) for this. It will also save you tons of time “researching”.
Be thirsty for knowledge: This came easy for me but I didn’t acknowledge it until later. But constantly “sharpening” your brain with your industry trends, reading books, watching TED talks, reading blogs regularly, asking questions, answering questions etc are all part of enhancing your knowledge and will set you on a path to be a specialist that you are.
Say NO: Back to the focus point on #6, sometimes a client will make a request that’s out of your focus range- say NO. This is hard to do especially if you don’t have any projects/income flowing. Do it anyway. It’s a test 🙂
(Almost) Never do work for free: To begin with it might be wise to do a few “free” projects to build your reputation and get some feedback, but that’s all that will be. From then on respect yourself and your knowledge and charge accordingly for your services.
Always have a contract: I lost over $4,000 for lack of a contract so I say this from a place of deep pain. Although I decided to get over that ordeal and forgive that client (though I will never work with them again) it still hurts to date.
80/20 client rule: Don’t let a client control 80% of your income. Should they drop the project, it will sting! Balance.
Set work hours: Goes back to #2 Business Mindset. Set working hours and stick to them. Use time tracker software even on yourself. I currently use Time Doctor- always have but there’s many others out there. It will help with your productivity.
Save money: You don’t want to take on a project because you’re desperate for money. Save and get to pick the clients you work with.
Save more so you can pay your taxes: Easy to forget about taxes, but you gotta pay them. Back to #2 Business Mindset. It hurts but pay up!
Being your own boss means now you have employees to manage: This is a real challenge. It helps to select the right team members. If you sense red flags early on in the relationship- drop them. That said, be patient and cut your best team members some slack.
Your client is your new boss: You started your business because you wanted to be your own boss- that doesn’t entirely work that way. Your client is now your new boss. Luckily, you get to dictate the terms of your relationship- and unlike other boss-employee relationships, you can fire this “boss” if they start being too much.
Arm yourself with time-saving tools: You quickly realize that you are the CEO, Business Manger, Project Manager, Accountant, Marketing Manager, Social Media Manager etc etc, today, there are tools for almost anything business related- take time to research and use them. Don’t be cheap either, pay for tools that will help you save time, it’s an investment worth protecting.
Take time off (real time off): Shut down your engines, notify your clients well ahead of time, set your vacation email auto-responder and take real time off. You deserve it.
Project doesn’t start until the deposit has cleared: The excitement that comes from landing a new client can overshadow the fact that you do this for the money. Don’t start till the money is in your account. No exceptions. If a client plays around with this rule, drop ’em like they hot!
Final deliverable is not available until final payment has cleared: Similar to above rule, sites don’t go live till payments clear- unless they are on my own server which I have full control over. Again, this comes from a place of deep pain as I’ve lost a couple grands on this mistake.
Get out & network: It’s easy when you’re working online especially with the existence of social media to forget that real people exist lol, seriously get out and network, not only is this good for your business, it’s good for your soul. As humans we thrive from interactions, and this come from an introvert 🙂
Work with goals: Set goals (big, scary, hairy, goals) achieve them then go on to the next one! It’s the only way to grow. It also boosts your confidence over time.
It’s going to be OK: Sometimes in the frenzy of running your business, things get crazy and doubt creeps up. Seriously, it’s not the end of the world. In the end, things have a way of fixing themselves, as long as you do your part, it’s all going to be ok. Just relax! Or refer to #1 (Work out)
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