Any freelancer will tell you that there are simply not enough hours in the day to do it all. Whether it’s managing the existing business or pitching for new business, it’s understandable that freelancers have a long wish list of things they would love to spend time on when the opportunity arises. Although that moment rarely arises, and so the cycle continues. As the new year approaches, why not commit to rounding off those 4 key things that you don’t spend enough time on. You know what those 4 things are, don’t you? So let’s not push them back another moment, and review why they’re so important to prioritize today and in the future. Let’s get into it.
1. Seamless brand cohesion
Do you have a quiet cringing moment when you see your old logo on your website or the old color scheme plastered all over your business cards and collateral? You know that it’s time you brought some order to your brand, but is this more important than all your other commitments? The short answer – yes. It’s time to bring some cohesion to your branding so that you are putting forward a united presence that will create the impact you need as a sole trader. Start with your invoicing template, which you can get from MYOB, as this is an area where you want to instill confidence and be readily recognized by the accounts teams who receive your invoice. If your clients are expected to place their money and faith in your professional services, you want to communicate your professionalism through all communication and administrative channels.
Beyond that, create an inventory list of all the branding touchpoints that exist for your business, and set about changing them systematically so that you have a fresh on-brand presence. How can you be taken seriously if your clients don’t have any idea who you are and what your brand is supposed to represent? Take your branding seriously, because your clients are paying attention.
2. Reviewing and planning
Have you blacked out a week to plan your strategy for the next quarter? Likely not, as freelancers often find themselves at the beck and call of clients across all priorities. The importance of business planning is so critical, and will spell the fate of your business as an opportunity can only be seen and leveraged when working on your business and not in your business. Some successful freelancers actually treat their own business as one of their clients, allocating time to business development and planning for the future. If this is what you need to do to get some traction, it might be time to meet your newest client… you!
If you have no idea where to start, simply try and define your business goals for the year and then scale it back into manageable tasks and steps that will get you closer to that once-unattainable goal. Make sure your planning also includes reviewing the wins and losses you have encountered, as there are invaluable learnings here.
3. Establish a network of partners and suppliers
You can’t be everything to everyone, even if your clients do believe you can and should solve it all! This is why you should have a professional network of partners and suppliers that you can have on hand to complete work that your client needs, or to lead share within a community of like-minded sole traders that understand how to take care of that client. If you specialize in social media, have a graphic designer that you trust and like to work with so you can cater to the full needs of your client without trying to do it yourself. If you’re a web developer, engage with the photographer so that you can populate your websites with beautiful content. Take a moment to ponder all of your peers in the market, and think about who of these people can assist with your growth plans and client expectations. These complementary partnerships will be a lifesaver to you and your freelance business. Relationships of this nature also ensure that you are not honing in on only one type of client, with varied industries passing your desk and widening your experience.
4. Sort out your finance solution
Accounting software is an area that not enough freelancers are proficient in, perhaps because they believe they are not quite big enough for it, but too big that manual handling is not the answer. The fact is, there are so many other options for small or sole proprietaries. It doesn’t matter how many clients you have or how many invoices or expenses you are generating, this is an area that will also be a time-saver in the long run. If you’re not sure where to start, engage your freelance community to see what works for them and do some trial periods to test the processes before you commit to anything. Review these solutions after two to three months and determine how much time you have saved, how your accuracy has improved, and decide whether you want to pursue this.
If your head is spinning with all the weird and wonderful concepts and procedures you can bring to your business, take a beat and decide what needs to come first of these four tasks. It’s not conceivable that you can establish these significant changes in one month, and so it might be more of an annual goal that you can chip away to. Sustainable change does not and should not happen overnight.
The life of a sole trader can be overwhelming at times, and so it’s necessary that you carve time out of your busy schedule to prioritize whatever is going to get you ahead in a sustainable way. Clients always take priority, no one is denying that. Although you can be much more generous in awarding your freelancing business the development and idea generation it requires. Lastly, remember to celebrate the wins that are surely stacked high, as you are living a brave life that should be acknowledged regularly.