So you want to be independent, right? Be a freelancer. Work on your own terms. Well, not so fast! Freelancers today face many challenges, but when successful the experience can be very rewarding. So let’s dive in and accept the difficulties and look at the possible challenges we may encounter along the way.
1 Finding new clients
The number 1 priority of every new business is always to find new clients. You must find a systematic way to constantly increase your customer base, and allow your business to grow. Without new clients there will be no new revenue and your business won’t survive. So, although finding new clients may not be related in any way to the service you provide, it will usually consume a sizeable amount of your time. Be prepared for it, embrace it, and don’t fear it! Every freelancer must be a mini-marketer, a mini-salesman. It’s better to accept it early.
2 Pricing your work
As a freelancer, one of the greatest difficulties is putting a price-tag to what you deliver. Put a high price-tag, and the client may run away. Make the price too low, and you may end up on the verge on bankruptcy. You must spend time to understand your market, your value proposition, and the perceived value of your services. Check comparable services, compare pricing and try to understand what is your unique value proposition. A unique value proposition will allow you to raise prices and become a premium service provider. And a premium provider can usually charge higher prices – resulting in more profits for you!
3 Getting some free time
Freelancers are always busy doing their work. Once they get a new project they get super-excited and spend a lot of time on it. But you must make room for some free time for yourself. Allow time to make a recap of last month’s new deals and ongoing deals and evaluate where your business is headed. Get some free time for your family and friends. You don’t live just to work, do you?
4 Chasing payments
As clients start paying for your services, one thing you must do is make sure all payments are paid on time and chase clients that don’t do so. That may eat a sizeable chunk of your time. Try to make a schedule around this job, so that on the one hand you don’t work on that every day, but on the other hand make sure no payments are lost.
5 Retaining customers
As a service provider, a major priority is to retain existing customers that have already enjoyed your services and paid you. Existing customers can provide a great ongoing revenue stream as they require more and more of your services, and can serve as a great growth engine by referrals (tell them to refer you!). Never forget to thank and nurture your existing customers.
6 Keeping track of communications and tasks
As you grow bigger and have to make several phone calls every day, you may lose track of your communications with your clients and forget which task needs to be done next. You must get organized with your clients and return calls on time. A great way to track these communications may be using a simple spreadsheet. Later on, when a spreadsheet isn’t enough, you may need a more powerful system that will allow you to set reminders and appointments for your customers, store in it all the necessary files and e-mails, and serve as a large smart repository of client information. You may try Yoman, a simple and free contact manager that looks like a spreadsheet, but provides much more.
7 Hitting deadlines
Another challenge of freelancers is getting the job done on time. The customer always thinks that he’s your only customer. So you’re probably working on his stuff all day. But that’s not so, and you have to juggle between the multiple requirements from multiple clients and provide all services to all clients on time. You must get used to using a calendar, such as Google Calendar or arrange your reminders and meetings using a contact manager.
8 Getting up-to-date
As a service provider, you must provide great service to all clients. So you must always be an expert in your field and provide valuable services using top-notch technologies. To do that, you must always get yourself up-to-date on news in your industry and find new up-to-date tools to deliver your services. Never underestimate the efforts required here! In today’s world things change fast and you must keep yourself updated.
9 Saying no
One of the most difficult tasks facing freelancers, especially new ones, is saying NO to new clients. It is very difficult to refuse to receive certain payments. After all, your business relies on your clients, right? But sometimes, having no clients is better than having bad clients. You must always focus on tasks that are relevant to your expertise, in which you can deliver great services. Only this will provide satisfied customers, and drive future expansion. So if a client does not seem like a good fit for you, you must say no! If the work required does not seem to fit with the price he/she wants to pay, also you must refuse to take the work, or you’d be losing money overall.
10 Keeping motivated
Especially on the early days, it is super-important to keep the faith. All new businesses start with 0 clients and $0 of revenue. There’s nothing new about that. And many successful new businesses start slow. Revenue start accumulating month-to-month, until you reach profitability a few months later, or even after a year. Never lose the faith! Always look into the future and look for new opportunities, new clients, new services you can provide. It is your business, keep the faith and do what it takes to sustain it!
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