Think about Being a Freelancer
Sometimes called a solopreneur, a freelancer is a type of entrepreneur who starts and runs a business for themselves. They’re hired by other people or other businesses to work on a contract basis. Rather than being permanently employed by one company, a freelancer can work for different companies at the same or different times.
There are many benefits to freelancing:
- Start a business with very little money
- Choose your place to work and the work that you truly love
- Choose your clients, the services or products you want to supply
- Enjoy flexibility, freedom, and focus
- Unlock unlimited earning potential
However, freelancers have some basic needs:
- Well-priced, desirable solutions
- Recurring revenue streams
- A repeatable system for attracting, converting clients and keeping them happy
Depending on cultural background and community, freelancers may be experiencing a lot of pressure or support related to entrepreneurship. It is important to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. So here are some tips:
- Develop techniques motivated by yourself
- Tackle hard things or mission critical things first and get them done
- Avoid time buffer activities, like social media, which are not producing results
- Check you mail or inbox sparingly, and keep your browser tabs tidy
- Manage your time and energy, you need time to do deep work without interruption
- Shake things up, move your body, take a walk every now and then
- Always have a contingency plan
It is important to consider how much you can specialize. When in doubt, specialize more than you think you should and way more than you think you need to. It is still great to take the oddball project and learn new things, but strive to specialize, and attract really interesting clients who want exactly what you only can deliver flawlessly.
Ideas are free but execution is key.
- First step is turning our interests into ideas. If you have too many interests, gain deeper clarity and confidence in your decision to pick just one and run with it.
- Second, turn those ideas into intentions, by declaring your 5-year goals, 1-year goals, 1-month goals, and 1-week goals. Ask yourself what is the immediate best next step that you can get done this week or month that will make those longer term goals inevitable, and then focus your attention on making sure you get that task done.
- Third, turn intentions into actions. Acting consistently matters. Adjust your approach when needed, and continue to march towards those long term goals.
- Fourth, get rid of your other less valuable and less exciting ideas. Some ideas are not worth chasing, let them go.
Business ownership is really an important way to build wealth. You can make your business exactly what you wanted to be. You have the ability to set up a business that aligns with your values. What kind of legacy do you want? That leads you to what type of business you want to start. Give yourself a powerful description using attributes that represent how you want to show up at work every day. You strengthen your commitment when you really get ready to start your business, and you put intense effort into making it successful.
Innovative people and entrepreneurs find the easiest possible way to get something done where they find the most talented person to help them get it done. You don’t have to learn how to do everything, but you do have to learn how to get everything done. It’s really valuable to delegate things you’re not great at or excited about to someone who’s skilled and loves to do them.
Don’t burn out. Think ahead about avoiding the temptation to work like a superhero all day and night and then crash. Make time to take care of yourself every day and establish good habits from the very beginning.
Feel of Failure
There might by three big things in your way as you start freelancing: fear, perfectionism, and procrastination. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be truly excellent and for many of us that advice has paid off in our careers. Being a freelancer, fear of failure may be at the top of the list of things that are holding you back.
Fear of failure comes in the form of perfectionism and procrastination. If you’re having trouble getting started on projects or deciding that they’re good enough to be called done. They can grind your business to a halt. Perfection is rarely the goal of business. You don’t have to be perfect every time to be successful. Things can usually be improved over time. Failure is a temporary situation and it is not fatal.
Freelancers need to learn to reduce complexity. As one person instead of a huge team with deep financial resources, you’ll need to find ways to simplify your approach to projects wherever possible and reduce time cost and complexity from your services.
Impostor syndrome happens when you worry about someone finding out that you are not a real company or a real expert in their field. If someone else is doing what you were doing, so what? You will do things your way, and the people who value the way you do those things will find their way to you.
Developing Your Services
The steps of developing your services and designing a solution:
- Step 1, find a problem with a hungry audience
- Step 2, understand and size the market
- Step 3, spy on the competition
- Step 4, design your solution
Next we let’s go through each of them one by one:
Problem of Audience
Complaints are a goldmine for business opportunities. When you find people complaining, there may be a very interesting problem that you can solve and charge money for. Don’t fall into the trap of designing a complicated business because you have specific skills and because it’s technically possible. If there’s no burning need on the customer side, they’re not opening their wallets to pay until they do need it. It is crucial to build the right thing for the right person at the right time.
People buy, because they want more time, more money, better health, better happiness, better relationships, etc. People buy the promise of transformation. To a buyer, it doesn’t really matter how they get the result, as long as they believe they will be more satisfied with the results than they are today.
Who are your ideal customers, and how can you deliver a believable and attractive, irresistible transformation? The answer to this question is to really dig in and build a target persona of your ideal customer. You need to research your customer. The persona shall include a nice picture, problem statement, demographics, psycho-graphics, geography, occupations, skills or affiliations.
Understand the Market
The market is a broad term encompassing all of the buyers and sellers for a particular product or service. Market may not be your total control, but you can take some steps to guess trends, diversify your products wisely, and develop some long term buyer relationships.
Now sellers can market and sell their products through different channels. All of these distribution and sales channels and the geographic limits of your business should be considered when analyzing your market. You want to understand all the dynamics happening in the marketing and selling of products and services in your particular focus market.
One way that is done is by doing a market sizing. Market sizing answers the questions like:
- How big is the audience for this type of product or service?
- How fast is that market growing?
In general, you want to be sure that you are getting into a business in an industry that has good momentum and growth potential. There’s two ways of analyzing the market:
If you capture that market share, what’s the total potential revenue for your company?
1) charge a reasonable price for your product
2) secure a reasonable number of clients who are willing to pay for it,
can you reach that total potential revenue?
Both analysis are used, but most business analysts consider a bottoms-up analysis is more reasonable. This process helps you weed out ideas that probably won’t be great businesses. It also helps us discover interesting opportunities to grow our businesses.
Once a market is hot and people are talking about it, you can bet that many other freelancers will start to chase clients and offer solutions in the space. So you’ve got to be good at trend spotting. This requires you to keep your skills sharp continuously learning about new technologies, policy changes, and trends in your market.
|At the _____ of a trend|
|beginning||You may be the only one who knows about it.|
It may be hard to convince clients that they need it.
|peak||Customers are talking about the trend and are actively searching for solution providers.|
Besides you, there will be many other providers to choose from.
|end||Customers interests will be declining.|
Competitors will be shifting their resources to providing different services.
You need to understand your competitors in order to plan ways to beat them:
- Search like a customer, go online and do a search for your specialty and the name of your location, then see what types of results pop up.
- Mystery shop the competition and find out what they offer at what price.
- Form a SWOT analysis for each of competitors.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats:
|Strengths||What are they good at?|
|Weaknesses||What are they bad at?|
|Opportunities||How could they expand?|
|Threats||What factors could harm them?|
Sometimes, people say that they can’t find any competitors. NFinding a good number of competitors in your research is actually a good sign, which means you’re likely to be able to make money in this space, if you can deliver a solution that is better, faster, or cheaper than others. After you understand your competitors better, build a SWOT analysis for yourself. What are your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
Design Your Solution
We’re working on a solution that may or may not be a product, call it a minimum viable product. We try to provide to a client so they will turn into buyers. A minimum viable product is quick to launch and done fast, it shall address a top of mind pain points and a client will be willing to pay something for it.
- What results / transformation and benefits will customers get?
- What are the details of the solution?
- How can you remove risk of trying?
Strive for progress over perfection, and get feedback from customers.
A business plan is essentially a blueprint for your business. You’ll need a solid foundation for your business. The business plan documents all of the factors you need to know, to start your business right. Expect to revisit your business plan to make sure the assumptions you made still hold true. And the results of your business are at or above your plan.
The US Small Business Administration recommends nine topics to cover in a business plan:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing and sales
- Funding request
- Financial projections
Your business plan as a freelancer can be a bit simpler at first, it is OK to include a company description, market analysis, service or product line, marketing and sales, and financial projections. Later when you want to expand your business, you can expand the business plan too, before sharing it with bankers, partners or investors.
When you build a business plan, you list a lot of assumptions, Mostly at the beginning, those are guesses. In order to make more intelligent guesses, you’ll need to do a lot of research about how businesses similar to yours operate. Update your business plan as you test your assumptions, discover new research, and more efficient ways of doing business.
For more on Plan a Successful Freelancing Business, please refer to the wonderful course here https://www.coursera.org/learn/freelancing-business
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