Monday, April 11, 2005

How to be Patient While You Grow Your Freelance Biz

Growing a freelance business – or any business for that matter – takes time. Many freelancers get discouraged long before they give their business a chance to succeed. Following are three things you can practice to keep you patient while you grow your business.

1) Take Consistent Action: Many freelancers will do one mailing, make a few phone calls, or send out some emails and then sit back and wait to see what happens. Mistake. Why?

Rarely does one ad, a few phone calls or some emails garner business. It takes consistent action over a period of time to yield assignments. If you get in the habit of making a certain number of contacts a day, week, month, etc., before you know it, you will be consistently working.

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2) Build a Secondary Stream of Income: For example, if your specialty is medical editing, go after general editing and copyediting assignments as well. Some other ideas for branching out includes giving medical editing/copyediting workshops (onllne and/or off); building medical editing/copyediting websites, etc.

Having a specialty is great. In fact, I highly recommend it; but building a secondary market is simply smart business. If that second stream piggybacks off your primary specialty, great. If not, that’s okay, but try to stay in the same genre, eg, don’t go out and open a dress shop and try to market the two together.

3) Set Goals: One sure way to harness patience is to set and monitor goals. If you are consistently meeting goals, it will keep you pumped to continue. If you’re not meeting goals, then you may need to revamp your marketing strategy.

Caution: Be sure to give your marketing time to work. Remember, a target has to see your ad 7 to 28 times, depending on which source you cite, before they will act. Beyond this, they have to be in the market for what you’re offering, your prices have to be within their budget, your skill set has to match, etc. In other words, a confluence of factors have to converge before a target will reach out to you. This takes time.

Observation: I’ve dispensed a lot of small business advice over the last 7 years, and the number one thing I’ve noticed that all small business owners (freelancers) have in common is impatience. This tends to be especially true for those who’ve been in business 5 years or less.

I had a great business mentor who said to me once: The first 3 years, you are just greasing the pipes. After that, business will not be “quite” so hard to come by. It will still be hard, but you won’t have to work nearly as hard for every sale. I always remember this when I get frustrated.

Probably the number one lesson I’ve learned as a small business owner is that marketing must become a constant. You can NEVER stop because as soon as you think you’ve got enough business, this contract falls through, that client goes bankrupt and a dependable, long-time client chooses another provider.

Before you know it, you are starved for business. However, if you market all the time – you keep new business flowing in and the dry spells come farther and farther apart.

In closing, all of the above keep you busy doing, instead of waiting. If you’re setting and monitoring goals, building a secondary stream of income and consistently marketing, you’ll barely notice when the phone is not ringing because you’ll be busy preparing for when it does!****************************************************************************
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