Wednesday, June 14, 2006

1 of the 3 Most Common Mistakes Freelancers Make (& How to Remedy It)

This week, I'll start tackling some of the topics mentioned in my May 25th post.

The original title of this post was The 3 Most Common Mistakes Freelancers Make & How to Avoid Them. I changed it to"1 of the 3 Most Common Mistakes Freelancers Make (& How to Remedy It) because this first mistake must be digested, ingested, internalized and ACTED upon because everything else flows from it. On Tuesday, I will cover the other two mistakes, but today, I will focus on this first one.

This morning, I attended a conference given at my local Chamber of Commerce. It was entitled, How to Bring Your Business to the Next Level. The reason I mention it is that the speaker covered several points that tie in with the 3 most common mistakes freelancers make. It is, to use the speaker's terms: Not Developing a "Company" Vision.

Most freelancers start out with various reasons for wanting to strike out on their own -- more time with family, more control over time, less commuting, etc. So, they say, "I want to freelance." Well, what you're really doing is starting a business. And, any business has to have a company vision.

But, "that's for big corporations," you say. NOT! Every for-profit business entity needs a company vision. You exponentially increase your chance of success with one, and decrease your chance of success without one. Why?


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A company vision forces you to dig deep to find out where you want to take your company. Even if your goal is as simple as "make $500 a week," a vision will force you to crystallize where you want to be and, more importantly, why.

I know this may sound like big biz, corporate mumbo jumbo, but trust me -- as someone who's had two businesses in the last 10 years -- it's these "intangibles" (eg, Corporate Vision Statement, Company Mission Statement, etc.) that lead to the "tangibles" (ie, writing a business plan, doing a SWOT Analysis, creating a marketing plan, etc.).

I always overlooked the intangibles and looking back realized that if I had implemented even a quarter of what I now know, I would be splitting my time between two successful businesses.

FYI, a SWOT Analysis is where you analyze the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats of/to your business. From this you will be able to "identify critical success factors," eg, what are the keys to success for your business. From this will flow your marketing plan, eg, who to target, where, when, why, how, etc.

After identifying and analyzing all of this information you will be able to "Set Goals" for your freelance business (make sure all goals are measureable). Eg, "increase revenue" is too general of a goal. Try, add two new clients a month for the next 6 months. This gives you something concrete to focus on, a specific measure around which to build a marketing plan, etc.

As you can see, one measure builds on the next. Skipping one is like trying to build a house without a foundation. So, even though you are "just a freelance writer trying to make a living" you will have a much better chance of success if you take the time to do this type of critical thinking up front.

My mission statement for is to "help editorial and creative professionals earn a living as freelancers." Everything I talk about, write about, promote, etc., is centered around that. This type of laser focus is what you will need to succeed as a freelancer -- along with a concrete plan to get there.

Good luck, and feel free to send in your questions about how to go about implementing any of these ideas. Your questions/comments will be answered in this blog so that all may gain from the insight offered (you can remain anonymous if you wish; I will also post a link to your site/blog).

Y. Black, Publisher

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