Are you ready for your good fortune?
Could your business handle an influx of new clients?
A magical thing happened to one of my coaching clients. In one week, her freelance business was recommended to four different companies, and two hired her on the spot.
She was ecstatic. This was what she wanted (and what her bank account desperately needed). These were big companies and the gigs were great work.
And then she went into a panic.
Each of the projects she was hired for was massive. Each would be a full-time job for at least three weeks. Both had tight deadlines, too, so she couldn’t take care of them sequentially.
For the next month, everything that wasn’t project-related went by the wayside. Marketing, work for smaller clients, paperwork, healthy meals, gym, socializing, laundry.
My client did a stellar job on both projects.
But then they were over.
After taking a week to recover from her exhaustion, she came out of her bunker and took stock of how things stood.
Things stood rather badly.
There were queries from potential clients that went unanswered. There were late bills. Her marketing was derailed. A small client she had neglected wrote her an unhappy note, canceling her retainer.
Growing pains are no laughing matter for a freelancer.
But there are ways to disaster-proof the growth process. Here are four steps to take before you’re overwhelmed by good fortune:
Practice a mindset shift
I’m about to catch some flack about this, but here goes. No matter how much client work you have, the first hour of your workday should be spent on business-y things. Like responding to calls and emails. Doing some marketing. Paying taxes.
You are the business owner and you have a duty to your business to run it. It is not a hobby, and it is no less important than your clients’ projects. Besides, you’ll be of no use to your clients if your business goes under.
Begin to audit your time
Track your time for a couple of weeks (and don’t cheat to make the record look better to yourself! ...not that I’ve ever done that…). It’ll be eye-opening. No matter how aware you think you are of where your time goes, you’ll get a mountain of new insights.
At the end of these two weeks, schedule an uninterrupted 2-hour block and spend it in a place that you enjoy hanging out in (Cafe? Public garden? Your uncluttered guest bedroom?).
Go over your recorded time and list all the tasks you’re doing, then prioritize them.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about each freelance-related task:
Will it bring me new business? (Phone calls to prospects and referral sources are an emphatic “YES!” Designing new business cards is pretty much a “no”).
What will happen if I stop doing this task?
How essential is it that I do this myself?
Is there a way to automate this task?
Discard everything that is unnecessary
You’ll often find that you have a bunch of tasks you’re doing because you “should.” Why? Maybe it’s something you read in a blog post titled 15 Ways To Become A Successful Freelancer. Or maybe it’s ingrained in you (like, if you start a book, you have to finish it. Says who?).
For a while, I was zealous about content marketing, keeping a rigorous LinkedIn posting schedule. I’d post once a week, rain, shine, vacation, or client deadline. It took soooo much time and effort.
Yes, I did get clients from posting on LinkedIn. But when I did an audit, I realized that most of my clients were coming from other marketing efforts.
So I stopped posting on LinkedIn. The world didn’t crash down around me, and I continued to find steady work.
Because I refocused my efforts on what was actually bringing new clients (and stopped doing something that I thought should be part of my marketing plan), my income went up.
Systemize and Automate
A significant percentage of what we do - regardless of what our business is - is the same. We ask clients the same questions during intake. We have recurring expenses. And so on. Recognizing these patterns and creating templates, files, and standard operating procedures will free up a chunk of time.
Similarly, even if you’re not a tech maven, there are some simple efficiencies that you can introduce into your work. For example, include a link to your scheduling app in your signature block (Calendly is awesome. And free). You’ll save yourself a lot of back-and-forth emails scheduling calls and meetings.
Down the road….delegate
One of the entrepreneurial myths is that we have to do everything ourselves. While you have more time than money, this may be a prudent strategy. But it’s also a good idea to think about what you could be delegating down the road and taking small steps towards making it happen.
So even if you’re not in a position to hire help right now, start practicing the idea of having a virtual assistant. Check out virtual assistant services to see what kinds of things you could be delegating. Then create a list of the things you could have other people help you with. This way, when you actually have more income than time, you’ll know what to do.
Follow these steps, and you’ll be all set when the trickle of clients turns into a gusher.
Need to get unstuck (or just get moving) in your business?
Come join us in our new group coaching program. We’ve both found that nothing moves the needle more than some guided focus, direction, and accountability. We’d love to have you ;)