Managing a freelance business does not have to be difficult. Some things make it different from other entrepreneurial ventures, but it is not that unfamiliar to require you to adopt methods that are not compatible with your business instincts. If you invest time and effort, success won’t be out of reach.
Here are some pointers on how to manage your freelance business. These may sound simple and like common sense, but you probably haven’t thought of them. Or, you don’t realize how they make sense in running your day-to-day operations.
- Write a plan
You likely think this one’s a no-brainer, everyone starts a business with a plan, right?. Wrong. Not everybody realizes the importance of having a written plan. They may have ideas in mind, but they don’t necessarily come up with a detailed plan on how to execute those ideas.
It’s essential to write a plan because it doesn’t only serve as a guide on how you do things. A written plan of action allows you to evaluate if the things you intend to do are doable. It lets you see the bigger picture you could be missing if you only mentally examine your intentions.
Your plan should include specific goals and objectives, strategies, details on how you intend to finance the venture as well as ideas on marketing and sales. It should also have details of the pricing schemes and projections for expected expenses and earnings.
Additionally, you need to have contingency plans. Anticipate the possible problems your business might encounter. Don’t be caught off-guard as you stumble upon an issue you hadn’t thought of. For example, you need to have a plan in case you are accused of stealing somebody’s intellectual property.
- Get the right tools for the job
After outlining the things you intend to do for your business, it’s time to obtain the tools you need to provide your freelance services efficiently. These tools include both hardware and software. Do some research on reliable but affordable computers. Likewise, you need to carefully examine the apps or software tools needed for your business.
Look at the entirety of your business as you search for tools. You need something like Freshbooks for your accounting, for example. For project and task management, consider getting Trello, ProofHub, or GanttPro. You can supplement these project management apps with a time tracker like Toggl.
For marketing and social media management, you could use Hootsuite, Social Clout, or Feedly. Your business may also find email marketing apps like MailChimp and HubSpot valuable. Be meticulous with the marketing tools you choose, as they play a significant role in finding clients.
Invest in a good online collaboration and communication platform. You may encounter projects that require the collaborative endeavor of multiple freelancers. It’s going to be easier to complete projects if you have a system that lets you share and discuss files while chatting or video conferencing.
- Organize your processes
Having the right apps or software tools doesn’t always equate to becoming well-organized. You have to actively devise procedures and protocols for how to do things efficiently. For example, you need to come up with a systematic way of handling client orders and output submissions.
Streamline everything to avoid bottlenecks and submission issues. Study your interactions with clients, so you can formulate a sensible way of queueing their orders and working on their completion or fulfillment. Also, see to it that your system eliminates delays and ensures that there is no miscommunication of the project details.
Don’t forget to integrate your chosen software tools in your processes. You might find some tasks that can be automated fully or partially. You can use forms, for example, to process orders and reflect the details in the invoicing.
- Always stay updated with what is happening with your business
As a manager, you are expected to keep abreast of what’s going on in your business. But how exactly do you do this? The key is to use the right business tools. To be specific, it is advisable to use cloud-based management solutions.
With the help of cloud computing, you can access all the information you need about your business and even control it remotely. You can get real-time information to make informed decisions that will allow you to address emerging problems promptly.
By the way, being updated is not limited to the internal affairs of your business. You also have to be mindful of external developments that can affect your operations. These include legal and regulatory changes as well as the actions of your competitors.
- Learn to be proactive in dealing with changes and problems
To be proactive, you have to be knowledgeable about the things that affect your company. You need to develop a sense of inquisitiveness, not being satisfied with the basic facts presented to you.
Dig deeper and understand situations better by asking questions and looking at what others are doing in response to developments or problems in your industry. For example, you can’t just decide to lower the prices of your services because you heard that your competitors are engaging in a price war.
Assess circumstances meticulously. There may be details that can help you formulate a better reaction to a problem. You don’t have to go with the flow if you can offer something better. You might be surprised by the gains you get from responding differently to a problem.
- Evaluate your progress and aim for growth
Lastly, make it a habit to assess how your business is doing. You should see progress in different aspects. Your revenues and profit should be increasing. The number of clients should be rising.
Never settle for “flat growth”. A business that stagnates is one that is bound to fail. This is particularly true for freelancers. If freelancing ends in stagnation, you are no better off than a typical struggling employee.
There will always be challenges in running a business, but these shouldn’t be too difficult to overcome if you know what you are doing. That’s why you need to have a plan, a sense of organization, the right tools, proactive thinking, and a growth mindset. Become a better freelance businessperson by keeping in mind these points.