Ask and You Might Receive

Nearly all Freelancers are feeling the pain of the long slog through the sluggish economy.  Merely treading water is now considered a victory.  Even those fortunate  enough to have maintained robust billings are sensitive to the cash flow problems of their customers and fellow business owners.  Consequently,  the time is ripe to ask for a better deal,  for everything.  You may be pleasantly surprised at what people will do to keep your business.  To get the ball rolling,  all you’ll need are some creativity and moxie.

You’ll also need to remember that your goal is to both save money and build mutually beneficial business relationships,  especially when approaching fellow Freelancers or other small business owners.  Be assertive,  but considerate and respectful.  Don’t try to squeeze someone whose business may be hurting.  Think of benefits that will accrue to the other party and communicate that as you present your proposition.

The other party will appreciate that you’ve thought of their interests as well as you own,  so no matter what,  you’re likely to be seen in a positive light.  Even if you are unable to get what you want,  you’ll never lose by asking.  As they say,  it’s just business.

  • Think about bartering products or services.  What do you sell or do that suppliers and service providers might value for their businesses?  HR or IT services?  Graphics or PR or landscaping?  You’ll never know until you ask the question and get the dialogue started.  Make sure the exchange is of equivalent perceived value,  so that no one feels short-changed.
  • If you rent an office,  begin preparations now to campaign for a rent roll-back.  Commercial space is plentiful and most landlords want to keep a good tenant.  Be sure to pay your rent on time and otherwise cast yourself in a favorable light.  Get information on rents for comparable spaces in your area and determine what would be reasonable to pay for yours in the current economic climate.  Are their problems in the building?  If so,  make a list so that you can more effectively negotiate with your landlord at lease renewal time. 
  • When it’s time to advertise,  ask for a discount (try 10 %).  You’ll be more successful if the ad is larger and/or if you place multiple ads with that publication.  Ask also if you can be notified when remnant space is available,  which will save even more money.  You must be flexible and prepared to act quickly when taking remnant advertising space.  You might even spend more than you anticipated.  In exchange,  you just might get an eye-popping half page ad for the price of a quarter page.
  • Think about the products and services that you use all the time when doing business.  Do you ship items on a regular basis?  Do you travel frequently and stay at the same hotel?  If so,  then it’s time to ask for a loyalty or volume discount.  Have information about how often you use the service/product and how much you spend at the ready,  to support your case.
  • To preserve your cash flow,  request more flexible payment terms from suppliers and service providers.  Ask for 45-60 day terms,  or ask to pay half of the balance in 30 days and the remainder at 60 days.  The other party may not love it,  but the terms may nevertheless be extended in an effort to keep you as a customer.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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