This week we’ll consider where you’d like to take your business, what you’d like it to look like and how you’d like it to operate. Every journey has a destination or goal. The journey of your business should not be random; it deserves careful thought and planning. Reserve some quiet time to think about the journey of your Freelance venture. You may want to start by reviewing where you’ve been.
Which kinds of clients and assignments give you the most fulfillment? Which let your talents shine and/or bring in the most money? What competencies have you learned along the way? What has taught you to become wiser and more confident? What were your successes and what would you like to do better next time, or maybe avoid altogether? Take stock and make a plan for the New Year.
Resolve to develop business goals and strategies
This sounds obvious, but we all know that it’s very easy to get totally caught up in just trying to find clients and get paid, getting tunnel vision. We become like the hamster in a wheel, busy–busy running in circles, without giving adequate thought to our actions and following a road map. As a result, we can be going nowhere fast.
Start this year by nurturing yourself and taking time to reflect on what has transpired over the past year or two and acknowledging how you feel about it. Did you set goals for your business? Were they realistic for you? Which goals did you achieve and how did that occur? Re-evaluate the direction it makes sense for your business to take and brainstorm strategies that you can enact (alone or with the help of colleagues) to bring it there.
Planning is the only way to create a successful business venture. Set your direction and develop SMART goals : Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. Next devise strategies, the path you will take to reach the goal. Follow through with action plans (with dates attached), to keep you moving forward and on schedule. Revisit your goals in three months and assess what is working, what needs tweaking and what should be jettisoned.
Resolve to reaffirm your business model
The business model is the framework by which the business functions as a business: the products and services that are offered; by what methods, in what location and by whom products and services are delivered to customers; how the business will attract and retain customers; the length of the sales cycle; and how and when payment for products and services will be made. Is your business model operating effectively? In 2012, take steps to ensure that your operation functions like a well-oiled machine.
For Freelance consultants, the system of outreach to potential clients is often a sticking point. Periodic review should be given to the products and services offered and how they are packaged, presented, delivered and priced. Talking with trusted clients is a good way to get feedback on your business model. If you’re a LinkedIn member, visit the Answers Forum and put questions out to your peers. You will likely receive much useful information.
Finally, review how you typically obtain clients and prospects. Do you solicit them (and how that happens), do they find you (and how that happens), or do colleagues make referrals and introduction? Which method has the best conversion rate? What is the profile of organizations that have become your best clients over the past three years? Use what you learn about all of the above to buff up your business model and set the stage for a more profitable 2012. New Year’s Resolutions will conclude next week.
Thanks for reading,