here are many things you can do to be successful in any career path you choose, especially some of the most daunting ones. Starting a new business, picking up solo projects or even revamping existing business operations can be a formidable task for anyone to take on. However, these ten fool-proof tips will give you the momentum you need to succeed.
This article looks into some critical key factors to consider when building your business or freelance career:
Often, people jump into a business built around a product or service they think will be successful, rather than one that is already proven to have a market. For example, instead of designing new sports shoes with the latest and greatest design, you’d be better off focusing on a shoe category, and then more specifically on a niche of high performance, in-demand sports shoes. In short, it’s much better to have a small slice of a large category than a large slice of no market at all.
The same rule applies to freelancers who are competing in a big pool of independent writers, graphic designers, web developers and more. Ask yourself how could you be different from other contractors? Are you a better content creator? A better developer? Do you provide clients with more services for a more affordable price? Do you give clients more creative options than most freelancers? At the end of the day, it is important to recognize the value of your services and find ways to optimize that potential.
Cash is the lifeline and blood of your business, so you’ll need to find ways to grab that flow immediately. One way is to ask for deposits on work upfront, with balances due on delivery. In retail, offer products on layaway, especially for specialty items. You can also develop continuity programs where customers pay an upfront monthly fee to ensure the delivery or availability of items they will buy on a repeated basis.
Never pay retail. Instead, look for gently-used, preloved items to furnish your office or space. Pay vendors upfront to give leverage for negotiating better prices. This is also important to bear in mind if you live in economic environments where premium credit or discounted payment plans are accessible to favourable customers.
Expenses and revenues are concepts you learn early in business education. While it is good to be optimistic about the success of your business, it is also not a bad idea to be prepared for the opposite. It is common for many business start-ups to spend more than anticipated and to earn less than expected.
The same applies to freelancers. Job security is lower for contract workers than those working in full-time permanent positions, as clients can easily let go of services provided by a freelancer after the term is complete.
Overestimating your expenses and underestimating your revenues is a good mentality to have as an independent business owner or contractor. Adapting to this conservative way of thinking, however, does not automatically mean you will easily accept unfavourable outcomes. Instead, it means that you are providing yourself with information you can work with. You can gauge the levels of effort you’ll put into your business to bring results day after day. In the end, you are better prepared to face positive or negative outcomes than you were without this mentality.
A business is not a business without sales. But a high sales volume does not happen without marketing. Whether it is social media, digital marketing, business collaborations and more, be sure you have a strategy ready to go.
If you have a business concept in mind but don’t know where to start, review the 4 Ps of Marketing before delving deeper into your business model and strategy. Then, create a marketing and sales funnel system that can be worked, tested, measured and used by anyone in the company.
If online research does not make you confident enough to create effective business models and strategies, there are various short business and marketing programs that can better guide you in the right direction. If your business is exclusively online, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is another marketing tool you should be thinking about.
This would be the case for freelancers whom businesses primarily find online. Creating search engine optimized websites and content while having a strong social media presence are the marketing fundamentals you need to get valuable leads that will potentially turn into sales or long-term business partnerships.
Find ways to re-engage past buyers, website leads and social media followers to optimize your profits. Referral programs that offer benefits to current customers for referring you to other businesses is also a great way to expand your client network.
But remember, quality will always beat quantity. You may work with many clients and customers, but if you cannot prove that you are the best person to work with or business to buy from, you can just as easily lose them.
You can't change what you don't know, so make sure to test, measure and track all results. In other words, think like a doctor. Get baseline statistical data before identifying symptoms or recommending corrective courses of action. Why throw money away on an ad campaign that costs thousands of dollars, but doesn't bring any people through the door? Measure, test and track in order to get those leads!
You will never know everything as everything changes with time, whether that is technology, user behaviour, marketing and sales strategies. Constant innovation is necessary as the risk of going out of business increases without this adaptive mentality. You need to understand that learning always comes before "earning". Therefore, be committed to learning as much as possible. Identify key areas of growth (e.g. sales, marketing, leads) and study key concepts yourself, or hire an expert and learn as much as you can from that person. Keep learning and never settle because your business depends on it.
When you discount items or labour, you are taking money directly out of your pocket or business and directly from your profits. Instead, create added value. Whatever the industry is, try to keep your price points and increase your margins with extra products, features or services that come at low or no additional costs. This can also give you an added advantage against your competitors.
Talk to someone who is objective, and you can rely on for “real” business advice – someone who will hold you accountable and help you get the results you’re striving for. Often, we think we have all the answers, however, this is not the case when building a business. Another set of eyes and someone who is objective can work wonders for your business.
So, where do you go from here? Like we said, continue learning. There are many aspects you need to look into to become a successful business in the world of digital marketing. If you are a freelancer, there are other things you can do to be a successful contractor.
Last Updated: April 2021