I’m Not A Businessman. I’m A Business, Man.
Taking inspiration from music – the words of Jay Z fit perfectly with how you should see yourself as a contractor or freelancer. “I’m Not A Businessman. I’m A Business, Man”.
You are your own business so you need to think like one. If you want to excel in the freelancer world you need to set yourself some business principles and try to stick to them.
Customer Service: This point cant be stressed enough. If you provide poor customer service as a contractor your wont get any repeat business and they wont recommend you to anyone else. On the flip side if you provide a high level of customer service you can expect to be the first person they call and recommend. Good customer service is more than just good manners. It’s being upfront and honest with your employers. If they ask you a question answer it as soon as possible and if it’s going to take a while to get the information let them now. It’s all about communication and delivering on your promises.
Planning: The key to any successful business is planning. There are a number of things you need to plan as a contractor. You need to plan for your cash flow during and after your contract. If your lucky enough to have several contracts in the pipeline then this is not too difficult but if you don’t then you will need to plan your finances so that you don’t spend all of your money before your contract is over, making sure you have enough to tide you over until you land your next contract (We can help with thisJ). The second thing you need to plan is how you’re going to get your next contract. You don’t want to wait until your current contract is over to start looking for your next role because you don’t know how long you’ll be out of work waiting and not bringing in any money. It’s important to have a plan in place so you know that 2 months before your contract is up you implement your ‘contract acquisition’ strategy.
Don’t be Afraid of Risk: As a contractor you will be no stranger to risk, but is important not to become complacent. The business world is constantly changing and so are organizational needs. Don’t be afraid to diversify from your main line of work. Learn new skills, develop your knowledge and if an opportunity comes up that scares you… take it (unless your life will be in danger, then you might want to sleep on it).
Retain a Competitive Edge: The number of contractors is constantly growing so it is important to differentiate yourself from others. Do a competitor analysis and look at how other freelancers promote themselves and their skills. Try and find something about you that will make you stand out from the crowd. Whether it’s your experience, knowledge or even your levels of service. Remember to make a shout about it.
Marketing: Any self-respecting business knows that to get noticed and increase sales you need a marketing strategy. This is no different for a contractor, but instead of sales you’re looking to increase contracts. Create your own dedicated website and with your skills, knowledge, experience and portfolio on. It doesn’t need to be flashy and you can create one for next to nothing. Update (or create) your social media accounts that are relevant to what you do and try to get as much positive information on them as possible. Remember to remove anything that you wouldn’t want an employer to see. Social media is a great place to network so remember to add anyone that you’ve ever worked with and join and actively participate in relevant groups. There are also a number of contractor portals available.