Failure! It's an ugly word, one that no small business owner wants to hear. Unfortunately, it's one many small business owners hear a lot. In fact, 8 out of every 10 small business folds in the first year. So to prevent your freelance business from being a part of those statistics remember to always do the following to give it the best chance of long-term success.
Put the customer first
Does the customer always come first in business? Most of the time. After all, they are the one ultimately paying your wages. Yet still plenty of small business owners seem to forget this.
Of course, it harms their business. With so many competitors out there why would customers stay where they weren't treated right? So as a business, you need to ensure that you provide the best service to you customers to retain them.
This is a multi-faceted process, but it includes being available for questions and reassurance, something that is vital if your business is online. Now, I'm not saying answering phone calls in the middle of the night. Make sure your business hours are posted on your site and that your customers know this. When your business is open, be sure to answer client emails, calls and texts quickly. And be friendly, gosh darn it!
Also, it's important that you keep your customer up to date with the delivery status of their order. Think about how aggravated you are when you order something from Amazon and don't get a tracking number. No one wants to be unsure when their item is coming after they have paid for it. A quick email update is all you need to send every few days to keep a client happy.
Use specialized marketing programs
Another common mistake that small business' make is that they don't recognize the value of specialized marketing programs for the type of company and field they are in. Some make the mistake of thinking that they can handle their marketing in-house by reading a few posts online and sending out a couple of newsletters. You may need a little help, though.
In particular, marketers offering specialized solutions like these comprehensive MSP marketing programs for managed service providers, are so valuable because they know the field that they are working in, inside and out. This allows them to create the perfect marketing strategy that will appeal to your target audience and allow your company to stand out from your competitors. Ensuring a consistent stream of leads to be converted into successful sales.
If you're just a one-person freelancing business, it can be a smart marketing tactic to create content packages for your customers. For example, freelance writers can offer monthly blog upkeep packages for businesses for a set price. The package can include weekly blog posts, social media shares and creative images for the blog posts.
Pay attention to finances
Also, ignoring the financial side of things can lead you down a path of woe. After all, money does make the world go round, and if you don't have enough of it, your business can definitely grind to a halt.
This is especially the case in the beginning stages of your freelance business if you don't have the correct funding to get your project off of the ground or to get your product developed. You need to learn how to deal with late invoice payments and company cash flow too.
Remember though that these can be resolved by having someone supervising the financial side of things, especially chasing the payments. This can stop a disastrous cash flow crisis before it's even happened.
I use PayPal as my invoicing system. It's simple to use and if a client doesn't pay, I can file a dispute with PayPal. I've never lost a case because I make sure to get everything in writing.
Have comprehensive goals and strategies
Lastly, a ship without a rudder is destined to get into trouble, and the same goes for your small business. You will definitely need clear goals and a comprehensive strategy of how you are going to achieve these. Think of your goals as the destination, and the strategies as a map of how to make the journey.
I like to write out my business goals at the first of each month. Of course, you may not always keep to what is written down, since being successful in business some time calls for some quick thinking and flexibility. That is where having a plan B comes in.
In fact, it is perfectly acceptable to look at the business model you are using and realize that it isn't doing everything it can to help you achieve your end goals. Change it by diversifying the products and services you offer, reassessing the market, client and price point, and even launching your company under a different concept.
Pro tip: I've noticed that one of the big slip-ups for most freelancers is that they undervalue their product. If you undervalue yourself, then others will, too. Raise your rates to find clients with higher standards.