Currently, I offer three areas of services in the realm of small business development and creative project management:
- Consulting in Brand Marketing & Communications
- Project Management
- Copy Writing
In the past 3 years, while offering these services, I’ve learned from past experiences about how to coach others through processes to stay organized while pursuing their amazing self-employed careers. Based on this experience, I’ve pulled together the top 3 pitfalls that we sometimes fall for as business owners or freelance creatives and what to do to avoid them.
Pitfall #1: Don’t let your clients control your schedule
Not everyone has a clear idea of what an in-take process should look like. But the truth is, neither do your clients or customers. It is up to us as business owners to teach them how to work with us and confidently execute simple business procedures. The in-take of a new client should involve some thoughtful concern as to how busy you already are with existing clients. It should also concern a procedure that allows you to accept or decline new projects with peace of mind along the way.
Assess your current in-take process:
- How do clients find you and what services do you advertise to offer? Do clients tend to ask you for services you do not advertise to offer & do you actually fulfill those requests? How much time out of your schedule does it take to meet this person’s needs?
- How do you currently allow them to book your calendar for an initial consultation? Do you require a deposit to begin your services? (That consultation, depending on your business model, should be worth your time).
- How much notice do you require for a potential client to request your services? (If you want to work 20 hours a week but already have 20 hours of client requests in que, you might try requiring 2-3weeks notice for beginning new projects – trust me I’m still learning from my own mistakes on this one).
Pitfall #2: Don’t let the administrative responsibilities get the best of you
Having a specific skill set is okay even if it doesn’t include business management, marketing or financial responsibility. But you must have the realization that you’ve got to spend as much time creating amazing work as you do on the management of administrative duties. These include sending invoices, handling transactions, sales pitching, returning phone calls or emails AND sending notes of gratitude to clients. What if this is not your specialty? While it’s important to always operate in your strengths, it’s also important to recognize your weaknesses and do something about it. Marketing or business planning may not be your expertise but these items still have to be done. It’s possible that you don’t want to admit your weaknesses but the good news is that someone else is already an expert in the areas you are not – so you must collaborate!
How can you manage your business while still operating in excellence?
- Hire professional help
- Schedule time to do the tedious work or hire an intern!
- Take advantage of project management tools & software
- Quickbooks or Waveapps – Financial Management & Invoice Creation
- Zoho or Asana – Project management tool
- Google Calendar & Google Voice – Client messaging tools
- Paypal or Shopify – e-commerce solution tools
- Lynda.com – Webinars & tutorials on marketing, web design and all things for creative entrepreneurs
Pitfall #3: Don’t let your Pride get in the way of your success
Often times I hear these words come out of a business owner, “I can do that myself!” But the truth is that possibly you are too prideful to admit that you need help and this is why it has not been already. How is this working for you?
No one likes a jack of all trades, but a master of none.
I may be a little candid in this post but trust me when I say that I am speaking from experience – Pride in your talents is great, but being prideful about something you have no skill in will only hurt your business in the end. A smart business owner knows when to collaborate with others, but have enough confidence to ask for help. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you are developing a talented skill in being resourceful.
To sum it up, I hope that over the next six months, you can take a moment to assess your current business processes and recognize which pitfalls you have fallen for. If you are already past this point of your business, help someone else become a better business owner like you! Let’s change the culture of entrepreneurship and eliminate competition by supporting each other’s growth in small business.