When I stop to ponder why my income has grown significantly over the last four years, I can identify three crucial shifts in my perspective that helped me find success in business.
Your perspective on yourself, your work, and the role that you serve with clients can either leave you stranded in the realm of struggling freelancers or convey you to the magical orchard of money trees. (It really exists...)
I still hear other friends who work in the creative industry say things like, "Well, that's just the way freelancing goes."
Yes, the feast-or-famine roller coaster is the way freelancing goes. So why not try something different and expect different results?
I wish I could go back to the younger, more naive me, poke out his metaphorical eyes, and give him new ones (and new perspective) to read the cheat sheet that I've outlined below.
Do you see yourself as an artist adrift in the business world or a businessperson who sells art?
How you answer this question will influence the decisions you make. Artists sometimes struggle to let go of imperfections, but businesspeople know that you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. They know that finishing is more important perfection.
Nine times out of ten, perfection keeps you poor. And that tenth time, it won't necessarily make you more money.
Do great work, of course, but recognize that those "necessary" delays can quickly degenerate into diminishing returns. If Version 5.0 will make you the same amount of money as Version 2.1, should you keep waiting to ship what you've got?
Do you see yourself as a specialist or a problem-solver?
This question relates not to your perspective on yourself but to your perspective on your work. Specialists only charge for the one or two tasks or services that fall within their skillset: "Do you want a website built with Expression Engine? Good. I can help you with that."
Problem-solvers focus on their clients' goals: "What would you like to see happen?" They then work alongside the client to chart a course and design the means for getting there.
For me, the key to getting off that feast-or-famine rollercoaster was having more than two services to sell. I stopped indentifying (and introducing) myself as a writer, and I started saying, "I help people sell stuff." And later, "I help business grow, and I make problems go away."
Now I can almost always find a way to help a prospective client. In fact, I'm now turning a lot of business away!
Are you a vendor or an advisor?
Vendors wait for a call. Vendors worry about their pricing and competition. They sell commodities and a process.
Advisor receive calls from their clients. Advisors sell based on trust, not price. They sell a valuable experiences and positive outcomes.
Vendors worry where the next project will come from and whether or not they'll have enough to get by. Advisors work mostly through referrals and a network of relationships. They sometimes turn new business away to better serve their existing clients.
The Takeaway for Success in Business
Poke out your eyes. Change your perspective. Become a problem-solving advisor who sells art.