Articles about Business
For the first time on the internet, Jon, Nate and Austin will all be together on UMS Live podcast tomorrow, December 12th! Unmatched Style will be hsoting a marathon live podcast event showcasing a few great podcasts & shows. With guest like Carl Smith, Dan Mall, Zurb, United Pixel Workers, JD Graffam, and those guys from FortySeven Media
Honestly, we have no idea what will happen, but it should be loads of fun. We'll be doing a hybrid Kick Awesome Show and Kicktastic mashup with the good stuff you've come to expect from your favorite business bros.
We are in the middle of our year end planning sessions and want to share with you the process we're using to help FortySeven Media (jon nd Nate) and Bright Newt (Austin) gear up for the new year.
Last week, I wrote about identifying bad clients before you agree to work for them and take their money. But what about those clients who you've already got in the books? What should you do when good relationships sour and you wake up one day to realize that these clients cost you more than they make you? Do you feel confident in your ability to manage difficult clients?
Too many creative professionals are afraid to stand up for themselves and negotiate. They're afraid to make a client unhappy, believing that this person will malign them and tarnish their reputations. Or they are afraid that if spiteful Scrooge's meager checks stop coming then the business will go into a financial tailspin.
How will you pay your bills? How will you pay your team? If you remember only one thing from this post, remember this: Anxiety is a mediocre business coach. Don't make decisions simply to prevent bad things from happening. Make decisions to welcome so many good things into your life that they eventually crowd out the bad ones.
Today's post will cover something I've been thinking about a lot recently: bad clients, or, to be more precise, clients who cost your business more in terms of time, money, and anxiety than they make you.
As grimly satisfying as it would be to dish war stories about bad clients, my goal with this post is not to vilify the people who pay my bills but to help you identify and avoid potential obstacles to excellence, enthusiasm, and profit.
As I think back on what I did and didn't do well in 2012 and begin thinking ahead to 2013, I realize that I had to learn several lessons again. Let me begin with one short anecdote, and then I'll share three lists: 1) general beliefs about clients; 2) traits of bad clients; and 3) canned business pick-up lines.
Trae Bailey is one of those creative individuals who is always up to something interesting. He serves as a Second Lieutenant with the Army National Guard. He's a freelance marketer, and he's currently organizing a speakers' bureau. He will man your booth or your merch table at a conference and help you sell more stuff than you dreamed possible.
Several weeks ago, Trae thought that I'd enjoy meeting an app developer in Indiana, so he went out of his way to connect us. That's the kind of person Trae is.
I was thrilled when he joined Kicktastic in October and when he later agreed to share his thoughts on connecting with mentors. I hope you enjoy these insights from Trae... .
Although you're probably brilliant at doing whatever it is that you do, you may not be so brilliant at jumping through all the necessary hoops to set up your business as a legal entity.
The Kicktastic trio has invited Tim Ferraris, a Knoxville business attorney and internet marketer, to identify mistakes that freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners make when setting up their businesses. Tim didn't intend this post to be a comprehensive guide for navigating the quagmire of your state's legal system. He instead wanted to prepare for success the recent college grad considering self-employment or the corporate escapee who has decided to take the plunge into full-time freelancing
Without further ado, here are Tim's Top Five Legal Mistakes to Avoid:
In last week's post, I wrote about how online freelancing sites like oDesk can help you grow your business but didn't get in to my actual hiring process. Let's get down to it, shall we?
When I was first starting to move uncertainly through the morass of thousands upon thousands of freelancers from around the world, I would put up a public job posting, choose certain criteria for proficiency in English and average ratings and reviews, and see who showed up.
In this post, I hope to convince you that online freelancing sites can help you grow your business. To that end, I'll be sharing five ways that sites like Odesk.com have enabled me to better serve my clients and create additional revenue streams.
For starters, you can find inexpensive contractors to complete small projects that you have no time or inclination to do yourself. For example, I gave a TEDx talk last year and want to turn it into an eBook. I used the steps that I will outline in my next post to connect with a professional transcriptionist. Total cost? $15.77. I was able to focus on billable work, and the transcription gave me a good start on a piece of flagship content.
At times oDesk has also served to remove bottlenecks. One of my clients needed to compile old student records into an alumni database for a fundraising campaign. No one wanted to take responsibility for what promised to be a long, tedious process. I made a public posting on oDesk, and received dozens of applicants within a matter of hours. The applicant whom I hired turned out to be a very thorough and responsive data entry specialist, and with only $54.69 out of pocket, which my client reimbursed, I was able to keep the campaign moving forward.
Recently Jon and I flew to Virginia to work on location with a client of ours. While going through airport security, it was discovered that I was carrying some serious contraband so airport security made me toss the tube of highly suspcious terrorist hair product I had on me. So now with the free world safe from my heinous schemes, we traveled on.
It's a silly thing, but I don't quite feel like myself if my hair isn't sticking straight up in the air, doing it's best Eiffel Tower impression. So after we landed and took the shuttle to the hotel, I decided I'd try to get some more of this highly dangerous hair product of mine. It turns out a big box store was just under a mile away. Perfect, I'll just walk down and grab some.
The hotel we were staying at was in business park of sorts and didn't have much in the way of sidewalks, but that didn't stop me or the other brave pedestrians who had worn a path through the grass on the side of the road.
The moment you step off someone else's path, you are forging your own. There's freedom here.
I began walking on the little dirt path but quickly found I had a hard time staying on it. My feet were just too big. I gave up on the path and stepped off into the grass. I noticed two things immediately. 1. It was much softer to walk on. The path was packed down and was like walking on concrete. 2. It was bumpy! From there on and on the way back, I stayed off the path and it got me thinking...
One of the best pieces of business wisdom that I have ever learned came from Andrew, a veteran copywriter whose companies specialized in marketing for pharmaceuticals companies.
Soon after I got laid off from my job at a marketing firm, a mutual friend agreed to set up the meeting. In preparation for it, I updated my portfolio and felt very bold in choosing my new freelancing rate: $40 an hour.
I believed that the quality of my work would speak for itself.
$40 an hour was over twice as much as I had been earning per hour in my salaried position, including benefits, but the firm where I had worked sold my services for $85 an hour. As a freelancer, I could offer the same product for half the price. Surely clients accustomed to paying $85 an hour would be eager to get twice as much for the same price—or the same project for 1/2 of the cost.
Andrew looked at my writing samples, while my heart fluttered in my chest, and then after asking me about my hourly rate, he asked if he could give me some unsolicited advice.
What he said next floored me...
My wife and I went on vacation recently, and a pool float reminded of the importance of creative packaging.
A basic adult-length pool float of the sort that dumps you into the water as often as it holds you up will set you back about $3. At Winn-Dixie that same float already filled with air costs twice as much. An employee earning $8 an hour probably spent one minute per float with an air compressor, and this simple service enables the grocery store to double its profit on each float—an extra $180 for every 60 floats that leave the premises.
Wow. That's a lot of money in exchange for $8 and air, but the air, of course, represents convenience. Many people on vacation are more than happy to spend $3 to not have to blow up a float.
Even those of us who don't own grocery stores have something to learn here: for a minimal expense you can often tweak the presentation or packaging of your products and services and dramatically increase their perceived value.
I intentionally left an important insight out of my last post: people don’t change until it hurts worse to stay the same. They might hear a piece of great advice for small businesses, such as implementing first fruits, but actually hearing and doing are two different things.
And it’s the doing that’s most important. To that end, I have outlined below what I call the Make It Hurt system.
Sounds appealing, right?
Humor me with a quick thought exercise and consider what you stand to gain by using the system. If you’re like most of the people I know, you’ve got at least one or two skunkworks secrets rattling around in your gourd. I’m not talking about fire-extinguishing tasks and activities that you must address to stay afloat and pay your bills, but non-urgent projects that might fall under “Business Development."
Perhaps you're familiar with this maxim: "The cobbler's children have no shoes." Many freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners share the cobbler’s problem and leave their businesses barefoot. In this post, I will share some advice for small businesses that has the power to change your life.
Most freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners have the best of intentions and the worst of execution.
Do you ever find yourself making excuses about why you haven't finished an important but non-urgent task or project?
I left off the last post with a question about developing a smart brand positioning strategy: should you worry more about being an expert or simply being likable?
Before I attempt to answer, I should clarify: I do think you can be both. This question doesn't relate to the depth of your knowledge or level of your talent but to how you build a brand around them and how you sell them.
When you are meeting with a new prospect, should you emphasize your experience and credentials or should you simply show yourself to be likable, a person easy and fun to work with?
I will spend the rest of this post explaining why I believe the latter represents a better brand positioning strategy for earning a lot more money.
Big news here at Kicktastic. We're growing! We're very excited to introduce you to Austin Church – our good friend and head honcho of Bright Newt, not to mention the creator of fun, moustach-ey iPhone apps. In fact, we've been working with Austin on various projects for nearly three years. Let's just say we're finally making it official. Look at that picture. He fits right in! We've watched Austin grow his business by leaps and bounds, and he's itching to share everything he knows with you. How? We'll tell you in a minute....
What else has happened since you launched back in June?
We've been busy, that's what. Check it out:
Did we mention this free blog?
We just added a brand new blog section to Kicktastic. Austin will be leading the charge here, posting regular articles with strategies and tactics for polishing up your brand, landing cool projects, and making more money ASAP. And of course Nate and Jon will pitch in, too.
If you've read the last two posts, you now know that Kicktastic exists to 1) make solid business training affordable for everyone; and 2) give you the complete elephant and help you make money freelancing or transform your small mature business into a supercharged rocketpack made out of money.
Short answer: The purpose of all the trainging is to help you grow by leaps and bounds and take more cash home.
The first step is mental. You have to lay claim to this adventure of being responsible for your livelihood. Maybe you got laid off and were pushed into the world of self-employment forcibly. Maybe you're fresh out of college and can't find a job in your chosen field. Maybe you already have a decent paycheck and nice enough boss, but the work is sucking out your soul.
Regardless of where you're coming from, you can't ride the employment fence. If part of you is still waiting for another salaried position to fall in your lap, then you won't truly commit to learning for yourself how to generate a sustainable income.
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