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The Most Valuable Thing in Business

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Apr 13, 2013


Categories

If you'd asked me four years ago about the most valuable thing in business, I probably would have answered, "Expertise." Now I know that it's something quite different.

Back in 2009 after a six-month stint at a marketing firm (and subsequent layoff), I was all too aware of what I didn't know. Why would someone hire me to handle their marketing? That would be like hiring Macaulay Culkin to run your life. (Okay, okay, low blow.)

Yet hire me they did. Why? 

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Perfectly Imperfect - The Secret to Success

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Apr 05, 2013


Categories

Perfectionism is paralysis. The secret to success is getting your perfectly imperfect idea out into the world.

Just ask the guy who talked my ear off for two hours about a year ago. When I asked how long his idea had been thinking about starting a clothing company, he said, "Since 1998." 

What?! 

He was waiting until he got better t-shirt designs, until he found the right people, until he had more startup capital. 

He was waiting for perfect before he shipped. 

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The Power of Saying No

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Mar 29, 2013


Categories

You might be surprised how much more successful your business will be and how much freer and healthier you'll feel if you start saying no.

  • No, I don't just need more clients. I need happy clients.
  • No, I don't do spec work. But I am happy to book a two-hour strategy session with you to create a plan for working together to achieve your goal.
  • No, I'm not available to help you with [insert boring project here]. However, I'll be happy to help you to find someone who can help.
  • No, I can't work on this project. You deserve to work with people who will be excited about this, and I need to stay focused on my other commitments.
  • No, I don't do that kind of work in-house. But I do know a contractor who is really, really good, and if I manage the project, then I can help you achieve the outcome you want.
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Steal My Sales Management System

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Mar 22, 2013


Categories

I know some creative professionals who have a strong reaction against the idea of a sales management system.

If they start paying more attention to their prospects, meetings, proposals, and sales, then they will immediately morph into a greaseball in a plaid suit selling clunkers, right?

Rest assured, you can become good at sales without using extra pomade. 

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Affiliate Sales - A No-Brainer Way to Generate Cashflow

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Mar 16, 2013


Categories

Last week, I wrote about creating a Trust Magnet--that is, an entry-level product that will generate cashflow and give new clients a chance to experience what it's like working with you. 

A relatively inexpensive offering will help get people "through the door" and give you a way to regulate your cashflow. 

An even easier way to make more money is by signing up to be an affiliate for products and services that you use. You can earn commissions when people whom you refer make a purchase. 

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Simple Project Management - 4 Free Tools for Streamlining Your Process

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Feb 28, 2013


Categories

You have every incentive to master simple project management. Your clients will be impressed by your responsiveness, your contractors and employees will enjoy not feeling like the ship is always sinking, and your bank account will be happier. The faster you finish projects, the more profitable they tend to be.

The challenge is seeing room for improvement when you're in the throes of project work. It's hard to find the time to rework your workflow when the work is flowing. There's a tongue twister for you.

Project management represents a lovely Catch-22: you have every incentive to improve your project management and every excuse to put it off.

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In Praise of the Minimum Engagement

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Feb 19, 2013


Categories

What do you do with those clients who can't make up their mind about how to proceed? They know that they need what you have, and may even be convinced that you're the right person for the job. A minimum engagement can keep new client relationships from stalling out.

We've all been there. You meet to talk about one thing, and halfway through the conversation you realize that they need rebranding AND a new website AND search engine optimization AND a marketing plan. They can't decide where to start. Or their budget cannot accommodate all of those projects at once, and this shortfall has caused inertia. Or someone else whose opinion matters couldn't be at the meeting: "Let's wait until the marketing director gets back from vacation. She'll know where to start."

"Let's wait until…" has been the death of many a promising project (and potentially lucrative client relationship).

How do you politely yet firmly navigate such conversations into the safe harbor of a closed sale?

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Eight Ways to Make More Money

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Feb 12, 2013


Categories

At the beginning of 2012, I took what became a life-altering step in my business: I began separating my income from the number of hours in each day. In this post I will share eight ways to make more money. I pursued all eight last year and would love for you to make 2013 the best year ever for your business by picking at least one or two of these revenue boosters and acting on them.

Let me start by putting on my Captain Obvious cape and insulting your intelligence with a simple observation: The work that makes you money today isn't necessarily the work that will make me money in the future. Robert Kiyosaki taught me that a job is not an asset. Assets put money in your pocket even when you're not working. Jobs don't. 

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Do Something Stupid - A Case for Leaping Before You Look

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Jan 25, 2013


Categories

Lately I've been thinking about low ceilings and clownfish; about how competitive the App Store's Games category is and about ignoring that fact; about search funds and OMGPOP's Draw Something.

In short, I've been thinking about doing something stupid.

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The Art of the Casual Connection

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Dec 18, 2012


Categories

One of the questions that people ask me most often is this: How do I get more business? The long answer would fall in the realm of marketing and would thus require a book-length manuscript. I'll content myself with brevity for once.

Most of my new business comes through referrals, and I attribute these referrals to "the art of the casual connection." 

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How to Manage Difficult Clients

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Dec 10, 2012


Categories

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.

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Bad Clients

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Dec 04, 2012


Categories

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.

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Top Five Legal Mistakes for Creative Professionals to Avoid

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Nov 19, 2012


Categories

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:

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How to Use Online Freelancing Sites to Build Your Business – Part 2

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Nov 12, 2012


Categories

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.

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The Importance of Creative Packaging & 12 Ways to Improve Your Brand

Austin Church

by Austin Church


Oct 22, 2012


Categories

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.

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