Articles about Growing
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?
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
For creative professionals, talking about a sales funnel is like farting in polite company. How gauche, right?
So let's not talk about sales funnels. Let's talk about making sure that you have a Trust Magnet: an entry-level product or service that poses minimal financial risk to clients. Notice that I didn't use the word "cheap." We're talking about creating a low, or inexpensive, barrier for entry and giving people a taste of what it's like to work with you.
Trust is the true currency of business. Even if a faithful client referred your new prospect, you still need to build trust by empathizing with his or her problems and improvising a solution.
Let me share one scenario with you. I have a friend who is a financial planner. If his firm manages your assets, they take a 1% commission each year. If you want them to architect a financial plan for you and find management elsewhere, they charge $250/hour. Both of these figures represent a significant investment from the outset, and thus a very high barrier for entry.
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.
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.
Don't stress about how to hire an assistant.
Last October, I discovered that hiring an assistant isn't all that complicated. It's the being responsible for someone else's livelihood that can be scary. Sheesh. I'd never hired anyone in my life. What if all my clients left me? What if all the money dried up? What if, what if, what if...
Those of us who have grown accustomed to self-employment (and calling the shots) sometimes have a hard time letting go. But what happens when you just can't leverage your own productivity any more? How will you grow when you just can't squeeze any more billable time out of your work days?
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.
Happy 2013, everybody! We hope you had a great 2012.
If your town is anything like ours, you've already started seeing New Year's Resolutions and "New Year, New You!" ads for gyms, popping up all over the place. My Facebook feed is getting all motivation-y. And though it feels a bit tired and predictable, the New Year really is a great time to change things. There's this kind of mental switch that gets flipped in January that says: "Alright, I've got another chance at this."
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."
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.
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.