Guest post by Del Mauricio
The prospect of starting a freelance business is something that has continued to gain traction in the recent decade. In fact, according to a study conducted by Intuit in 2010, 40% of the American workforce will consist of freelancers or contractors by 2020. If you are a freelancer, then this means you are part of this exciting trend revolutionizing the workforce. However, it also means growing competition. Therefore, in order to ensure the success of your freelance business, you will need to spend the time to institute it properly.
Below are the components you will need to establish a successful business and why they are important:
The first step in establishing a freelance business is to create a business plan. As daunting as it may sound, this is a critical step you cannot afford to ignore as it defines the foundation of your business. Keep in mind that the business plan does not have to be complex or formal. However, it should be insightful and it should make sense to you.
The business plan should include:
1. Mission statement – This outlines your business’s purpose and core values. This declaration will serve as a guide when making decisions about what is important to your business and what is not.
2. Definition of services – If you posses a set of diverse skills, then accentuate the ones in which you excel and make those your primary services. Focusing on your strengths will ensure you deliver great solutions to your clients as well as position you as an expert that clients trust.
3. Definition of target customer – Having a clearly defined target customer will help you focus when looking for new clients for your business. If you have a lot of experience working with a particular industry, then you will find it easier to attract more clients from that industry than others. Your experience translates into a benefit you offer them. So think about the people or companies you would like to work with and concentrate your sales and marketing on strategies that resonate with them.
4. Business goals – Setting business goals will help you keep focused and motivated. They will also function as an evaluation tool of your progress as you move forward. For freelancers business goals may include things like acquiring 1-3 clients a month, annual sales or income, etc.
The next step is to produce a marketing plan that determines how you will strategically promote your business. Even if you are a one-person operation, you will benefit from crafting this document. A marketing plan is important because it defines how you will reach your target customers and how to promote your business to them. Without a plan you risk wasting time and money, and not reaching the right audience.
Here are the key elements your plan will identify:
1. Positioning Statement – It is a declaration of how your services provide a unique solution to a specific customer need in a way that your competitors do not. Essentially it differentiates your business from the competition. This is a very difficult task, but extremely important as you will use this in every facet of your promotional strategy.
2. Marketing Objectives – Define what you wish to accomplish. For most freelancers the objectives may range from generating calls from potential clients, increasing your social media following, bringing traffic to your website, building up your email subscribers, etc.
Strategies and Tactics – These will determine exactly how you will accomplish your marketing objectives. For example, if you wish to increase your Twitter following, then your strategy should consist of advertising, and your tactic to use a promoted tweet.
3. Budget – No matter how small your business is; you will need to set a budget. Specify a monthly budget you are comfortable with spending on promotion, even if it is close to zero for some months. Keep in mind that there are many ways you can promote your business without spending a lot. However, it is important that you do invest some money in promoting your business, whether it is mailing a postcard, social media advertising, email marketing, etc.
A brand identity consists of brand components such as the logo, tagline, tone, and marketing collateral of your business. A successful brand identity creates positive impressions that attract and retain customers. Refer to your business and marketing plans for inspiration and brainstorm ideas of what your brand identity should look like.
A brand identity heavily influences how customers view your business. Making a great first impression is an opportunity you only get once. For businesses, branding is that opportunity, and often it is a missed opportunity. Therefore, you cannot afford to skimp on or postpone creating a strong brand identity.
Now that you have completed a business plan, a marketing plan, and your brand identity, it is time to develop your business website. A website will help you promote your business to potential clients by showcasing your work and expertise. Fortunately, you have done a lot of the heavy lifting already in terms of its foundation. You have determined your business’s mission, values, purpose, positioning, target customer, promotional strategy, and brand identity.
Having these elements previously decided will make developing your site a lot easier. You will know to write content that resonates with your target customer, have a rough idea of the branding, and know important facts of your business to highlight such as your mission, values, and differentiating factors. Your business website will be one of your best sales and marketing tools, so make sure to invest the time and money into creating one that is designed well.
Social Media Presence
Creating social media profiles for your business solidifies your online presence. These advocate accountability, visibility, and credibility for your business by giving people more access to it. In addition, you can attract a following by sharing content that is consistent with your business values and relevant to your target customer. A high number of followers can boost your business’s popularity as well as help position it as a leader in your industry. Start as soon as you can and begin sharing great content.
Social media reaches millions of people around the world and using this platform to promote your business is an opportunity you cannot underestimate.
No matter how busy or eager to start you are, you should dedicate the time to establish your business because it will prove useful when it comes time to selling and promoting it. The business plan creates the foundation of your business, set goals, and defines your target customers. Crafting all of these fundamental business components will give you more confidence when selling your services as well as make you stand out from competitors. Thus, taking the time to establish your business is an investment that can make it thrive and something you cannot afford to neglect.
Del Mauricio is CEO/Owner of Aesthetic Philosophies, a marketing and graphic design company that specializes in developing brand identities and marketing communications. Del has over ten years of experience helping diverse businesses build stronger and more engaging brand experiences. He joins us with expertise in branding, graphic design, marketing, and advertising.