Rather than following a template, small business owners may want to focus on what works. If you review your processes and business plan, and cut out the least effective programs/projects, you may save money and increase attention and resources.
As the year comes closer and closer to an end, I have been doing a lot of reflecting, especially from a business perspective.
I am currently booked up until February 2018, which is the furthest in advance I have had clients locked in ever. It feels amazing to not have to hustle so much over the holidays to get projects on the calendar. As a result, I feel as though I can finally take a step back and think about growing my business–the focus on what works (and worked) this year and what did not work.
This weekend I finally updated my revenue spreadsheet with projections through the remainder of the year and it really showed me how the first half of this year and the second half are like night and day for my business. Yes, they re different from a financial perspective, but I also realized that they are wildly different from a confidence perspective.
A big part of that confidence has come from developing better processes for myself. I am better at managing my time, pricing my projects, writing proposals for clients, and creating a seamless experience for my clients from start to finish. Processes may not be sexy or fun; however, they can have a HUGE impact on the growth of a business.
All of that begs the question: Where in the world did I come up with these processes? And how can you do the same for your businesses or projects? Well, that is what I want to talk to you about.
Back when I decided I wanted to try my hand at being a designer, I felt like a fish out of water because it is very different from coaching. I was on the outside looking in and I had no clue about how I was supposed to talk to design clients, set my price, and send invoices. I was so self-conscious…like one wrong move and a potential client would expose me for what I really was–a total novice. If you were to take a peek at my Google search queries in those early days, you would you have a laugh. I spent HOURS combing through blog posts and design forums, downloading templates and reading books from other freelance designers. I was obsessed with finding out what the right way to run my business was. I was spending so much time obsessing over HOW to do things so that I wouldn’t look dumb, that it was stopping me from actually going out in the real world and getting clients to gain experience. And REAL experiences with REAL clients trumps reading any amount of blog posts (or even books for that matter).
The truth is this, we all pretend there is a clear line between the right and wrong way to run a business. It is why we see blog posts such as “How to Write a Client Proposal” or “How to Negotiate Your Prices” and we take it as gospel. The truth is that it is simply the author’s perspective on what worked for them. Just like this post is my perspective on what has worked for me. But not all businesses are the same and, even more importantly, not all business owners are the same. What is right, or what other people in your industry are doing, is not always what will be best for you.
If you are just starting out, do not let the fear of looking different or dumb prevent you from putting your work out there and creating processes for your own business according to what YOU want. In the end, I took what I learned and I just found a place to start that I was comfortable with. I discovered that the key wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing. It was communicating my unique processes to my clients with confidence: This is HOW I do things and this is WHY I do them that way. (Hint: Because other people said so is no longer my reason why.) Anyway, if you are interested in learning more about my specific processes, I will be updating the blog with a peek into how I developed them and what tools I use to run my business.
I hope that you now realize my way is just ONE way–not the right way. Just because you do not know the right way to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. I encourage you to get out there, figure out and focus on what works for your business.
What steps have you taken to build your own personal brand?