The New Year is a traditional time for taking stock of the last year and of our lives in general, and to make some resolutions to improve it.
You may have made a few of your own and if you’re a freelancer, some may involve your freelance life. For example, you may vow to commit to taking a short break from the screen every hour or change your working hours to more sociable times.
But it’s also worth considering resolutions that will improve the business side of your freelancing. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are our top five suggestions.
Make a new business plan
If you had a business plan, it’s time to reassess it and make a new one if it’s not working for you. If you didn’t have one in the first place, now is the perfect time to make one.
- This should include your freelance business goals, such ashopes to:
- Achieve a higher income
- Increase your job satisfaction
- Complete work in a more timely manner
- In this plan you can map out how you will achieve these. You could take on larger projects, for example, to increase your source of income, or you may want to review your rates for the New Year.
- Alternatively, when focusing on your job satisfaction you should ask, is it time to let some clients go if they’re often unreasonable or pay late?
Boost your brand
Reassess how and where you promote your services, and ask yourself if you’re committing enough time to maintaining your website and producing fresh content.
- Focus on promoting your expertise in your niche, aiming for projects that are higher-profile and higher-paying – and remember that it’s OK, and often beneficial for business, to say no to some jobs. Make sure that what you’re offering is clear and that your brand has consistency.
Remember that back-ups are the backbone of your business
Even if your industry and expertise aren’t remotely technological, you almost certainly use technology to run your business. At the very least, you probably have client phone numbers stored on your phone and their contact details on a computer or laptop.
- For many freelancers, their work, contracts, invoices and communications with clients are all held on a computer.
- If your phone was stolen or lost tomorrow, where else do you have those client numbers stored? What if your laptop failed or your computer was infected with a virus? Having everything related to your business backed-up is absolutely essential.
- Consider using the cloud or an external hard drive – or even better, both. Make back-ups a regular part of your routine.
Increase your productivity
Are you as productive as you could be? Could you automate, delegate or outsource some tasks, or partner up with someone? Maybe your working hours aren’t as well organised or scheduled as they could be.
- If an event, task or person regularly interrupts you at the same time, you need to decide if you can move or remove the interruption – or whether that period is better used for personal or domestic tasks, shifting that work session to another time.
- Have you considered letting an accountant deal with your tax return, saving you time and stress (and surprisingly, often money; they know exactly what you can claim for)?
- Think about how and where you work, and how you organise your workload and time. There are some great productivity apps there that can track your time, organise your work, or both.
- But beware spending hours testing out dozens of them – unless you know you can produce a well-paid article or video about it afterwards!
Don’t stand still
While overstretching yourself or over-selling your capabilities isn’t recommended, that doesn’t mean you should stand still, offering the same services and talents year after year. Stand still and your industry is likely to move on past you, offering work to freelancers who have kept up with the latest developments.
- Making time to hone your skills and learn new ones should be an integral part of your routine. Increasing your knowledge, widening your experience and undertaking qualifications or training are important tasks if your want your services to remain relevant and sought after.
Taking the time to step back and revaluate the way you run your business as a freelancer is a vital task – and should be a regular one. If you’re not inclined to do it at any other point in the year, try and commit to doing it annually, whether it’s at the calendar new year or the financial one.
Your business should continue to prosper and grow just as any other business should. As an employee, you would expect to be increasingly well-compensated for your growing expertise and experience; as a freelancer, it’s up to you to ensure that you are!