Recently on the Creative Cow blogs, Walter Biscardi wrote a series on the ins and outs of running a business. Definitely worth a read if you?re heading that direction. I?ve summarized a few of the points in each section.
Part One: Are You Ready?:
- The 8-5 workday isn?t the reality of the self-employed. When you?ve got to meet a deadline, or the client requests a sudden change, 24 hours becomes your new work schedule.
- Working alone means a void of creative input. When you?re on a job with fellow creatives, they inspire you, teach you, help you to grow. When you?re sitting in the home office, there?s only the dog to teach you new tricks. Are you professionally and creatively ready for that situation?
- Focus on your skill set. You can?t be great at everything. Know what you can do, and do it excellently.
Part Two: Setting Up Shop
- Do you partner or go solo? Think of it like marriage ? there?s a lot of opportunity for a partnership to go sour, so choose very, very carefully.
- Meet with a CPA. (Now we didn?t do this step, but we were working freelance and didn?t really have a full-fledged business.)
- Home Office or Office Office? With a commercial office, the overhead is high, but the professionalism is there. With a home office, the overhead is low, but the professional work space (and corresponding impression on clients) can be qutite low.
- Consider your equipment investments carefully. Do you need it? Will it benefit the types of clients you?re seeking to attract? And most importantly, can you afford it?
- Keep your office space clean. The client might be a bit uncomfortable with an editor that has 20 empty Coke cans scattered on the floor.
- Offer extras. When your clients visit you, have drinks, snacks, etc to make them feel comfortable and welcome.
Part Three: Running & Building Your Business
- Get your name out there. Become involved in forums, user groups, community events. Give your business card away constantly.
- Coupons ARE good ? it never hurts to offer discounts or incentives when doing your first few jobs. If you don?t have a proven track record, why should someone take a risk and hire you at $150/hour? Be willing to cut your rates in order to get those initial clients.
- When hiring freelancers, keep in mind that whoever you choose will be your representative to the world. The client doesn?t know you?ve hired that cranky editor for just one job. All they see is that dealing with the guy is a pain and he is associated with your company. The moral? Choose your associates wisely.
- Keep business by putting the customer first. Deal with issues immediately, if possible. When a customer knows you go the extra mile to take care of their needs, they?ll be more likely to think of you when repeat business comes up.
Last update: 02:09 PM Monday, January 14, 2008