When I started my business I didn’t realize I was in fact a business owner.
I was a freelancer – I got new projects, finished them fast and built a reputation as a good writer. That was it though.
I didn’t think about marketing or accounting or the dozen other little (or not so little) things a business owner normally worries about.
That all changed when I created Great Leap Studios and I realized that there were a lot of tasks I NEEDED to perform to build my business. The writing work that I had always prioritized above all else was actually the least important thing on my to do list – at least in terms of growing my business.
It was sobering, but also invigorating. So, to continue with last week’s theme, here are 7 of the things I put off the most early on that you should embrace as early as possible.
- Lead Tracking – Create a system for tracking leads. It can be a spreadsheet or even just a notebook next to your computer. But keep track of them. I used to forget about leads after contacting them the first time. Flat out forget, thinking “Meh, guess they’re not interested”. Don’t be like that – you’ll waste dozens of potential projects.
- Networking – The single biggest piece of the puzzle missing in my business for years was networking. Make this a priority and start reaching out to other business owners, marketers and leads on and offline.
- Separating Business and Personal – Turns out running a business is MUCH easier if you have a formal LLC or corporation, separate bank accounts and expenses. It’s an issue of mindset – keeping things separate makes it easier to relax after work and to manage your income and time alike.
- Accounting – Periodically adding up your projects to see if you have enough cash to cover bills isn’t enough. Get Quickbooks or use an online service like Mint or Wave Accounting and keep track of what you’re making, what you’re spending and how much you owe the government.
- Building Your Website – If you haven’t yet, build a website. The current iteration of GreatLeapStudios.com has been growing for more than 6 months, and was preceded by two other websites – V1 of GLS.com and SeattleFreelance.com. I get a LOT of leads through these sites on autopilot.
- Making Phone Calls – If you fear the phone, get over it. The web gives too many people a crutch to avoid talking to others. They procrastinate on those projects, wait to call back or simply ignore the request for a call. Take a deep breath and make those phone calls because they will have a positive impact on your business.
- Documenting Processes – Start documenting how you do your job. What do you do different from others? What works well? What doesn’t? This makes great stuff for your own marketing materials, PLUS it makes life much easier if you start outsourcing.
There are more. I was REALLY lazy when I started, so most of this was on hold for years. But if your goal is to jump start your freelancing career and start building your business, this is more than enough to get you started.
What have you been putting off? What marketing, accounting, or operational tasks have you put aside because you don’t feel they apply to you? What changes are aiming to make in 2013? Let’s hear it in the comments section!