Six Business Lessons for Freelancers

LifeAsFreelancerWhen we read this piece on Forbes, we nodded in agreement.

After all, why should freelancers learn these lessons the hard way when they points have been outlined for us? ShortStack asked their Facebook fans, “What is one business lesson you learned the hard way?”

And away we go…here are their answers, as per ShortStack’s CEO Jim Belosic.

1. You can’t do it all on your own. If you’re setting up shop as a freelancer and creating your own site, social media accounts, the works, chances are you’ll get burned out. Fast. Belosic points out, “Building a team is essential because there are only so many hours one person can devote to a business.”

2. Do one thing incredibly well. As a freelancer, you’re an entrepreneur wearing many hats. If you’re a generalist, will that hurt your chances as a writer compared to say, specializing in financial markets? The piece suggests specializing and then providing a skill or service that makes your core even better.

3. Get paid. This sounds like a no brainer but essentially you should always get paid before a project is turned into a client. If you’re a graphic designer, make sure you get paid before you hit the “on” switch of that project.

4. Get paid what you’re worth. The piece points out you may convince yourself that getting underpaid is acceptable if you can rake in more than you did as an employee. Alas, as soon as you realize you’ll be taxed on that rate, it’s not such a bargain after all. Want to truly be competitive? “Compete on quality, expertise and your niche focus instead of price,” says Belosic.

5. Look after those who look after you. If people recommend ShortStack’s product, the CEO says their referral commissions are under the radar screen. After all, they want people to recommend it because they like it, not because they’ll get a dime from it. But when they notice people saying nice things about them in a public forum, they may be surprised to receive a t-shirt.

If they do it repeatedly, then it’s time to become a referrer. He mentions, “We might say, ‘Hey, you should become a referrer and earn a percentage of the business you send our way.'”

6. It’s not a sale until it’s been paid for. As freelancers, we may let ourselves jump for joy after landing a new client. Hooray!

The bad news? Um, we shouldn’t exactly do the happy dance until the check for our services has been signed, sealed, delivered. And cashed.

Belosic says, “This sounds obvious, but I’ve known small business owners who get very excited about orders and/or meetings with prospective clients. But until the money for those products or services is in the bank, it doesn’t count.”