Growing Your Business As a Self-Employed Professional

By Erin Ollila, Contributor, on March 2, 2018

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Most people play the field as a freelancer, and unfortunately tend to get stuck with that job title, never moving past it. But not you. Freelancing was your entryway into self-employment, and now you want to get serious about growing your business. But what if you’re not ready to hire employees, and you’re not really sure you’ll ever want to build a team? Instead, you just want to treat your job like a business (and not a hobby or short-term gig). You’re ready to think like an entrepreneur. Here’s how to get started.

Determine Your Worth

The first step in running a business is understanding your “worth.” To be the CEO of your self-employment, you need to value your own time, invest in self care and grow confident in your skills. It’s a long road, and something you’ll continue to work on over time, but it’s very important to consider your overall worth during the early stages.

When you begin growing your business, you also need to determine what your product or service is worth to your customers. What is their return on investment? If, for example, you’re a designer and hired to stage a home for someone, the price you pitch needs to reflect how much value your client will receive when they sell.

And worth isn’t just tied to monetary value. Your customers measure worth by time, risk and probably a few other things. Many business owners that hire me for strategy or ghostwriting do so because I save them hours upon hours of content creation time. As for risk, if you own a tree removal service, for example, your customers are willing to pay you top dollar to give them the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their wobbly, dying tree won’t topple onto their home during the next storm.

Change Your Mindset

The way you think about your business will directly impact your success. Here’s the great news: You can change all that mumbo jumbo going on in your brain. Just don’t try to do it all at once. First, determine what you think needs the most work. For many professionals, adjusting their money mindset is the first step.

But you’ll likely find that any concerns you have regarding money are usually related to other issues, like overworking or customer service: Are you taking on project after project because you think success is directly related to monetary gain? While earning top dollar is significant when you’re working alone (hello, taxes), the type and amount of work you take on is even more important. Do you feel motivated or do you feel dread when you work on certain projects? Skip the ones that don’t excite you. And consider raising your prices instead of taking on more work so you don’t experience freelance burnout and frustration.

Educate Yourself

A smart solopreneur is the one who wears multiple hats and juggles all business roles — the marketer, IT department, customer service rep — with ease. An even smarter solopreneur contracts out work from time to time to a virtual assistant or other professional so she can focus on developing her particular skill set. But, to be the boss of a one-person business, you need to know how to do a lot.

Not sure where to begin? Strategize your needs. Maybe your graphics need some work, or you need to gain some social media know-how. Whatever education you need, there are online and in-person courses and one-time workshops that can help you grow. Even knowing the basics of numerous different skill sets will set you apart from your competitors.

Adjust Your Sales Funnel

Let’s say you’re a hairdresser. You have a particular skill set that requires your time in order to make money. As a freelance hairdresser, you can open up more appointments if you need to increase your profits. Or, you can scale back if you want more personal freedom.

However, a hairdresser who treats her job like a business will make other adjustments to bring in more income. For example, you can create a series of hair-styling courses that can be sold to clients. Of course, these types of videos will take an initial investment of time and money, but once they’re created, they can be sold over and over again. When evaluating your sales funnel, you may also want to consider using affiliate listings on a website to recommend all the products you use in your salon.

You’re ready to take your solo career to the next level. Of course, growing your business might seem scary at first, but know that all these little adjustments are what will make your career thrive for years to come.

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