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Transitioning from Freelancer to Business-of-One

~ By Candice R

When our ‘Freelancer’ mindset is replaced with the ‘Business-of-One’ mindset, we start to attract a different caliber of engagements. We evolve because how we think influences what we say and do and how we behave, and THIS influences how we are perceived, our identity and ultimately our position in the market.

This is the step change:

1. Be the business (not the person)

No favors, no freebies, no taking advantage, no free mentoring, and the list goes on. No one goes to a bakery asking for free cakes, but if someone you know makes cakes you might try to ask if they will make a birthday cake as a favor for you. We’ve all been there. This is why clients must not engage with you as Joe Soap, they are engaging with your business, “Joe Soap Design”. It just feels weird asking favors from a business, it's not acceptable professional behaviour. Businesses do NOT work for free. Businesses do NOT give ideas away for free. Importantly, when clients engage with you as a business, you must FEEL like a business to them. Start with getting the basics in place: a business name, a business email, a website, communication via email using a business tone and language with a business email signature, branded business invoices, and business processes/ways of work, tools and templates.

2. Be the expert professional

Be to clients what you'd expect any business to be to you. What if the experience of buying groceries went something like this: You go to the grocery store and say to the manager, “I want enough food for a week.” The store manager says, “Great! That’ll be R1000!” You say, “Okay... but what do I get for my money?” They reply, “I can’t say for sure... I’m not in control of the farms or the trucking companies or the labor market or petrol prices or inflation or how hungry you are or how many people you are feeding... just give me the R1000 and I’ll do my best.” An expert professional asks clients the right questions and confidently offers to solve their challenge with a solid, well articulated and clearly proposed service.

3. Be commercially minded

Have a clear understanding of your commercial model and apply it in all client engagements. This will safeguard you from doing work that in the end you break even, or worse - it ends up costing you, or even worse, you turn away lucrative business for a client that you do not make money from. Sure, we want to do good business and we want to help people, this doesnt mean for free or where you are sacrificing, this is a BUSINESS. Businesses exist to make money. Being commercially minded means you price to absorb risk and deliver good value in return. Position pricing as business rates not individual rates (*refer to our content on creative pricing strategies). What a client is willing to pay you for your services is an indicator of how much they value you. If they want your services on the cheap, they do not value your worth. If you really want to feel valued, walk away to find that client that sees and respects your worth. This is where long lasting professional relationships are born. Don't sell yourself short. In the same vein, hold yourself accountable to the high price for those who are.

4. Be smart and think sustainability

This means your business can carry on when you are not there. Stretch your mind to imagine the possibilities here. Collaborating with a similar business is smart business. These sorts of collaborations can help when you have capacity issues (they also serve as a source of business when they can outsource to your business). Remember, these are professional partnerships not favors, have agreements in place, like any established business would. And back to point 3 - you charge a mark up on outsourced work and you maintain the client relationship. Yes, you need to make money when you outsource work. This is a smart passive income strategy. Sustainability also talks to having processes in place so anyone assisting you can easily pick up where you left off. Actually, the way you shape your business, your actual business model must have sustainability weaved into it.

There is great depth in thinking and behaving like a business and it comes with great reward.

Work with Candice R

"Solving niche challenges founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


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