Strategic Alignment for Your Freelance Business
The difference between disarray and efficiency can be compared to having a Mac truck tread on your forehead or having yourself a weekly afternoon massage.
Okay, so maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but you get the picture. Most small business owners have been there at some point or another. And some muddle around in a sort of chaotic-like business environment for the majority of their years as business owners. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. You can have a balanced, successful, and growing business.
You can choose to transform that awesome vision into the reality of a living, breathing, growing, “smooth like butter” business. The following tips should help you get started creating a strategic alignment for your freelance business. In other words, you will learn how to streamline your business into something that is manageable and relatively pain free.
In The Beginning There Was… A Map!
So, what strategies can be implemented to streamline your freelance business and make it run most adequately? Efficiency in your business begins with a framework, a guide — a MAP.
You need to map out where you are and where you want to go, and connect those two essential areas with the smoothest, quickest routes. Here are six tips on creating a map for a smooth, well-run small business.
Define your overall business goals and objectives clearly and concisely. Define the purposes of each. Knowing what you want is great, but breaking it down into “stepping stones” to get you where you want is a necessity. These principles will guide all other decisions, so choose wisely.
1. Learn About Your Company
Understand your business inside and out. This goes beyond the operations and into the entire structure of the business. What are the purposes and functions of each department? For small freelance businesses, a "department" can be translated into "tasks," such as accounting, sales, projects, marketing. How much time, effort, and money are spent on each task?
Track each with statistical data. Control systems to have a visual of each areas progress, as well as efficiency – or lack thereof. This may be as basic as creating a spreadsheet for each task in which you input data, such as time spent daily/weekly, expenses and costs daily weekly, return on investment received for each task, etc. Each task will require you to track slightly different data. Seeing the information on paper will help you to better see where you need to spend more time and what you need to cut back on.
2. Study Your Clients
Know your clients and customers. Getting inside their heads is your goal because they are the fuel of your freelance business. Studying them enables you to anticipate and then meet their needs before they have even made a request. Knowing their needs also lets you understand what areas of your business needs ramping-up, as well as the best type of products and services to have.
You may need to pull demographics of your customers. ShockMarketer has a terrific article to help you get started with pulling demographic information online. You can also ask clients to complete a five minute survey to gather data in return for a discount or small gift.
3. Write Policies and Procedures
Implement business policies and procedures for each area of your business. This is especially valuable as your you grow beyond a one person operation and start to hire employees or virtual assistants. These policies and procedures are the instructions to reading and following the map. Then, when road blocks DO happen, you know where and how to create an alternate route or build a bridge. Anticipating road blocks despite an incredible map helps you navigate new terrain more easily.
4. Record and Remember
Keep a record of your business in your very own Business Bible. After all, you are the one with the plan. Note every facet of your business. This will serve as a reminder of your beginning, your ultimate destination, your smooth roads, your rough roads, and where alternate routes were made successfully and unsuccessfully. Consider a blog – private or public – for documenting your journey.
5. Never Stop Improving
Review and update your strategies routinely. Your business does not stay static. It can stagnate, though, if you are not focusing on and studying its potential for growth. This does not necessarily mean that you take your business beyond a small business status, but there should always be growth in some aspect of your company.
You may acquire new skills and services, new products, new customers or clients, new employees or contractors. Keep it moving forward so that your company never falls behind new trends in the constantly shifting business world.
It has been stated that going beyond your limits is done first by defining them. Therefore, take advantage of developing a strategic alignment for your freelance business. Make a map. Know where you are going and find the fastest, smartest, and most efficient route. Then, call your masseuse to reward yourself for getting out from under that big Mac truck.