With our world currently filled with uncertainty, most professionals are faced with some of the greatest challenges their businesses have ever faced. Everyone is looking for some sort of relief for their business or, at least, new ways to improve their workflow. Freelancers are no exception.
We have previously shared how setting your money mindset can make dramatic alterations to your life at large. The same is true for your business.
By carefully examining each facet of your freelance operation, you will, undoubtedly, find portions that require more attention than others. In this article, we will take a look at eight different ways you can decrease your monthly spending, optimize your productivity, and maintain the eagle-like focus required of all entrepreneurs.
So, regardless of the nature of your sole proprietorship, here are some freelancing tips we have found that will not only aid your business today but better prepare you for tomorrow.
Take a Look at Your Expenses
It can be easy to overlook the little things when it comes to managing your expenses. We’ve all lost track of a qualifying cost at least once: a client lunch here, extra sticky notes there. It does not matter if you are at the office or at home; sometimes, small factors fall through the cracks. You can combat this by keeping a digital log in a document, spreadsheet, or another form of organization.
Many of these feature collaborative permissions so you can pick and choose who you would like to work on key contracts and reports.
Another way to keep track of your monthly business spending reports is by using a designated expense management application. Many of these offer a faster, less complicated way to monitor just where your money is going.
While a lot of these are designed to handle multiple employees at a larger company than your operation, they still provide freelancers with the same time-saving benefits that will give you more time to focus on your craft.
Restructure Your Finances
Now that you can monitor your added expenses, let’s take a look at your overall freelancing finances. There are likely plenty of times when you are forced to bring in a collaborator or an independent contractor to assist on a specific element of your latest job. Maybe you have to pay your cousin to help you finish an overwhelming job that is eating up your valuable time. Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to pay someone else.
This money directly affects your own payroll. If you are not careful, you can lose track of your finances fast.
However, tracking elements like payroll, taxes, and general cash flow can be overwhelming. You may want to open a business banking account to separate your business from personal finances.
Everything from expense reports to bookkeeping can be managed from one place. This way, as you continue to grow your operation as a freelancer, you will set yourself up for success in the long-term.
Buy Used or Refurbished Gear
When you are first starting out on your freelance adventure, it can be tempting to want the latest and greatest tools available for your skillset. Plenty of professionals will state that one product or brand is greater than the other.
Online videos persuasively outline why spending more money on a name brand or professional grade product makes all the difference between appearing as an amateur and elevating your work to the next level.
Despite any strong cases these resources may seem to provide, the fact of the matter is not everyone is going to have access to some of these tools, nor will they be able to afford them right out of the gate.
Take into consideration your current financial situation and use what is available to you. Search local businesses or online retailers for used or refurbished equipment that will still allow you to complete your tasks. Additionally, using online resources can go a long way for someone at the beginning of their career journey by helping them complete projects and stay organized inexpensively.
Clients will be impressed with your ingenuity and creativity, as well. Down the road, you may wish to upgrade to the aforementioned name-brand gear, once you are more financially able to do so. For now, use what is available and push it to the limit.
Search for Discounts and Sales
As you start to expand your freelance operation, you may find that there are still ways you could save some more money without sacrificing the quality of your work. Similar to using refurbished gear or cheaper resources, try looking for discounts on the tools needed for your job description.
Online retailers will sometimes have member-exclusive deals once you subscribe to their newsletter or obtain a rewards account. If you happen to be a student freelancer this can also be used to your advantage.
Seeking out sales and discounts for equipment is certainly one helpful way to cut a few corners, but how can you use that same mindset in terms of your clientele? Providing your customers with package deals, bundles, or new client discounts is another way to impress.
If they are happy with your work they are more likely to hire you again or sign a multiple product deals with you. So, burn that midnight oil and put your best foot forward. It is called a side “hustle” for a reason.
Organize Your Workflow
Now that you have learned some ways to save your operation some money, let’s shift gears and focus on ways to save you time. Working on your own as an entrepreneur is no easy task. It can prove difficult to manage priorities and where you should focus your resources first.
Start off by taking a look at your workflow. You may find you are more disorganized than you had previously thought.
Every project you work on should be cataloged in its own designated location. Maybe you like using folders on your desktop, keeping physical copies in a filing cabinet, or collecting individual files into labeled external storage devices.
Regardless of your preference, having a system, and sticking to it, will allow you to keep all related projects together, making it easier for you to complete a task, make edits, or search through your records if need be.
Now that you are a bit more structured in your workflow, you may be wondering if there are any other ways that you can save yourself some time while working. You can try a time-tracking program that’s available for those who want to track every minute of every day. Others may find it as simple as eliminating time-wasters like social media and television programming.
Map out exactly how you would like to tackle your daily challenges. You could write everything down in a planner, set up reminders on your mobile device, or do a little bit of both. Setting a daily routine, and adhering to it, will help you gain momentum as you continue to build your pipeline and expand your freelance business.
A messy workflow can overwhelm and distract. Maintaining a structure that works for you will help the rhythm of your workday and, consequently, your personal life, as well.
Stay Motivated and Focused
Hopefully, the previous tips in organization and time management have allowed you to gain more motivation and focus in your day-to-day. However, we all know that staying on task can prove nearly impossible especially in today’s work-at-home environment.
Remembering that our mindset directly correlates to our productivity and financial success, we can assume that a positive outlook will garner positive results.
One great way to stay motivated is to hone in on your priorities. By sorting through each of your tasks and completing them one at a time, your brain is forced to do nothing but finish what you start. Once you are done, then you can go down your list of projects and start the process all over again.
This can sometimes be easier said than done, so find something to reward yourself with once you have completed arduous tasks that you would much rather put off until the next day.
The endorphins released once you feel that sense of rewarded accomplishment will justify completing it today.
Map out Long-Term Goals… and Short-Term
By learning to financially restructure, organize your workflow, better manage your time, and to self-motivate, you will undoubtedly see improvements in your daily performance.
What about the future? How can you start planning today for a more successful tomorrow?
Setting clear goals for what direction you would like your career to take will help you prepare for what’s next.
A SMART goal can make your future business ventures specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Whether it is one, five, ten, or twenty years away, setting checkpoints for you to achieve as you grow your business will provide you with a clear road map and dictate what steps you need to take today.
Freelancers everywhere are finding new ways to adjust to the global pandemic. By reviewing these tips and applying them to your daily life, you should find yourself saving time and money providing your clients with the best work possible. Stay positive, continue to streamline your workflow, and set clear, attainable goals, and success will be almost guaranteed– even amidst the current hardships of social distancing.