Once you've optimized your online presence, shaped your workflow and as your client list grows, your business model naturally changes. You might also begin to feel out of control. The good news is that it is because you ARE out of control! Your business has exceeded your know-how. As an independent professional, you have two choices ahead of you. One, grow as big as your workload demands you grow. Or two, try to hold your workload at its present level. The level you feel most comfortable. There is no shame in playing it safe and doing it the way you already know how to. However, if your ambition has also grown, do not cope with the increased workload by ‘just doing it.’ Rather than using time-saving systems, most independent consultants and freelancers have the inclination to be the master juggler of their business and it is not surprising that as complexity increases, the work expands beyond their ability to dedicate enough time and energy to their desired caliber.
Grow intelligently. If you are reading this, it is safe to assume that you are a professional with an ambition to reach a higher level of success and work-life balance. By the same token, you can’t expect your business to stay small. In order to thrive, you need to grow the number and frequency of clients so you can reach the volume of clients needed for a sustainable and scalable business. Employing automated systems like client management databases and lead generation solutions can give you back the time you would have used toward administrative work. But how do you figure out which approach is right for you?
Smart ways to grow:
First, you have to know your boundaries. Overconfidence can cause you to acquire marginal profit projects or take on too much work at once. Consider the infrastructure of your business and identify what can be automated or offloaded to people who can deliver the results for you.
Stay focused on a specific type of client. Start sticking to one or maybe two project/client types and master those arenas before you take on another. Improving business processes initially doesn't require you to have more staff. You just need to have more efficient processes and spend less time on each transaction.
Document and map out every single process you need to improve. Whenever you notice an activity happening more than just a couple of times, you should map it out and document your steps. The goal is to create a reminder checklist of predictable outcomes from start to finish and shrink the amount of administrative time spent on each client. As your business grows, so should your map.
Implement innovative solutions to improve your processes. We are living in the golden era of technology-enhanced business solutions and it’s not just for big corporations. From marketing to the sales process and online systems for building lead generation, there are technologies and services you can implement to help you save time and generate leads. This last step is crucial for you to consider as it will be what allows your business to grow while maintaining your work-life balance.
The challenge is that not every client is the same. Every business situation you take on has a unique challenge of their own. This is why you need to utilize smart growth patterns. You need to understand your capacity to grow and make sure you grow fast but only at a rate where you can improve your systems and implement the technology. Remember to test the approaches mentioned above. Document and track your process. Lastly, try to shrink the amount of time technology and available tools can shave off in every section.