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Entrepreneurship in 2015 (Guest Blog by Amy Klimek of ZipRecruiter)

The following guest post comes to us from Amy Klimek, an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter. Enjoy her insights and expertise on the topic of entrepreneurship. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more about Amy and her business and to connect!


Entrepreneurship in 2015

Insights and Encouragement from an Expert

Entrepreneurship is equally rewarding as it is difficult. Though you may be free from the shackles of retail and corporate, such freedom comes with a price. As far as 2015 goes, the time has never been better for you to finally build that start-up you’ve always dreamed of having. Just be sure you understand the responsibility that is inextricably linked to power.

Start It
Too many people talk about their dreams but never act on them. They dedicate hours of the day envisioning that perfect business but never actually take the steps to achieve it only to regret their failure to act in their older years. For most, it’s fear that holds them back. Because we no longer have anything to fear, our mind makes up some that exist outside of our comfort zones. Anything that is not part of what it is used to is deemed impossible and not worth it. If you’re going to successfully start on your own path, it’s time to learn how to overcome that negative voice. Instead, use it to guide what precautionary steps you want to take to give yourself a safety net to fall into should something go wrong.


Understand the Competition
Now that you are putting together the research, you will inevitably come across blogs that give you reasons not to go after your dream and, specifically, the dream in your field. They all decry the sheer number of people vying for the same thing as reason enough to give up. Never listen to these people. If you wind up falling down a rabbit hole of negativity, stop researching for the day. What you need to realize is the reality of the situation. Those that generally enjoy what they do will share useful knowledge and be very positive about their accomplishments. The other 90% lack the talent and discipline required to succeed, no matter what credentials they try to throw at you. Instead, focus only on the 10%. These are the experts in their field. Though it will take you years to achieve what they have accomplished, they are great examples to look to for motivation and ideas.

10 Year Rule
Overnight sensations are a dream. The only people that earn this title are children that appear on television shows. What the media never reveals are the years of hard work the professionals put into their craft before they finally caught the public’s attention. Dubbed the “10 year rule”, John Hayes researched this phenomenon by taking the lives of famous artists (think Mozart) and statistically looking at how long it took each of them to begin producing their most famous pieces. In the end, 10 years was the magic number. Each and every master required a decade of dedication to their concentration before major success came into play. You are no different. Accept this and use it when you feel like you should just give up. Success takes time. It is a slow and steady pace that will get you to where you want to be.

Be Flexible
You might be the personality type that obsesses over every little detail, and with a venture into entrepreneurship, you’ve already plotted out every modicum of possibility. Unfortunately, this still won’t be enough to prepare for the future. Think big, plan small. Have a single goal in mind but do not be dead set on the path you take to get there. What may seem like something out of left field could turn out to be a well-placed opportunity that opens even more doors for you. Basically, pursue every avenue. As an entrepreneur, this translates into how you find your first clients. The importance of this lies in a single word: experience. If you haven’t already built a career in the corporate world, you are still young and lacking resume fodder that potential clients use as a means to judge your credibility. In these beginning years, you will not have much behind you and need to be willing to take on projects that don’t fit your ideal match but still bring some value to the brand.

Build What You Believe
As an entrepreneur, the world is your oyster. You are now free to pursue anything. While scary, it is nonetheless a freeing feeling. No longer are you wasting your time for someone else. You are working for you. A popular quote entrepreneurs cite describes that they would rather work 80 hours a week for themselves than 40 hours a week for someone else. When you focus on something that means a lot to you, 80 hours is still not enough time to devote. Yes, there will be days you wake up and wish you could just spend the day in front of the TV, but there are never days where you wake up and want to disappear. The stresses between business and freelance are different in many ways, but at least with freelance, success relies on your ability to work hard.

You Are Accountable
You are accountable for everything that happens, especially if you begin your run with just you heading up the fledgling business. This means that before you start reaching out to clients or hiring others to manage your affairs, you better have your own self-importance under control. Don’t think you can continue to take out your frustrations on others. They will no longer work with you. Don’t assume you can make excuses for a poorly completed project. You were the only one working on it. Instead, turn this accountability into a positive. Use it to continually better yourself and what you offer. If something goes wrong, assess what happened and make notes on how you can avoid the situation in the future. If you feel like berating others, take time away to understand why you are frustrated and what you can do to ease the tension. Turn everything into a learning exercise and you will be amazed at how far you can go on your own.

Amy KlimekAbout the Author: Amy Klimek is an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter, a company that simplifies the hiring process for small to medium size businesses. Prior to that, Amy has held similar roles at, eBay and US Interactive. For Amy, corporate culture isn’t about dogs and free lunches, it’s about empowering employees and creating an enriching environment for people to excel. Connect with ZipRecruiter on Twitter or Facebook.


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7 Steps to Financial Success for Young Entrepreneurs (Guest Blog by Dave Landry)

This week’s post comes to us from guest blogger, Dave Landry. Dave specially crafted this article for the Bennis Inc blog to assist fellow “amateur entrepreneurs” and guide them toward successful endeavors. Be sure to visit Dave’s business web site for more information on the many skills he has to offer. Enjoy!


For a young entrepreneur, every penny counts!

For a young entrepreneur, every penny counts!

In today’s economic environment, it is extremely important for a new breed of young entrepreneurs to take risks. As venture capital declines and direct investment opportunities increase, it really is a moment where new minds with elaborate new ideas can affect the world and embrace success.

With startup companies constantly appearing in the headlines, reports from the Kauffman Foundation show that startups have declined from 12 percent of all companies (since the 1980s) to less than 8 percent. It is now at its lowest point on record but as the Kauffman report writes “new firms and young businesses account for about 70 percent of gross job creation and disproportionately contribute to net job creation.”

Small business success is important to our economic recovery, adding a great amount of responsibility to those that are entrepreneurs. By taking the risk on new ideas that may become mainstream in the future, young entrepreneurs are incredibly vital to our economic system.

Here are seven extremely valuable tips for the young entrepreneur. By keeping these in mind, one can supply a focus to the difficult task of financially building upon your talent:

1. Create a star team

It is extremely vital to take as much time to create a team that will be strong for a startup. By honing in on strengths and weaknesses, a team can be formed over supplemental talents adding to its strength and focus.

2. Focus in on problems

Focus is what investors are most interested in. Creating a team that isolates problems, creates a proper strategy to execute a solution, and has a determined value is extremely useful for the starting entrepreneur.

3. Use failure as an inspiration

Everyday functioning for a startup can be filled with a certain amount of failures. Don’t unleash this frustration on colleagues, instead control your emotions. Mistakes can be used to coach others through their faults and toward future success.

4. Try not to work at home

Working from home can be amazing but it can also be constraining. If the lines of home life and work life are blurred, a young entrepreneur can become distracted and frustrated. If an office space seems too expensive, try sharing one or opting for a desk-for-a-day rental service that is priced well for an entrepreneur on a budget. It will also give you an added level of professionalism where you can meet clients in a real office setting.

5. Sharing Successes

A young entrepreneur should never feel the need to be too humble. Celebrating a success, no matter how big or small, inspires the team and makes investors and the public aware of your progress. By keeping a team happy through sharing each victory and by sharing them with your consumers/investors, everyone will feel a part of these small celebrations. Think of them as an adult equivalent of a gold star in elementary school!

6. Learn from past entrepreneurs

It’s important that a young entrepreneur learns from others. This can assist in starting a venture, save time and resources and most simply lend some aspiring wisdom! Literature by Venture Deals’ Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson are one helpful resources. Also try searching interviews or quotes from successful entrepreneurs such as Warren Buffett to hear how they overcame their career challenges.

7. Use spare time to reboot

Just like laptops need some time to rest, so do young entrepreneurs. By spending time with friends and family, or just getting some rest, someone approaching a new venture can utilize time away from work to approach their venture with invigorating motivation and a fresh mind.

dave landryDave Landry Jr. is a businessman and financial strategist. Be sure and visit to see what Dave and several others are doing to assist people during financial crises!


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Can You Earn a Million Dollars Honestly?

million dollars

Is Ben Franklin congratulating you or judging you?

You may have heard this quote from William Jennings Bryan, “No one can earn a million dollars honestly.” It’s quite a bold statement to make. Millionaires across the globe might take more offense to such an accusation…if only they weren’t already too busy enjoying their lavish vacations and  luxurious lifestyles. Joking aside, I wanted to dive a little deeper into the idea of whether or not you can earn a million dollars honestly. As a business owner and an aspiring millionaire (I can dream), I worry that such a big income carries an even bigger price tag. Must we compromise our values or risk selling ourselves short in pursuit of those six zeroes?

Earning a million dollars is something many of us will do over a lifetime. Spread out over years of work, it won’t make you a millionaire and – in this economy – it won’t afford you that stereotypical millionaire lifestyle either. My concern is that during our years of chasing after a healthy income, can we do so honestly or will we inevitably contradict some aspect of our business moral code? Here are two key instances in which I feel like though the money is “earned” it is not earned honestly.

Are you selling yourself short?

In an effort to sell as much as you can of your products, services or time, sometimes what you’re actually doing best is selling yourself short. You must always maintain a value for your time otherwise you risk giving it away for far too cheap or wasting it completely. For example, in an effort to gain a client, you may lower your prices. You may make that immediate sale, but you actually lose money in the long run with the opportunity cost of a future client that’s willing to pay you market value. I find this to be one of those instances in which the money earned here isn’t quite “honest.” Sure it’s in your bank account, but you’re left with a time deficit for what you’ve invested versus what you were paid. One way or another, you will have to reconcile this imbalance in your business ledger.

Are you doing a disservice to others?

I talked about selling ourselves short, but what about selling our clients short? This is another instance in which money is not quite earned honestly. For example, if you overcharge for your services, overbook your time or over promise your results all in an effort to earn a greater income, this is not money earned honestly. It is also a disservice to the client as much as it is to your business for they’re not likely to return to you in the future. You may have earned a small profit from them now, but in the long run you have missed out on a growing relationship and bigger opportunities.

I do believe that a million dollars (or more or less) can be earned honestly. But to do so, we must remain aware of the temptations that exist to cut corners or rush along the natural process of increasing our earning potential. This is no easy feat as dishonesty can be cleverly hidden or attractively wrapped inside good intentions. However, if we approach every decision and every client with the same level of integrity, we just might someday join the ranks of honest millionaires.


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Turning Freelance into Fulltime: Taking the Leap

This blog completes a series of 5 posts which outline and address a very valuable lesson for any industry or any career – how to turn your freelancing into a fulltime business. If you’re currently contracting out a set of skills or have at least thought about it, this can be the critical first step toward starting your own business. I invite you to join me each week as I share the 5 most important components needed to prepare for a successful transition from freelance to fulltime.

In case you missed it, read:

Establishing Professionalism

Getting Your Name Out There

Moving Away From One-Time Clients

Building a Client Base


Taking the Leap

Man leaping entrepreneur businessLast December when I wrote the post Entrepreneurial Survival Mode,” I talked about how sometimes you have to give yourself no option but to sink or swim in order to find that inner fire to make your business a success. I still believe this. But during my own journey from freelance to fulltime, I didn’t tie a blind fold and allow myself to walk off a cliff. Instead, I carefully calculated the jump before I ultimately made the leap into entrepreneurship. The most important concept I want you to take away from that previous post and now this one is that when you can take the leap – do it without hesitation and get ready to work for all you’re worth. It’s a bold and risky move, but it holds the possibility of the most rewarding career experience…creating something that’s all your own.

Here are the key steps I recommend to every almost-entrepreneur contemplating a leap of faith:

Crunch the numbers.

I still have the first spreadsheet I created with all of my expenses versus the meager income I would make if I turned my freelance business into my sole income. It’s a great reminder of where I started and where I’m never too far from to return. But most importantly, it was the assurance I needed to know that I could make ends meet even if everything about my business stayed the same (which of course I hoped that it would improve). When I reflect on this spreadsheet now, it still offers that same assurance that if all came crashing down, I could stay afloat. At this point in my entrepreneurial journey, I learned the skill of minimizing costs. On my spreadsheet I listed all of my current expenses with my fulltime job. I was paying for internet I never used, far too big of a Comcast package and a reserved parking spot at my apartment. Before I took the leap, I really crunched these numbers. I cancelled internet and began sharing with my neighbor for a fraction of the cost. I downgraded my TV (anticipating 80+ hours a week of work on my new business didn’t leave me much time for such luxuries anyhow). I discontinued my parking spot and as a city resident was able to get a parking pass right across the street for just $5 a year. I wasn’t as surprised with my ability to minimize costs as I was shocked with why I was ever throwing this money out the window to begin with.

When you first start your own business, don’t let anyone convince you that you immediately need to rent an office space, pay for a separate phone line or upgrade the speed of your internet. There are many ways to achieve the same results for little to no cost. Separate business needs from business wants. Later down the road when money comes, so will the corner office, fancy business cards and personal assistant. You simply don’t need these things for the first year…or first five years. How much money you have in the bank isn’t just about how much money you made, it’s about how much money you didn’t spend. Minimizing your expenses will help supplement a smaller income and make your leap less of a stretch.

Consider everything that will be affected.

A salaried, fulltime position has many benefits beyond the stable paycheck. Remember that as an entrepreneur your healthcare, 401K and taxes will become something you actively worry about. These will take research and a critical eye to determine the best option for you. For healthcare, I got lucky with my age. Until 26 I’m able to stay on my parents’ insurance plan for a very minimal cost each month. After that dreaded birthday, I’m not sure what I’ll do next but I do know there are more and more options every day for entrepreneurs and small business owners. I will likely talk to a local independent healthcare provider and outline my options. For retirement, I rolled my existing 401K into a Roth IRA. Again, it made the most sense for me for a variety of reasons, but do your research and talk to several people before landing on a plan. Finally there are taxes. I dread them more and more every year as what I pay goes up in proportion to my income. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to claim your earnings and pay taxes on them accordingly. For the first several years you may be able to get away with claiming your business as a loss or have enough deductions that you still get money back. But that can only last so long. Eventually you should consider paying taxes on a quarterly basis to lessen the blow come March  (which is by the way when business owners must file taxes—note this now and avoid a nasty letter from the IRS later).

My dad gave me the best advice when I first started making freelance money, “Spend only what you need and keep the rest in savings.” He meant this so I would always have enough to cover my taxes, but wouldn’t it be great if we all handled our money like this all of the time?

Have an emergency backup plan.

For some, a backup plan may seem like a way out. I’ve heard, and at times agree, with the theory that a safety net is only an excuse to fall. But for large enough leaps where you are risking your income, career and possibly all of your worldly possessions (not to mention sanity), a safety net is warranted. For me, my emergency backup plan came from solid relationships with past employers and key contacts who said that if I should ever decide to be available for fulltime hire, I have a standing offer for a position with them. This verbal reassurance from people who believed in my skill set was the emergency backup plan I am grateful to have never used. More than just the ability to find fulltime work should I need it, I also keep a financial “runway” of at least 3 months. By this, I mean I aim to keep enough funds in savings and in my business that if one day absolutely all income should go to zero, I would be able to continue living and spending in exactly the same way for 3 months. This is a substantial amount of time to find additional income, cut back on spending and make other adjustments to prevent depleting this runway, but it’s a comfort to know it exists.

The idea of having an emergency backup plan in place reminds me of the quote by Robert H. Schuller. “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”  This plan is not to give you an easy way out should things get too hard; it’s to give you the confidence to move forward fiercely and passionately. When you know your next step is not doomed to be your last, you can keep moving forward with courage.

Do it right – and don’t look back.

Once you outline a tight budget, decide how you’ll handle your healthcare, retirement and taxes and setup and emergency backup plan, you’re ready. As tempting as it may be to go out with bang, scream “I quit!” and throw everything off your desk onto the floor, resist the temptation. Your grand finale should be one with grace and professionalism that demonstrates to your employer and everyone else that you are destined to become a great entrepreneur. First, speak directly to your boss. Give them the honor of being the first to know your passion for your side business and plans to take it fulltime. Whether you hate them, don’t want to disappoint them or have no relationship with them, they deserve this respect. Once they’re on board, they can become your advocate and guide you through the process of leaving. Depending on the structure of your business, you may need to speak with the Human Resources Director to place your 2-weeks’ notice. For me, I was also required to write a resignation letter (which felt absolutely wonderful to sign). Going through the proper process of resigning from your job allows everyone to be aware of why you’re leaving and to celebrate with you. It also allows you to take advantage of things like using vacation days, selling back sick days and getting that final pay check 2 weeks after you finished working. By leaving on the right foot, you’ll also start your new business on the right foot. And if you haven’t learned already, this world is a small place and you never know who you’ll see (or have to work with) again.

Once you properly end your fulltime job, that’s it. It’s all you now. During your first year it’s natural to be reminded of your old job by every season, holiday or co-worker’s birthday that would have been a special mile marker. But you have new mile markers now. Don’t look back or keep track of where you might have been had you not taken the leap. The fact is, you did take the leap and every ounce of you should be focused on sticking that landing rather than trying to backpedal mid-air.

Have you enjoyed the 5-part series, “Turning Freelance Into Fulltime?” If so, share this with a freelancer or entrepreneur you know! This wisdom was gained through my own rough and wild personal experiences and I only wish to use it to help others navigate their similar journey. Thank you for reading along.


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Turning Freelance into Fulltime: Building a Client Base

This blog continues a series of 5 posts which outline and address a very valuable lesson for any industry or any career – how to turn your freelancing into a fulltime business. If you’re currently contracting out a set of skills or have at least thought about it, this can be the critical first step toward starting your own business. I invite you to join me each week as I share the 5 most important components needed to prepare for a successful transition from freelance to fulltime.

In case you missed it, read:

Establishing Professionalism

Getting Your Name Out There

Moving Away From One-Time Clients


Building A Client Base

rolodex business card client baseThe two previous posts, “Getting Your Name Out There” and “Moving Away From One-Time Projects” are both aimed toward the ultimate goal of building a solid client base. Reaching this goal is more than just having your business known in the local community; it’s taking it to that next critical level of getting people to actually hire you. While many aspects about taking your business from freelance to fulltime will be about building a professional brand, this particular component will most directly affect your business’s bottom line – or more accurately, its “life line.” You need to have a core client base which can provide you with a stable income while so many other aspects of your business are fluid and ever-changing. So how do you begin to build this base of paying clients? It only needs to begin with one. From there you can implement these following steps to turn this single brick into a solid foundation for your business.

Ask your existing client(s) for leads.

Your first one or two clients are much more than a desperately needed paycheck. They are a source of potential leads for new clients. Not only can they speak to your business from a firsthand experience, they are also likely to have connections in similar situations where your services could be of great value. If you are a freelance writer and one of your clients is a commercial video production company that often hires you for script writing, they are likely also connected to other video production companies that could use a freelance writer. My own client base was built in a similar way – through word-of-mouth recommendations from current and past clients. Because of my background in political campaigns, I secured my first freelance political client who I helped with public relations and planning fundraisers. At the fundraiser, many of his fellow colleagues who are also elected officials were fascinated with the services they could contract out to me. This single client helped me break into a unique area that has consistently grown my business ever since. I am also lucky that it’s an area I truly enjoy. When I first began my freelance Public Relations business during my senior year in college, I knew little to nothing about political campaigns nor did I have an interest in them. Yet with a single client, I established a whole new branch of my business. When looking to build your own client base, don’t overlook the obvious or easy. Ask your existing clients for leads from their own network who might be interested in your services. Better yet, ask them to connect you directly by personal email. If the initial introduction to your business is made by someone that the lead knows and trusts, it won’t be as easy to brush it off as a cold sales call and will speak volumes for the quality of your work.

Identify your niche.

When using existing clients as a building block for new clients, it’s natural that a pattern of businesses with whom you work most frequently will emerge. Allow this to build organically for some time before taking a critical look at what these patterns mean for the direction of your business. Essentially, you will now need to identify your niche and embrace it. Identifying your niche is not a limitation or a blinder for future business. You can and should seek out projects from all directions as you never know when this could tap into a new reservoir of work. But a niche will allow you to target many aspects of your business’s branding and marketing to appeal to this niche and establish your expertise within it. Say you make custom invitations to sell on Esty and begin to track that the most orders you receive are for wedding invitations. You can focus your web site content, social media and portfolio on wedding-related stationary. You may also choose to attend more bridal shows and advertise in bridal publications or on wedding web sites. This focus will allow you to place your time and effort in the area in which you are most likely to secure future clients. In the client building process your focus may form a spotlight on your niche, but don’t completely turn out the lights on all other categories of services. Remember that the bride you created invitations for will someday be interested in birthday and baby show invites or holiday cards. Make sure even current clients are aware of the full scope of services you offer.

Introduce and incentivize.

Once you’ve reached out to your existing clients for recommendations and have focused on your niches, next comes strategically introducing your business to potential clients. There are various ways in which you can accomplish this and the method will depend upon your type of business and the clients you’re trying to reach. One common method is a letter written to the business owner which serves as a friendly introduction to you are and what you do. This should go out to all businesses which fall within your niche or with whom you’d like to work. The letter should close with a realistic call to action. This can be as simple as inviting them to visit your web site or alerting them that you will be following up by phone in the coming weeks. If you’re in the position to do so, including an incentive such as a discount or free trial for one of your services is a very effective way to get a response. I’ve written such letters for several clients and we’ve seen some amazing results. The more personal you can make it (add in details specific to the person or their business) the more likely you are to receive a response. People want to feel that it’s genuine and not a form letter sent to hundreds of other businesses. Finally, by providing an incentive to try out your services, you reduce the risk of the unknown and take one step closer toward gaining a new client.

Stay tuned as the “Turning Freelance Into Fulltime” blog series continues with: Taking The Leap


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Turning Freelance into Fulltime: Moving Away From One-Time Projects

This blog continues a series of 5 posts which outline and address a very valuable lesson for any industry or any career – how to turn your freelancing into a fulltime business. If you’re currently contracting out a set of skills or have at least thought about it, this can be the critical first step toward starting your own business. I invite you to join me each week as I share the 5 most important components needed to prepare for a successful transition from freelance to fulltime.

In case you missed it, read:

Establishing Professionalism

Getting Your Name Out There


Moving Away From One-Time Projects

busy full calendar monthly clients

Often freelancers are hired for a single project that is pre-defined in both scope and pay. If the project was ongoing or needed regular maintenance, that business would just hire a fulltime in-house employee instead, right? Not always. Some businesses still have the need for a fulltime employee but may lack the office space or sizeable pay to do so. This is where being able to offer a contracted service is so valuable. You can provide as much time and skill as a salaried employee, but at a much lower cost because you don’t require a workspace, benefits or consistent 40 hours a week of work. To turn a freelance business into a fulltime career, you need consistent pay or in other words, consistent work. Instead of living on a hope and prayer from one project to the next, begin building a reoccurring client list to add stability to your income.

Identify An Ongoing Need.

When you want to move away from a pay-per-project basis, sometimes you need to be one to identify an ongoing need in which you can address. Essentially, you need to put yourself in the position of that business owner. Ask, “What are their long term goals, reoccurring problems or limitations?” Once you’ve uncovered these valuable issues, look for areas in which the services you offer can align with resolving them. For example, a graphic design artist doesn’t have to wait around for the next client who needs a logo or promotional material put together – these tend to be isolated, one-time projects. With some creative thinking and researching you might discover that the client also updates their website homepage graphic on a monthly basis or regularly includes infographics in their weekly blog posts. This presents the opportunity for an ongoing contract in which you can provide these services on a reoccurring basis. No matter what your freelance business offers, there’s almost always the opportunity to become a regular contractor if you look closely.

Create Your Own Position.

Once you’ve identified a client’s ongoing need, you’ll next need to package your services in such a way that they create a valuable position that your client will want to fill – and do so by hiring you. Start organizing your ideas by writing them down. What can you offer on a regular basis? If you’re a freelance writer, this could be weekly blog posts, website content writing and formatting a monthly email newsletter. Be specific in what you’ll bring to the table and remember to include things like monthly client conference calls, unlimited email communication and projects guaranteed to be completed by a certain deadline every month. These will help to make the position look less like a freelancer and more like a real employee. By doing this, you will have essentially created a proposal in which you will need to pitch. For any freelancer, the first time you pitch to a client can be role reversal that takes some getting used to. Often you’re the one being pursued for work, now you’re the one pursuing a client for work.

Learn to Pitch.

You identified a need, you created a job proposal, now you need to pitch it – and hope you hit it out of the park. First, be sure your client is expecting a proposal for your work. If you’ve worked with them on several projects before, you can easily initiate a conversation in which you explain what you’d like to do. You want to offer them your services on a reoccurring basis to maximize their business goals. Once they’re aware of your intentions and are expecting your proposal, schedule a time to meet with them in person (if feasible) or a time you can connect for a conference call. In either scenario, email them a PDF of your proposal before your meeting so they can review what you’re offering and bring up any questions they may have at that time. This simply removes the back and forth that can often occur later. After your meeting, set a time frame for follow-up that works for both of you. This can be another call or just an email. This follow-up should confirm whether or not they are interested in hiring you as a regular contractor. During the whole pitching process, answer any phone calls or email within one business day. This sets the first standard for how responsive you would be if hired and clients will take this into consideration. Once you’re comfortable with the proposal and pitching process, you’ll be well on your way to securing more ongoing projects and this will also become a very useful skill once you take your business fulltime. Want more information? Click here to read the popular Bennis Inc Blog post, “Protecting Your Pitch.”

Think “Value Added.”

When turning one-time projects into reoccurring clients, your energy is best spent answering the question “What can I gain by hiring you on a regular basis?” Depending on your services and the situation, the possibilities are endless. Most commonly your answers will be among the following. A client will be able to focus more time on running their business by not always looking for freelancers every time a new project should arise. They will save money by using multiple services from one person. You will both develop a working relationship that will allow you to understand each other’s communication style and work together most effectively. I refer to this as “value added” or the value that is above and beyond the services in which you’re being paid to perform. If a client can understand the value you bring to the table that is at no extra charge to them – but can often become invaluable – then you are far more likely to secure them as a reoccurring client. Because there really isn’t a place to emphasize the value added services in a proposal, they’re best communicated when you’re pitching to your client. Make a strong case for yourself! Think of every client as one step toward taking your freelance business fulltime and put this passion into your proposal.

Stay tuned as the “Turning Freelance Into Fulltime” blog series continues with: Building a Client Base


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Turning Freelance into Fulltime: Getting Your Name Out There

This blog continues a series of 5 posts which outline and address a very valuable lesson for any industry or any career – how to turn your freelancing into a fulltime business. If you’re currently contracting out a set of skills or have at least thought about it, this can be the critical first step toward starting your own business. I invite you to join me each week as I share the 5 most important components needed to prepare for a successful transition from freelance to fulltime.

In case you missed it, read:

Establishing Professionalism


Getting Your Name Out There

get your name out there name tagGetting comfortable with confidently talking about your freelance business can be awkward and challenging, but is an essential part of getting your name out there. Often this also means opening yourself up for rejection or dismissal – after all, you’re not yet a “real business” in the eyes of many. If you wait to build a network, you’re only putting yourself months or years behind when you do take your business fulltime. It’s never too early to begin. So how can a freelance business establish a name and a reputation strong enough to compete among the best? The following steps are what I stumbled upon as the most effective way to establish my name in the local market when I was still freelancing:

1. Weave it naturally into any conversation you can.

People can’t know what you don’t tell them, so don’t be shy about sharing the skills you offer on the side. Whether you’re at a dinner, the bar or the bank, if you see an opportunity to connect with someone who could be a potential client or put you in contact with some, it’s worth mentioning what you do – even on the side. You never know who is listening or what you’re saying that could resonate with someone. Be sure to practice a smooth 1-2 sentence explanation as to what you do that you can delivery clearly and confidently. Also, think of adding in a unique or memorable tidbit like, “I first began my side business in college and have since worked with clients from several different states,” or “I just opened a shop on Etsy and custom-make every product.” This not only qualifies your business, but makes you stand out. As a note of caution, be sure to look for natural segways in the conversation that allow for the topic to be brought up. An unnatural insertion can make you look desperate or unprofessional. Start with asking them what they do and when they ask you in return, there’s your green light.

2. Join local networking groups, but limit them to ones that best serve your business.

There a myriad of networking and business development groups at the local, state and national level. Don’t be tempted to join every single one. Think quality over quantity. As a freelancer your time is more valuable than ever – trying to juggle a fulltime job, side business, family life and everything in between. The time you can dedicate to joining networking groups is best spent divided between 2-3 groups maximum. If you pay the dues but are spread too thin to attend any of the meetings, this is a waste of money and potentially a bad reflection on your business. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to category-specific networking group in my area right around the time I went fulltime. This type of networking group is unique in that only one business can represent a category. What this does is create a small “community” of businesses who feed clients to each other. Without competing businesses in the same networking group there’s no conflict of who gets what recommendations. These are often non-dues paying with the idea that you earn your membership by sharing leads. This group meets weekly and has better turnout than most monthly groups with a membership 4 times its size. It’s a large time commitment but also produces consistent results for my business. Because of this, I am only a member of one networking group – and I give it my all. Depending upon your business and what’s offered in your area, a different combination of networking groups might make more sense. The bottom line is to do your research, give each of them a try and know when to stay or when to leave.

3. Ask close family and friends to spread the word.

This may seem overly obvious, but often the best ideas are. Your family and friends have a vested interest in seeing you and your business succeed. They can also speak intimately about your character and skill set. Let them be your mouthpiece and plug your business for you. Even just 4-5 people talking to their networks, increases your network exponentially. I remember creating a little half-page handout for my mom to share about my business. She knew a lot of fellow business owners back in my hometown that could benefit from my consulting work and she did as any mother word – she promoted it. Also, whenever anyone asked what I was doing or where I was working, she remembered to mention that I was also running a side business. Prompting your family and friends to do the same will help the word spread in many different directions and to many potential clients.

Stay tuned as the “Turning Freelance Into Fulltime” blog series continues with: Moving Away From One-Time Projects


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