How to achieve freelance growth isn’t exactly a new subject. In the past, FreeeUp has covered a variety of related topics, including building a profitable sales funnel and gaining more visibility on Google.
So many riffs on the same subject makes sense, right? After all, who wouldn’t want to grow their business?
Taking the Goal by the Horns
Recently, QuickBooks Self-Employed decided to look a little deeper — not just into the strategies contractors should employ to achieve freelance growth, but into the minds of everyday people working for themselves.
Do freelancers define their goals as measurable? How often do they hit said goals? And who should be commended or blamed when the business grows or flounders? If it’s been a while since you met the growth goals you set for your business, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.
Freelancers Tell All
How likely are you to hit your freelance goals?
Everyone needs goals, particularly in business. But when it comes to setting and achieving those goals, how are freelancers measuring up?
According to those who took the QuickBooks Self-Employed survey, 73% have measurable growth goals, albeit some more measurable than others. 12% said they have goals, but they’re not measurable, while 14% said they don’t have any goals for growing their business. The last 1% were unsure of what a growth goal was.
Despite the fact nearly three-quarters of the survey respondents felt they had measurable business goals, just 13% said they “always” hit their growth goals. On the flip side, 6% of the respondents said they “rarely” or “never” hit their growth goals. Everyone else fell somewhere in the middle, hitting their goals at least some of the time.
The Reason Behind the Success (or Failure)
Freelancers named several contributors when asked what led to them to achieve freelance growth:
- The quality of their products or services.
- Their business strategy.
- Their marketing.
When asked what factors reduced their freelance business’s growth, however, most respondents were unlikely to take the blame, pointing instead to outside forces like the economy, low demand, or increased competition.
Case in Point: Micah Matthews
Micah Matthews is a self-employed family photographer from Boise, Idaho. She’s been in business for two years and has as much reason as anyone to base her business’s success or failure on outside factors. When asked how much control she has over her business’s success, she says “every bit.”
“I am a photographer on the surface, but behind the scenes, I am a web designer, a marketer, an accountant, a networker, a business advisor, and an educator,” she says. “I am also providing a luxury service. No one NEEDS professional photos, and I work in a highly saturated industry with a low barrier to entry. I have to educate my clients on why they should want my service — and from me in particular.
I also am up against the client mindset that because they only see me face-to-face for a few hours, the service should be inexpensive. I have to demonstrate my value without explaining that the actual photographic work I do accounts for about 10% of my [work]. People can always find the money for things in which they place value, no matter the economy.”
3 Tips for Growing Your Freelance Business
Micah believes she is in full control over her business’s fate and offers other self-employed persons these tips for setting and achieving measurable growth goals.
1. Make your goals manageable.
Like the 73% of freelancers who said they set measurable goals, Micah uses these to guide her business choices. One goal she sets is the number of clients she plans on working with over the course of a year, which she says is more manageable than trying to plan for increased income.
“If I say I want to make $100,000 this year, that is a scary number,” she says. “If I say I need to find 100 clients at $1,000 each, that’s something I can put some energy behind.”
As a self-employed person, it’s up to you to not only know what your goals are but how to break them down into bite-sized pieces that will move the needle forward.
2. Adhere to a process that brings you joy.
There’s no sense in tying yourself to a process you hate, no matter the outcome. And when you work for yourself and set your own goals, it’s especially important to create a process that resonates with you. “Setting manageable goals is something I like to do,” says Micah. “I am a list-maker and like small goals because checking things off a list gives me great joy!”
Currently, Micah says she evaluates her business goals monthly and adjusts as she goes. As for the goals she defines as “measurable,” Micah says she prefers to look back at these goals yearly.
“My current business model is more seasonal, and I am working to even that out,” she says. “Once I have achieved that goal, I’d like to be setting goals and measuring growth on a quarterly basis.”
3. Give yourself the freedom to adjust your goals.
When asked if she always achieves the goals she sets for herself, Micah says it’s a mixed bag, but that’s not code for failure. “I’m not one to say something has failed,” she says. “I’d prefer to just adjust the goal date.” And that’s something more freelancers should feel empowered to do.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the importance of a deadline — even one that might be arbitrary and self-imposed. Then, when the goal isn’t achieved by that date, there’s a sense of failure around it, which can be emotionally and physically crippling for a business reliant on one person’s resilience and “stick-to-itiveness”.
To that, Micah says “Keep plugging along. Everyone goes through the growth stage at one point, and we get out what we put in.”
Danielle Higley has a BA in English literature and has spent her career writing and editing marketing materials for small businesses. She recently started an editorial consulting company. TSheets by QuickBooks is a time tracking and scheduling solution.