In today’s turbulent economic times, it’s important to have lower expenses and increased income – especially for teleworkers. While many independent contractors are getting more business, it’s still wise to make deliberate efforts to thrive. Here are some ways we will be able to do that:
Hold on to your clients. There will be the occasional client who will be slower in paying out invoices, or even clients who give up and stop requesting your services altogether. Take the time to identify which of your clients might do these things.
Watch for nervous clients that might see your services more as a luxury than a need. Then, formulate a plan to ensure that they will stay with you. Here’s what you’ll need to remind clients:
- You’re paying extra attention to their needs. Clients will appreciate knowing that you actually care about what happens to their business. Let them know that you’re open to hearing them out.
- The ROI (return of investment) you’ll provide. Remind your clients how much profit your services will bring to their business. They should focus on that number and rather than your rates.
- The many options available to them. Instead of offering a single quote at the end of your proposal, offer different packages and optional services so that they can choose the ones that are tailored to their needs and budget.
- Your authority. Why are you the go-to person for your client’s demographic and not anyone else? Is it because you’re part of that demographic yourself? Or is it because of your experience with hundreds of other similar clients?
For teleworking employees, now’s the time to be more assertive and upfront about what you contribute to the company. How much money are you saving the company each month just by teleworking? How has your productivity increased? Reminding your colleagues and your supervisors of how indispensable you are as a remote worker will decrease the possibility of being laid-off or called back to work in the office full-time.
Diversify your income. While you could be one of those lucky freelancers who are getting more business than ever, it won’t hurt to try some passive income to give your earnings a boost. Also, try to explore the different ways you can earn money online. Find out if there are services or products you can provide that you haven’t fully explored yet.
If possible, cut down on service and app subscriptions. Take the time to evaluate all the services and applications you are currently using, trim the non-essentials. If you find that you’re not using your landline at all, then why keep it? Stick with your mobile phone instead. Also, see if there are cheaper internet plans from other providers and search for reviews online. You might get a better deal elsewhere.
In an earlier post here at WWD, Aliza Sherman asked about how much we pay for web apps. I’m glad to say that I pay less than $10 per month for a web app, mostly because most of the apps I need are available for free. Find out which of your paid apps provide a return of investment, make you more efficient, and don’t have free alternatives. For the rest, see if you can find a cheaper payment plan or package.
Become more efficient with your time. This reduces computer use and lowers your energy consumption. Or, if you have both a desktop and a laptop, opt for using the laptop most of the time, since it uses 2/3 less energy.
It also helps to make an effort to be efficient especially with your non-billable hours. During your workweek, we spend some time filling up invoices, replying to emails, reading blogs about the industry we’re in, etc. Usually, we don’t bill for these minor work tasks. Because of this, it’s best to avoid distractions, such as playing Spider Solitaire, while doing these things.
Differentiate yourself. These days, many businesses are mostly focusing on the rates included in your proposal, rather than the proposal itself. This doesn’t mean you should lower your prices. Instead, be clear about why you’re worth it.
If you’re letting your branding plan gather dust in a file cabinet (as I have), it’s time to take that plan out and evaluate how it fits into the present. As you do that, try to answer the following questions:
- Why should a client pick you and not a much cheaper off-shore contractor?
- Do you have any extra training or experience that most contractors don’t have?
- Do all your promotional materials, from your website to your LinkedIn profile, communicate what makes you different?
Answering these questions will allow potential clients to differentiate you from the thousands of other freelancers who want to do business with them. Plus, they won’t be looking at you based on price alone.
Network. It’s time to overcome our solitary tendencies and make stronger business connections – and I don’t just mean following a thousand people on Twitter. There are businesses and individuals out there that fit your target market like a glove, but you just don’t know about them. Find them and make contact. You don’t have to sell your services on the first email or phone call. Get in touch first, and slowly build up from that.
Instead of being pessimistic about the financial crisis, we should take this opportunity to reevaluate our businesses and make them stronger. If we do this right, the most important outcome is that we’ll prove to ourselves that teleworking is as flexible and resilient as promised.
What are you doing to ensure financial security as a web worker? How has the economic downturn affected your business?