I once worked for a developer who was building a beautiful new building in our town. We spent a lot of time looking at plans, and then model buildings, but I was always frustrated at how slow the process went.
Finally, one day I asked him why he didn’t just start building already, especially since I knew that he even had the permits and funding ready to go. He explained that he never built a building until he rented it all out BEFORE he laid even one brick. That way, he reduced his risk and was assured of 100% tenancy from the get-go. He was guaranteed to grow his business that way.
Like you, like many business people, he wanted to grow his business, but did not want to take a huge risk. That’s smart. The best entrepreneurs limit their risk as much as possible.
Smart Ways to Grow Your Business
1. Get bigger clients.
One of the best ways to grow your freelance business is to work with people and companies with more resources than those you work with now.
For instance, I know a real estate agent in Los Angeles who used to sell homes, but he didn’t start making the big bucks until he realized that for the same amount of time and effort, he could sell apartment houses that sold for five times what the houses sold for. He made the switch and yep, started making a lot more money.
Microsoft didn’t become Microsoft until Bill Gates sold the MS-DOS operating system to IBM for IBM’s new personal computer. The only problem was that Microsoft didn’t even own that operating system. After Gates got the contract, he went out and bought the system.
That is the value of getting big clients and big contracts – it allows you the resources to grow.
2. Find a teammate.
Having more people on your team can bring a lot to the party – contacts, money, and extra pair of hands, and someone with whom you can bounce off ideas. The whole can be greater than the sum of the parts.
For instance, after Chester Carlson invented a process to electronically copy documents, he was unable to sell it to the likes of GE, RCA, and IBM. Finally, Carlson met the man who would become his business partner – Joe Wilson. Wilson had the money, contacts, and business know-how that the inventor Carlson lacked. Wilson invested in the dream and eventually renamed Carlson’s process, and his company… to Xerox.
3. Get no-up-front-cost help.
OK, so you would rather not hire full-time help, then what about:
- Hiring a commissioned salesperson? It will only cost you something if the salesperson grows your business
- Bringing in interns? I have a pal who runs his whole business using college interns
- Hiring a part-time person? It is always wise to hedge your bets and start small if possible – rent the building out before building it, as it were. Here, consider hiring someone part time to see how it goes. If they help you grow, use them more.
- Hiring an independent contractor: Again, you only pay for the time you need, you don’t pay any benefits, and you could even structure it to pay more, or pay a bonus, upon extra special results.
4. Get free publicity.
Getting the local paper or TV station to do a story about your business can create huge results for very little up-front costs.
Peter Hodgson invented a goop that he tried to sell as a toy. No one bought it, that is, until a writer for the New Yorker stumbled upon the stuff and wrote about it in the magazine. Hodgson received 250,000 orders for Silly Putty in the next few days.
5. Advertise and market more.
Being in business for yourself is like being alone in a dark room – you know you are there, but no one else does. The only way to turn the light on, the only way to let them know you are out there, is by advertising and marketing. Once the calls start, you can hire the extra help.
6. Create new recipes.
You have a recipe for success; all freelance small business people do. But the great businesses, the ones that grow, create additional recipes. Example: Google could have been content with its recipe – search – but it was not. By creating more success recipes like Gmail, Google maps, etc, Google became Google.
The essential idea is to get more business, then hire the help, and not the other way around.