September is now gone but it left me with some vital lessons about business.
If you are not marketing, you are not in business.
I think every freelancer should take the above quote and hang it over their desk. You cannot stop marketing and expect to survive for long. All of the marketing I worked on in August payed off this month with two new contracts.
In order to improve something, you must track it. Last month I said that my goal for September was to bill 60 hours for the month. I ended up missing my goal by only billing 40 hours, but this was from measuring the wrong number.
What I really wanted was to make the amount of revenue those 60 hours would represent. If I used that as my goal I would have hit it, because I worked on some fixed price contracts that brought in the revenue I wanted and took less time than what I estimated. From now on, I will measure something that is the result and not the cause of the behavior that I want.
What to expect in October
Now that my marketing is working in overdrive, I am having to focus on closing many of the sales that I have pending and finishing up the current projects. So following the “Get Clients Now” program I have been using, I am going to focus on the proposals and contacts I have to see if I can serve them better and close out two projects. Some of the daily and weekly actions I have setup for myself are:
- Follow up with 1 proposal a day
- Get a “No” every day
- Have one new newsletter subscriber per week
As part of my program I have to set a goal for the month. Since last month I was measuring the wrong number I decided to set my goal to be $7,000 in revenue for October. This is a huge stretch but I really think I can make it if I try my hardest. The good thing is by tracking my revenue, I am following what is really important to the long term survival of my business.
Some lessons I learned from this month:
- Track your sales cycle: Start to track how long it takes you from discussing a project until you have a signed contract for the project. This is the length of your sales cycle, I found mine is longer than 30 days. If I want to work on a project in November, then I have to market and start talking to customers about it right now.
- Time for your business: It is really hard to take time to work on your marketing and business tasks when you are swamped but you still have to put in some time everyday. The last two weeks of September I had so many things going on I really slacked off on my marketing and I am starting to see a little dip from that. Try to put aside a set amount of time everyday to work on things other than your customer’s projects, and make sure they are the important things.