How Can You Stabilize Your Small Practice?

If you are a freelancer, independent consultant (like me) or a small business offering marketing services to companies, then this blog speaks directly to your #1 problem. That is, stabilizing your business to yield consistent and profitable revenue.

Unlike most businesses that sell widgets or commodity items with a known value, we sell ideas and thinking. And specifying a project's thinking to outline the needed talent and money requires clients who have been there and already know the general parameters of the work we bring to the table. In other words, educated clients who truly understand the services we offer are getting scarcer.

This brings me to one of the causes for poor stability with freelancing. New business requires an inordinate amount of time, money and effort to acquire for the independent or two man shops.

Compounding this challenge for freelancers includes other related problems.

    •    As professional thinkers, we lack interest in selling on a daily basis. This is not our strong point. We want to practice our trade and hope referrals will be sufficient in bringing a steady flow of assignments. But 95% of the time, this does not happen, regardless of the level of our expertise.

    •    Knowing that we do not like new business activity, we stop all networking and contact efforts when we are overloaded with work. After all, we have to implement what we sell. We really don't have the time for new business even though we know better. So we experience these incredible swings between too much to do to very little to do.

    •    As very small businesses, we have insufficient capital to advertise online with SEM services or paid search or any other form of advertising that professionals might want to use. Added to this are leads form prospects that are not qualified and want to trade time for equity in high risk start ups or pay inadequate fees.

    •    We are further challenged by undisciplined prospects or clients who have stagnant businesses and want marketing help in three easy lessons with a magic bullet. Then when you have pity on them and provide some sound advice, they will say that they tried that already and it didn't work. And upon cursory examination, it is clear the client implemented the idea without skill and overlooked elements essential to success. All they really want is for you to parrot their own, unsuccessful ideas.

Fortunately, there are some smart and reasonable clients out there. But how do we find more of the them without breaking the bank? What efforts have you used to attract new clients? We are all eager to learn better ways to stabilize our assignment flows.

Posted on April 11, 2008 and filed under General.