Someone from my list had asked this question when I asked: “what are you struggling with right now?”
What’s great about this question is that it’s smart.
This is the line of thinking that turns freelancers into consultants.
It’s smart because a “contracting resource” is someone who’s hired out by presumably another business to fill the gaps in their own business.
For example, development shops hiring a developer to help with their overflow work.
Whereas a “solo business owner” is someone who has a specific customer that they go after and serve a specific solution towards. They may be a developer who can write PHP, but they stay to a specific kind of customer because of the service they provide.
For example, they only work with SaaS companies providing onboarding development within their application.
I had this exact question back in 2011. I had most of my client work coming by way of other agencies. I purposefully did this due to me working in agencies for close to a decade. So I understood their pain, but also knew that I didn’t have to do the sales end, which at that time I was not very comfortable doing.
In 2011 I realized that I was running a business where I had no control over the work, timelines, budgets, rates, and had left a full-time job of 1 boss, for a job that had 8.
The first thing I did was stop taking any new sub-contracting work. Sure I did work for existing clients, but any new agencies that came my way, I said no to.
I started seeking out through my network for projects that I knew I could do, which were specifically focused on ecommerce.
No longer did I want to work on employee directories, back-end applications, custom database applications on the front-end. Had no interest in doing those types of things.
So I focused solely on ecommerce, put up a simple landing page talking about it, and then had an online form to fill out.
This was the first time I started my own sales pipeline.
The second thing, and key to the success I had, was to network.
Business is all about the people, this was the time I really started to double-down on Twitter and jump into the conversations that I could help people answer some questions.
I had Bridget Willard on Live In The Feast. She’s a Twitter guru and helps her clients build their businesses using relationship marketing on Twitter. She unpacked a ton of tactics, which one of them is about creating lists and watching out for specific questions that you can answer.
I didn’t realize it then, but that’s exactly what I was doing. I would spend about 30 minutes a day on Twitter just jumping in and helping out.
It’s not fancy, but it’s the reality of business today. If it were 1950, I would’ve have been flipping through lead call lists and dialing. Except this day in age, people on social are there, complaining, telling you specifically what they are struggling with.
As a someone who is providing services, that’s a gold mine.
These 2 initial stepping stones were the genesis of my business today. Stop taking on new clients that I no longer wanted to work with. Then make a conscious effort to seek out those that I do want to work for.
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