There’s tons of analogies for freelance businesses out there, but this one stands out because you can take action on it right now.
I just ran across it in a pipeline coaching program. It’s from Donald Miller’s book, How to Grow Your Small Business (check out the summary on the BlackFreelance Blinkist Shared Space)…
…it’s the Airplane.
I love the airplane analogy because, by its nature, it imposes the idea that you need basic elements to get off the ground. IMO, too many freelancers get going with just one or two pieces (usually the wings…you’ll see what I mean), and hope that the rest works itself out.
But it’s most useful for freelancers because it helps us think out the different elements of our business in a way that provides solid context. Here’s how it’s broken down…
Cockpit: Leadership & Strategy
The foundation of your freelance business (and why the BF Strategy Workbook is free)…this is where you take responsibility for the health of your business and how it impacts your life. It’s where you set direction and intent.
It’s THEE most important mental shift you’ll make when moving out of an employee mindset…and it’s a good idea to start well before you take any action to start a formal freelance business.
That’s because employment conditions us to take off with destination in mind and “just trust the winds” to guide us to somewhere we want to be…unfortunately this is a great way to end up in a place that’s potentially even worse than employment.
This is one of the first things you’ll decide on as you work your way through the Workbook here.
It might shift over the years, but it’s something you want to be extremely clear on at all times…don’t treat yourself like the employers who will have you doing anything and everything. That’s how you end up an “order taker” freelancer, and you don’t want that.
Pro tip: Take the easy route to validating your service in the market by rooting your service choices in employment.
Engines: Marketing & Sales
Your processes should be well designed, well maintained, and you should have clear metrics. That might sound intimidating, but I promise…as someone who hates sales…you can learn all of this in a way that fits your personality and strengths. (The number of freelance professional development resources available out here is pretty significant.)
Body: Operations & Expenses
You should be paying yourself well as a freelancer and it starts here.
Managing expenses and the general flow of your business is the “weight” your plane is carrying, and this is where you make the critical decisions to balance and optimize that load.
Fuel: Cash flows
Yep…it really is this important to understand your freelance cash flows.
Your “fuel” ties back to a lot of business decisions, from how you price your services, to billing practices, and contracts. It’s something that’s worth reporting on regularly so you can make necessary adjustments. (Your accounting software or accountant should be a key resource here.)
Keeping up with all that might seem daunting, but it’s exactly why the BlackFreelance Mastermind group rotates through it all once every quarter…automating oversight of the core elements of your freelance business. Swing by for your free trial.