Yesterday was the end of the tax year 2016/17, and although the tax return deadline is still a few months away, I decided to do some maths. I wanted to see whether last year I achieved business growth.
A lot has happened since the end of the previous tax year, so let me sum it up. First, in April last year I contributed to the creation and launch of the Business Solutions Centre, an advice centre for small businesses where I still work two afternoons a week. In May, I delivered the last piece of coursework for my Master’s degree. In June I started working in the Marketing Department of my university, helping out on several projects involving product marketing, copy editing, USP recognition and communication, among others. This lasted until January this year, when I really started working on my Master’s dissertation. No rest for the wicked, right?
As I was saying, yesterday I did some maths, and I was extremely pleased with what I saw.
Despite working in different roles and a Master’s dissertation to write, I was able to achieve a business growth of 11%. So, you might ask yourself, how did that happen?
New business skills
I worked hard on deepening my knowledge of marketing, business strategy, and communication. My studies have definitely helped, of course. But working with small businesses, and finding creative solutions for their problems, has allowed me to step back and take a more objective look at my own business. I’ve learnt that sometimes detaching yourself from your freelance business can be really beneficial. As freelancers, we tend to identify a lot with our businesses. As people, we tend to overlook potential problem areas that are dragging us down. Taking a step back and analysing your business can help you spot those problem areas and find ways to work on them.
This past year I’ve been networking like never before. I’ve been to translation conferences and language events, as well as events for freelancers, entrepreneurs and businesses. This has led to new clients, referrals and a lot of useful contacts. Since I’ve already talked about networking here, I won’t go in any more depth. Can I just say that networking is super-important once again? 😉
As a result of my participation in Silver Tongue’s Challenge 500, in January I assessed the state of my client pool. I realised that the rates agreed with a couple of clients had been the same for years. This meant that I had added value over time (new skills, a deeper knowledge of the subject matter, faster delivery, etc.) without adjusting my prices accordingly. All other clients were paying my current rate, which reflects my value added and my positioning. So I increased my rates with those clients, explaining the reasons behind it and communicating my value. It was scary, but it was a necessary move to achieve business growth. And it worked.
The secret to business growth and success
The secret to your business growth and success is one, and it’s simple. YOU are the secret to your business growth and success. As a freelancer, YOU are your own business. Unless you do something about it, your business is not going to grow substantially. Unless you do something about it, your business is not going to be successful. My best advice is to regularly assess your situation, develop your existing skills, learn new ones, and communicate your value effectively. And don’t forget to celebrate your own success: it will help you work towards the next goal with more determination.