What You Need To Know To Love Your Business Again
The most successful Freelancers in the WordPress community are those who stepped back to objectively analyze their business model. These freelancers examined all the types of activities that would be necessary for customer acquisition, project delivery, and follow-up.
A successful freelance practice has a defined workflow, a very clear description of their ideal client, manages the business with automation tools where possible, and follows a written process plan.
Before you say, “I don’t have time for that!” please note that the most admired professionals in the WordPress community — you know, the ones with weekends off and can pay their own way to the profession conferences you read about, did just that. They invested the time to step back and figure out how to do it right, and then looked for how to do it better, and finally become an example of Best Practices.
You can not do what you have always done…and expect a different outcome
If you truly want to build a sustainable business that you love, you need to blast yourself out of your comfort zone and look at every task you perform objectively. It is time to introduce continuous, incremental improvements to your business. Over time, these process improvements will improve your customer service and help you rediscover the joy in doing what you are best at.
Streamlining your Freelance WordPress Business
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
— W. Edwards Deming
As a Freelancer, if you don’t have an understanding of your business processes, you do not know how you’re doing. In order to build an efficient and profitable Freelance Practice, that easily sustains you while allowing for personal time and weekends off, you must to build capacity and deliver value to your customers. To accomplish those goals, and learn to Love Your Business Again your business processes will have to be reviewed, documented and improved.
Here are four basic steps every freelancer can take to improve your business processes.
Define Your Current Business Processes
You can’t figure out how to get to where you want to go until you know where you are. Record a step-by-step description of each business process, including all the people, documentation and systems involved. This activity is best tackled by involving everyone using with the process, including your customers, contractors vendors, and suppliers. You can identify opportunities for process improvement by asking questions like:
Which parts of the process are broken and which parts are still working well?
Which parts create barriers and roadblocks that hinder completion of the overall process?
Which parts are the most time-consuming and redundant, resulting in frustrating delays and repetition of tasks?
Which parts result in unnecessary cost increases and/or wasteful allocation of resources?
I know from experience that when you call a client or vendor and ask them to help you improve your business process to better serve them, they are very willing to support your efforts. It can be a great way to share your vision for your business with outside stakeholders.
Determine Customer Value
Once you understand how your processes are currently working, look for ways to make to improve them. The critical question to ask at this stage is whether the identified business processes are adding customer value. How do you identify activities and processes that add customer value and those that do not add value? All activities in an organization, even in a one-person Freelance Practice can be grouped into two categories:
value-added (VA) activities, and
non-value-added (NVA) activities.
A value-added activity can simply be defined as something a customer is willing to pay to receive, either as part of the delivery of a product/service or something considered to be necessary overhead by the customer. Ask yourself, If you were a customer, would you want to pay for it? If a customer is not willing to pay for it, then there is no value — it’s just that simple.
Measure the Effectiveness of the Process
Measuring each of your businesses processes provides you with a baseline metric, with which you can measure the results process improvements. Look for ways to measure things such as service levels, productivity or throughput at regular intervals. Set targets for each metric so you know what is expected in terms of performance. Re-visit these metrics and increase the targets as your business grows and operations change to encourage continuous improvement. The effectiveness of the process lies in being able to provide the desired output as needed by your customer at the right time, the right way and at the right place and more importantly at the right cost. All of which leads to customer retention.
Strive to Continuously Improve
There is a reason we call it ‘continuous’ process improvement. I’ve been working with process management for decades and have never once been witness to an “overnight” improvement. I’m asking you to make a commitment to continuous improvement that builds your Freelance Practice in such a way that it’s a combination of agile and process-oriented thinking. As you freelance business begins to thrive, keep in mind that that business process Improvement is all about the journey, not the destination, there is nothing ‘one and done’ about building a success freelance business. You will learn that good system eliminate stress, increase profitability, and best of all will give you back your weekends…Who knows you might even have to time to speak at a conference.