There are going to be defining moments within the operation of your business that make or break a year. There are two crucial components in obtaining the fortunate task of making a decisive choice for your business. The first component is acquiring the opportunity to make a decision while the second component is figuring out which path to walk.
Whether your defining moment is choosing between two separate projects, two separate clients, prioritizing of tasks or delegation of project duties to team members; the following 10 steps will help you in making the optimum choice between two or three or four or more options.
1) Pro-Bono vs. Paid
Sometimes we are faced with a seemingly “no-brainer” choice to make. One client says that we are going to be paid in money and the other client states that we will be paid in other methods. The answer for so many professionals is always the same “choose the paying client”. I am here to tell you that sometimes (not always) the paying client could potentially be the least advantages decision to make. There are some obvious things to consider when making the risky decision of accepting a ‘Pro-bono’ project over a paying project.
Time commitment – Does this project require a major time investment? Could this project be answered using a simple template solution for a quick turn around followed up by moving forward with the paid client project?
References and exposure – Use online tools or personal connections to understand if this pro-bono project is going to give your brand some much needed exposure. Perhaps the pro-bono project will deliver you a heavy amount of exposure due to its high profile nature in comparison to the paid client.
Portfolio enhancement – I don’t want to say that this is the norm but I have seen a lot of pro-bono projects end abruptly because the “client” wasn’t happy about the direction of the project. Personally I believe that if your delivering pro-bono work you should have slightly more freedom to demonstrate your creative potential than if say a client was paying for the services. If you are transparent with your client up front and find that you have an opportunity to truly express your creative production potential than a pro-bono project could be a great portfolio enhancer.
Service exchange – This is always something I cringe at when a client brings this up as an option during early interchanges. The problem with a service exchange generally is the lopsided nature of receipt of services. One service rarely matches another service in terms of value and even when a client attempts to scale up or down to your value, it rarely concludes as clean as originally intended. My advice here is to move away from service exchanges unless the project originally never had the chance for monetary gain at the start. If your client is talking about pro-bono work from the start, you can always counter with a service exchange in order to retain some sort of valued proposition from an exchange. Don’t get trapped into the feeling of guilt when entering into these agreements, deliver what was discussed and expect nothing more than what was initially agreed upon from your client.
2) Revenue vs. Time
If you’ve followed my other creative production articles, you should be able to pick up on a trending pattern. Time management is one of the most important functions for an entrepreneur. The hours we spend on tasks hold a lot of value in terms of making optimum business decisions.
Let us say that project A is going to be paying us 5,000 dollars and project B is 10,000 dollars from start to completion. If we are able to effectively track and organize our time for prior projects, we can better estimate which project would be more optimum. For example, if Project A is a concrete 80 hour project sitting within your comfort zone of expectations while Project B is slightly more ambiguous hitting at 180 hours or more, the decision between the two projects has just been made much easier.
Using time tracking and time estimates to derive the true value of accepting a project over another is crucial to the successful execution of projects. Don’t be thrown around like a rag doll following big $ numbers with high levels of ambiguity for your time management. Play the game right and choose projects based upon optimum time investments.
3) Acquired Skills vs. Skills to Acquire
While we all love to learn new skills and grow with our business, sometimes the wisest decisions lie with knowing when to walk the well lit path vs the dark path. If you are sitting in a position needing to acquire a skill to execute a project, there are so many options for you to move forward. For example, you can spend time learning the new skill or perhaps you can just contract out the portion of the project, both cut into your profit margin to a degree and should be approached with caution.
Let’s say for a second that a client is willing to invest more money into a project for you to personally learn the skills and handle the tasks solo, this is not something that should be walked away from so easily. Rarely do these situations present themselves with a client so willing to invest into a contractor but it is possible. At the end of the day most of us don’t have the time or money to learn new skills on a project-by-project basis. Hiring a subcontractor is a great way to streamline this process and hit your timing goals but be careful not to sacrifice too much of your income on subcontracting out tasks, this is a steep hill to walk down if not done correctly.
I usually tell people to approach these conflicts with this logic. Are you able to effectively subcontract out the task or do you need to spend additional time learning a new skill? If you can efficiently learn the skill yourself without spending too much time while learning non-worthwhile skills that will not carry forward into other projects, go with the learned approach. If you can effectively subcontract out a portion of the project without heavily sacrificing your own profit margin, go with the subcontractor. If you can’t achieve either conclusion, go with the project you know how to complete from front to back instead.
4) Template vs. original work
While there are too many factors to describe here when choosing to implement a template piece vs. original production, there are some very clear points to consider that could help you decide between either option.
One decisive component is the overall time cost of performing an original piece instead of using templates. If your client is specifically requesting something fresh and new, you could be at the forefront of having a deeper and more impressive portfolio. Personally I am of the belief that this work should require a higher fee for your services in comparison to the template format.
Another key determinant here is your client’s expectations over the work being delivered. If you have a client that knows exactly what to expect because you can deliver the expectation using an example based upon a template in your possession, you can potentially work this project in an efficient manner while driving a large profit for your business. If your client is indecisive on their needs, you may want to avoid taking high levels of risk early on with an original content development. You should be setting a known expectation as early as possible in order to avoid sinking too much time into a project with a conflicted client.
Ultimately you are going to need to feel your client’s needs out and will want to balance their desires with your time expectations. While original work is always fun and challenging, don’t find yourself 200 hours into an original concept when the client would have been happy with the 50-hour template approach.
5) Overlapping Deadlines (Don’t burn the candle at both ends)
As hungry entrepreneur’s we all derive a need to seek challenge, obtain victory, and seize the day. Most of the time this go go go attitude towards life is why you find yourself in the successful place that you are in today and will continue to be in tomorrow. There are some exceptions to this though and it is important to understand these exceptions. Most military strategists and historians believe that the caliber of a true master general is determined not in his ability to know when to attack but rather when not to attack.
A first key concept in avoiding unnecessary overlap is by acknowledging your limitations as a human individual. After spending years working in corporate accounting I noticed that the constant internal struggle for my peers to work 12-14 hour days would eventually always catch up with them. I personally noticed an extreme deterioration in the quality of work from my peers when the job hours increased and the break hours disappeared. Leaving work at 8pm to be home by 9pm, an hour of television and up by 6am the next day is not granting your mental, physical, and spiritual self with the necessary recuperation demanded to perform at your best day in and day out. You need to understand that working 8-10 hours and getting an “adequate” break during your 24-hour cycle is crucial to success. There are some great books and resources out there for confirming this logic and in my personal opinion no one benefits from your half-ass Thursday, Friday, Saturday work. A true key player on a team shows up 100% every day.
Now that you understand your biological limitations, the next step is to ensure that you are giving yourself realistic expectations with client projects, not over-booking due dates between multiple clients and not transferring work stresses to your home life. Let’s touch these three topics separately.
Set realistic expectations with client projects in order to give yourself the needed time to accomplish a task to your preferred level of quality. If you struggle with this issue because of procrastination, take better notes on your calendar, leave yourself reminders on your phone and better organize your email to utilize its functionality as a to do list. Perhaps your struggles come in the realm of not knowing how to say “NO” to a client when requests come in. While I never suggest refusing the potential to earn more money for the family, I would always recommend that completing one project at 100% expectation is better than finishing two projects at 60%. Have pride in your work every day and take this logic with you during your planning meetings with clients. There are so many great ways to ensure that you are setting realistic expectations and always remember that a client prefers work done “well” not just “fast”.
Stop over-booking due dates between multiple clients. This is a particularly challenging concept for those of us in professions with quick turn-around deadlines after a request has been initiated. Let’s say you have two clients asking you to work on two separate projects in scope, outlay, and production style. Your biggest disadvantage in not providing yourself with the necessary break time between these two projects is that you can not switch the mind from one task to the other as easily. I see this all the time with some of my peers in the creative production fields. Obtaining the ability to sit and work on a single project for 3+ hours at a time is one of the most effective production methods one can implement. It is very hard for an individual to throw 100% of their mental energy at one project only to switch gears 30 minutes later to tackle something different. By focusing energy on better scheduling techniques for your project deadlines, you can allocate out blocks of time for working on specific projects without distraction. This will save brainpower, increase quality of work, and ensure that you maintain a manageable workload.
Finally, in order to ensure that you are not burning the candle at both ends and bringing your most effective self to the production table every day, you need to avoid at all costs bringing work stresses home with you. This is a crucial component of your production health because it is equally as easy to bring work problems home, as it is to bring home problems to your work life. This means cutting at the root of the problem and ensuring that you aren’t allowing yourself the privilege to unload your stresses on loved ones during periods of R&R. These stresses accumulate at the homestead and eventually are released in the work place when stress becomes unmanageable. The trap people fall down here is the fact that our loved ones generally are more forgiving to share the brunt of our stresses and problems than other members of society. If you are taking full advantage of this fact, you are most likely spinning down a rabbit hole and one-day home stresses (most likely caused by your destructive work stress transfer habit) will sneak into a work related interchange. Trust me when I say that there are no individuals present within your work life with the patience to listen to your home stresses at the magnitude that your loved ones endure.
Ensuring we are standing in a place of confidence in how we pursue our work habits is crucial to the overall effectiveness of our production potential. Overbooking projects, setting effective client expectations and ensuring we leave work with a smile on our face are a few of the many ways in which you as a production professional can achieve this desired level of confidence.
6) Future project potential and referrals
This generally tends to make a lot of sense to entrepreneurs currently “in the game”. The potential for you to acquire an additional project or client from an existing source is one of the best ways for you to move your business along a desired path. This referral potential may display itself in a few different colors and it is important to understand the validity of the various showings. It needs to be stated that this concept is extremely ambiguous and it is impossible to have a black and white guide to understanding the potential for one party to refer you to another party due to the material human element. While this is the case, there are some signs you should be on the lookout for in order to predict whether or not a contact has this potential for future referrals.
A complex question requires a complex solution. While there are few 1-step answers, there are a large amount of multi-step signs for remediation. The one sign that always makes me raise an eyebrow when engaging with a potential client is the level of respect that they allow me to have in our initial communication. This concept of allowing respect for another professional is not well acknowledged in the business world today. So many people talk about “earning respect” but very few people task about “allowing respect to be earned”. There is very little room for movement if the potential for respect is not established firmly. Also I will tell you with 99% certainty that a professional will never divulge their hard earned connections without having accumulated trust and respect within you. Upon initial conversations with a new business contact, try to examine how a person is listening to your answers or questions. Is the person engaged in your questions or are they annoyed that they have had to answer this question 50 times today? Is the person acknowledging your responses to their questions with written notes or are they simply nodding and staring into the abyss? This concept of allowing respect to enter the framework during initial conversations is a crucial sign in how your long-term relationship will pan out.
There are those situations when during an initial meeting we all feel extremely over-sold on the offerings of an initiated client or peer. I personally am a firm believer that the “over-selling” presentation heavily diminishes the development of respect within the relationship. Therefore, if you find yourself speaking with a potential new client and they are unhesitatingly referencing their “extremely’” successful position, you need to take a major step back from the situation. The potential that this new client or peer is allowing you the ability to accumulate respect for them and vise versa is already initially low. If the chance for mutual respect is low, the chance that an additional reference could be gained through this engagement is also be extremely low. Humans are by their nature possessive beings. We are possessive of things and people, relentlessly. A stranger promising to much to early on in a relationship is not the type of engagement you should be looking to invest time into with the expectation for a future referral.
A new relationship can offer many great roads and also can lead to many dead ends. Unfortunately for us, dead ends are more common than open roads and this concept actually gets worse as you find success. Your ability to root out the dead end contacts will help tremendously in your ability to acquire success and move forward with continued success. One major component of predicting people’s habits and ultimately their potential to garnish resources for you is the ability for you to look upon someone else with a “level eye”. To have a level eye towards another is to understand that this individual you are engaging with has more similarities to you than differences. Every individual person on this planet has more similarities than differences with their fellow man and woman. When you can innately empathize your peers need for survival, you will understand better the potential for you to gain from a relationship with that specific person. There is no possible way to explain this feeling and this theory in words; it requires a visceral sense only gained through subjective understanding. I will say this though; never take for granted the minor habits of your peers and relationships. These small signs of choice speak levels for the type of person they will ultimately play in your life.
While this concept remains extremely ambiguous and no one situation will follow the same path as another, you need to be able to discern the potential for future work especially if you are currently in the process of deciding between 1, 2 or 3 client projects. If you can “more” knowingly choose to accept a client with the potential for referral work, you can really make a solid growth pattern for your business. Referrals lead to better and more consistent clients. More consistent clients will help you to hit benchmarks within your business and even potentially will allow you the ability to afford that part-time assistant you’ve always needed.
7) Portfolio enhancement (When to stop)
A portfolio is the greatest instrument within the arsenal of the creative or technically skilled. Whether you are designer, developer, craftsman, writer or freelance creative your portfolio speaks volumes about the quality of work you do and why your methods separate you from the rest of the pack. What is the best way to approach portfolio growth and when is the best time to move into a position of portfolio utilization?
The goal here is to break this process down into two simple formulas, growth and utilization. From my experience working with the creatives’ of our society there is always the typical path people walk in order to grow a portfolio. If you focus on building a portfolio from scratch without engaging in a third party to deliver a service, then technically you are not building a portfolio of your services. A 100% self-developed portfolio doesn’t demonstrate your ability to derive a product from another person’s vision. Without this key component a self-developed portfolio is nothing more than a collection of demonstrated skills and visions. This provides very little value in terms of your ability to fully demonstrate to a client why you are a strong candidate for a team. The goal of a portfolio is for you to demonstrate the ability to take your skill set and apply it to someone else’s concept in order to create a marketable product. A 100% self-developed portfolio is only half the equation.
In order to obtain the ideal portfolio, you need to obtain an early stage client in order to test your skill-set and capable vision against their needs. The ability to embrace a client idea and turn it into a quality deliverable directly demonstrates 100x more value in your portfolio than just simply your skills and visions. It typically all begins with taking on less than ideal work from individuals who seemingly are unable to pay market rate for the services you are granting. In fact, this step is so universally accepted within the community that it is an extreme barrier to entry for so many talented individuals. Understand that you are still providing a service for the work that you are performing even if it is your first professional client engagement. While it is totally acceptable to deliver work at a discount in order to grow a portfolio, it is NEVER acceptable to take on FREE jobs in order to build out a portfolio, especially if the services you are providing require a technical skill set. If an early stage client is proposing that you give free labor due to your inexperience than you need to walk away immediately and find a client elsewhere. There is a good chance that your client will counter offer with minimum wage and at the end of the day you literally have nothing to lose in turning down free labor. Focus on building a portfolio using client work at all costs and strive to be compensated for this work. You will find a greater sense of accomplishment if you are able to pay an electric bill while also building your portfolio of work.
- NEVER allow yourself to be convinced that a client is doing YOU a favor for giving you access to their project and agenda.
- NEVER convince yourself that payment in “portfolio growth” is an acceptable level of compensation for services you are rendering to a client.
- ALWAYS understand that 1 hour of your time is worth a certain amount of value to a client.
- ALWAYS reason that your early stage clients can afford to compensate you at a discount instead of FREE.
- LEARN to realize that your early stage client should be paying your competition at a rate above FREE.
- LEARN that by setting a high standard for client acceptance early on and you will be building a road worth walking as you and your business grow.
Let us say that you have made it past the early stages of portfolio development and you’ve been able to build a reputable portfolio from direct client engagement. When is the proper time to put down a focus on “portfolio development” and start to work towards well paying client work? The best course of action here is to realize that you should have been doing this since the beginning. Whether or not you realize this or not, your skillset is being pursued for a reason and you need to obtain compensation for the time you are committing. As you gain experience you can begin to charge a slightly higher rate and continue to charge a higher rate as time goes on but you should never sell yourself short to the point of Pro-Bono labor.
In conclusion I hope that you better understand that you are worth more than what your portfolio can simply display. Portfolios don’t have mouths or else they would be saying that your work does not fully demonstrate your ability to collaborate with clients. While it is important to demonstrate skills and vision capability, it is more important to demonstrate your ability to project a client concept into a deliverable. Always understand that your portfolio only exists to aid you in obtaining actual paid client work and should never be taken hostage by a frugal client.
8) Effective Client Relationship (Are they my friends?)
Here is a topic that I personally can vouch for in terms of inflicting seemingly unnecessary headache, disappointment and sacrificed time. I believe that we can all express some sort of experience in entering a positive relationship with another individual and leaving the relationship on a worse footing. These slip-ups are common and should be expected within our personal and professional lives. The difference between personal and professional is that while a crumbling personal relationship can impact our hearts a distraught business relationship can destroy our ability to hit goals, achieve necessary revenue and ultimately harass our professional passions.
Let us first talk about what it means to be in an effective client relationship. Surprisingly the term “effective relationship” is a lot rarer for seasoned professionals than one would expect. Effective in a simple context really is defined as transparent, rewarding, achievable and impersonal. Let us break down these four key words for you to better evaluate your current client relationships.
Transparent – You and your client need to be on the same page in regards to why you are even associated in the first place. There are so many projects that fail just because two parties are completely on the wrong page from day one. By ensuring that you are asking the proper questions consistently is one way in which you can prevent yourself from ultimate client disappointment. More importantly by not relaying information that is advantages for you to restrict is a sure fine way to destroy any hope at transparency with a client. If the partnership crumbles because of “willingly undisclosed information”, be certain that the guilty party is not you. It is a hundred million times better for you to learn that a relationship is failing because of the other party than to be the party destroying the relationship. Acting in a conniving fashion will only mask the other party’s equivalent shortfall and there will be a far greater chance that an ineffective client relationship will go on months or years without ever allowing yourself the ability to see through the ill intent.
Rewarding – Our most obvious point is also the most likely to turn a high potential relationship into a train wreck in the shortest amount of time. Personally in my experience I find that this area generally becomes unfavorable during the initial proposal communications. A lot of times we find ourselves over-selling our ability in certain very small aspects. For example, the time expectations that will lead directly to end of project billing. Let us say that we are trying to obtain a client contract and know for a fact that the lead is “shopping around”. Therefore, when we send our lead the initial proposal the first couple of hours we tend to cut in order to decrease the overall cost of the project are the broad category tasks such as “research” and “communication”. It most likely will turn out by the end of the project for us to bill an additional 10+ hours in order for us to recuperate the time we spent “researching” and “communicating”. A great practice in proposal prep is to stay as honest as possible with time expectations. A golden rule is that it is better to over-estimate time and under-estimate cost per hour rather than under-estimate time and charge per hour what we are accustomed to. Never discredit the small tasks that support the large tasks and always make timing of payments a concrete expectation at the onset of a project.
Achievable – There is a common theory that stress makes us more effective, nervousness allows us to focus on a better game plan and tight deadlines give us the adrenaline rush needed to complete a task. While I would never suggest to anyone that a great approach to achieving a successful conclusion is to purposefully go out of our way to add stress, I will always suggest that stress is not something we should fear. Ensure that your tasks are on efficient timelines, which take into consideration all of the other deadlines scattered around your calendar. You do keep a calendar, correct?? If there is one area of work in which you need to be realistic, it is quality of product. You want to constantly push yourself to do better work today than you did yesterday. Never be afraid of challenge but at the same time realize that your client most likely is paying you for the skills you have today rather than the skills you will obtain tomorrow. If you can competently be realistic in the area of challenge, quality and timing there should be very few client relationships that will end in failure.
Impersonal – Very few people want to admit that relationships within the business world are far more effective when two parties agree to mutual impersonal respect. What does this mean and exactly how impersonal do we need to be in order to avoid the complications that come from mixing personal emotions into business transaction dependency? The truth of the matter is that there is a moderate level of personal investment into a business relationship and that no effective business transaction can be purely 100% impersonal. There is a very grey line in terms of when you cross the point of no return on personal investment into a relationship for which you could potentially be setting yourself up to get hurt in ways outside of simple monetary compensation.
A great guide for me is to invest my personal emotion into the first three categories within this article. For example, invest emotion into driving a transparent, achievable, and rewarding business relationship. By investing time and energy from deep within your heart as a working human, you will be setting yourself up for a definitive example of success within the first three points above. Now here is the difficult part, on the “impersonal” side of the equation bring your mind and not your heart.
Some may say, how can I invest emotion into a rewarding business relationship and yet not feel personally hurt when a client misses a pay deadline? The answer to this is that no personal investment in the above 3 categories can function independently. By covering your communication with “genuine” (personal) transparent communication, you should be able to confer a client’s true intent and nature. By setting achievable goals “in the interest” of your client (personal) you will ensure that you are setting the project up for success from square one. By billing “fair” (personal) rates you can ensure that you are never the guilty party for destroying a business relationship. Lastly by carrying through with the relationship on a “task focused level” (impersonal) you will ensure that the project is executed effectively.
If you can invest personal stake into the three categories above and then apply impersonal emotion towards the remaining aspects of building human relationships, you will be setting yourself up to never get hurt in a personal manner. Your personal investment should strictly be focused on providing genuine and strong human engagement within our three contexts above while ensuring that you bring only cerebral and impersonal investments into the remaining aspects of a business relationship. For example, you don’t need to invest emotion into a client’s personal life in order to derive a more effective level of work process. Also you do not need to derive a personal investment upon a client’s political standing in order to ensure that their creative vision for a functioning website comes to fruition. Stay on track with your personal investments and ensure that you aren’t delivering or receiving heavy emotional investment outside of the success of the business transaction’s success.
9) Personal schedule and expectations
There are without a doubt two types of professionals in this world, those with it all on the line and then those with nothing to lose. Taking a heavy entrepreneurial risk when working in any profession is a significant burden that can lead to the loss of more than just a paycheck. But at the same time we obtain the ability to designate our time in ways we would never have had the ability to accomplish if we were reporting directly under a corporate figure. An entrepreneur needs to accomplish sales tasks, marketing tasks, management tasks, financial tasks and administrative tasks on top of the skilled professional focus, which drives your entrepreneurial revenue. So one may ask, how do I possibly schedule enough time in a week to complete all of my revenue generating tasks while simultaneously performing the above additional tasks necessary for my business to succeed? The answer is Monthly Prioritization, Outsourced Resources and Diligent Execution of Undesirable Tasks.
Monthly prioritization is an extremely important aspect of running a business, so much so that a successful entrepreneur needs to get it down to a science. A great way to start this is by making a list of tasks that need to be accomplished once per month for the operation of an effective organization. Additionally, include in this list two items, the optimum amount of time you believe is necessary in order to accomplish the specific task to the best of your ability and also the least amount of time you can dedicate to said task in order to accomplish to the bare minimum.
With your list and time estimates on paper, your next step is pick specific times and days to accomplish these tasks in a given month. For example, in my practice, I use 1 hour on Monday mornings to send off a few emails to potential leads for new business. It’s a fun way to start the week and gives prospective leads plenty of time during the week to respond. Another great example is that on the middle and last day of every month I sit down for two hours and knock out all of my invoicing, budgeting and bill payments in two designated sessions. This way I am not taking up useful client production time for paying one bill here and one bill there.
By knocking out all of these administrative tasks in one or two sittings within a month or week, I am able to clear my mind for the revenue generating work that needs to get done. Also realize that not every month is the same. Some months require bare minimum amounts of time due to stressful deadlines while other months may have a greater luxury of time to give. By the end of the month you should have spent the necessary time on administrative tasks and will leave yourself optimum time for client work.
Outsourcing Resources for your entrepreneurial endeavor can help you accomplish some of the menial and unwanted tasks that take up so much of your time during a weekly and monthly basis. There are so many different ways to outsource tasks in todays age. We have applications that make many menial tasks appear almost autonomous, there are contractors everywhere to lend their already established set of skills for your endeavors and there are even applications to help you find remote or face to face the contractors with the skills to complete a desired task.
While knowing where to find an outsourced resource today is as simple as typing a line into a search engine, the challenge derives itself in your ability to afford the many different layers of outsourced help.
A great example is project management outsourced assistance. On one end of the spectrum you can google a professional project management contractor to work part-time in order to stay on top of a tight development deadline while also keeping tabs on the amount of time team members are designating to specific tasks. Alternatively, there are numerous well produced time tracking and project management software applications available with low cost or free tier platforms. While the more expensive side of the above example can assist an entrepreneur in deriving a ton of awesome project management capabilities into a larger scale project, many solo entrepreneurs simply need some effective and consistent project management tools to help their project level task management.
The moral of the story here is to take time and draw out the exact functions that you NEED vs the conveniences that you WANT. Also understand your level of time investment into a pursuit to fully understand the level of effectiveness that an outsourced resource can grant. For instance, if you are up to your neck in complex UX/UI development and are searching for a part-time assistant to help you in some of the more menial and time consuming tasks, ensure that you are taking into consideration the time investment for you to bring on another helping hand. Ask yourself questions such as “Does this new resource have a similar vision to my own?”, “Are there technical skill sets that I am going to need to bring this person up to speed on?” and my all time favorite “Will this person be able to juggle their college curriculum and be available to assist in my business goals simultaneously?”. Just a word of advice on the last one, the answer is usually NO, hire people with priorities in your range of efforts.
While we all desire a helping hand, ensure that you as the risk taking entrepreneur are taking the necessary steps to achieve maximum optimization of outsourced resources. Make your contractors report detailed time reports weekly. If a free tier application and an hour of your time can do the same job as a 5 hour per week contractor at $40 per hour, then make the switch. If a $30 per month application isn’t being fully utilized, cancel the subscription and find an alternative. When it comes to outsourced resources, remember time is always money, for them and for you.
Diligent Execution of Undesirable Tasks is not going to come across as a lecture from your parents and that is because you are a mature adult with the skillset to achieve your goals without nagging background noise. Undesirable but necessary tasks are the worst enemy of the productive entrepreneur. Have you ever had a two-day period in which you were productively on a roll until you got that email from X client about Y task that should have been done Z months ago? I am sure this has happened and don’t beat yourself up when this steers you off the production train because it happens to us all. The key to undesirable tasks is establishing a constant mindset of diligent execution.
It is all about the mindset. Tell yourself every week “It is all about the mindset” and have your undesirable tasks on a notepad or in your calendar with the bullseye focused upon them at the start of a busy week. Know your enemy and passionately await the death blow that you will eventually deliver. Being in the mental state of enthusiastic execution is a great way to power through undesirable tasks. Be the general in charge of your own schedule and do not let other people or other occurrences change the way your week plays out. Have a competitive edge when it comes to the undesirable necessities of your work week.
Positive thinking goes a long way when it comes to these dreadful moments of production distraction. Remember that the grass is always greener on the other side of a painful hour of invoicing or the painful 20 minutes of time tracking. Not only convince yourself but excite yourself to move past these steps by focusing on the cool stuff to come. If you can mentally arrive at a place to allow for constant diligent execution of undesirable tasks, however that may be, you can save yourself hours of time each month.
10) Creative Freedom and Personal Challenge
Now first it is important to discuss the nature of your desire for creative freedom within your projects. I personally have met individuals that have turned down 5, 6, and 7 figure ventures even though they knew that they would be a knock out of the park homerun in terms of a deliverable product. What in the world would make someone not want to earn a profit on a lights-out project?! The answer is creative freedom and personal challenge, the driving force in the most successful entrepreneurs across the planet.
This is a tricky conversation and you would think after all of the above dialogue we would end on a simple topic, but today isn’t that day. This conversation derives a basis in some of the most complex of human emotions; pride, envy, vision, belonging, self-awareness, mental health, lifelong achievement, and the list goes on. I remember working in the corporate field where personal challenge was no more than “how many hours can you work next week” and creative freedom was “don’t fix what isn’t broken”. Are these ideas wrong? Absolutely not and the reason is because in those places in time on this plane of existence those ideas work well.
The conflict appears when you have an individual with the desire to accomplish something unobtainable through pure profit and loss focuses. The reasons are numerous but the outcomes are always the same, there are those who do for passion and those who don’t do. Are you driven by creative enhancement within your field? For example, are you a tech writer with a niche for Drupal? Have you ever considered taking a project out of your comfort zone? Has this project given you the ability to learn and grow so that you can continue down the road for sharpening those skills or learning new project offerings? While there is no single solution formula for this category, there are a few major key components that we can separate for our internal analysis.
- Increase in skill growth
- Increase in future project offerings
- Increase in portfolio exposure
- Practicing one’s basic skills
- Exercising an original vision
- Experimenting with something risky
- Driving away from an industry norm
- Developing your own personal production habits
- Achieving a long time agenda item
- Proving a theoretical revelation
- Internal excitement
- Harnessing a combination of skills uncommon to the average practitioner
- Proving to yourself and your peers
- Striving for something worth being prideful of
- Client Shock Value
- Personal Achievement
This list has no end and nor does it have a true beginning. We make many of these factors key components of our lives. Different people have different combinations of motivation. What motivates you should ALWAYS be at the forefront of where you stand now in business, at home and inside ourselves.