Working for yourself – but us, because we work for ourselves!
Working for yourself can be one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do, however it can be hugely rewarding in many ways; freedom to manage your time, not having to report to anyone (except yourself!), being in control of your business finances, and many more.
But the financial side of things can sometimes prove challenging at the very least, in particular the often-precarious cash-flow predicament.
We call it “feast or famine”, where you may be swimming in cash one week when a big contract lands, and down to your last bean another month when work slows down a little. It happens.
The Stress of Cash Flow
Like all businesses, big or small, we entrepreneurs need to pay out household bills and watch when the pennies come in and go out.
When you are working for yourself it can feel like a financial roller coaster with your bank balance bouncing up and down like a yoyo!
Many new entrepreneurs get caught out by this and spend sleepless nights worrying about where the next paying job is coming from, only to be raised to a state of elation weeks later when work suddenly floods in. Again, they can’t sleep, this time due to the sheer excitement of the obvious success of their business!
Spending so much time dealing with customers’ needs and doing the jobs in hand can overtake a business so much that necessary things like admin, marketing and sorting out your cash flow often get put on the back burner.
This is a very easy trap to fall into but is often the downfall of many a new start-up business.
6 Tips to Help You Through the Leaner Times Working for Yourself
So, here are a few tips to help you and your business finances stay on track when you are working for yourself.
- Make time for marketing your business. It’s all too easy to put off those little marketing jobs in favour of client work. But it is vitally important to ensure that you keep on top of your social media and general marketing. Try and plan a little time each day to do your posts or look at your ads, that way it will not seem so onerous and will give you a good, regular stream of up-to-date marketing material.
- Save for the famine whilst you are feasting! This is one many of us find so hard to do! Just like saving for a rainy day, it’s a great discipline to get into, saving money while it’s plentiful to keep you going in the leaner times.
- Plan your time and use others to help with the lesser tasks. Time management is key to a successful business, making the most of your most valuable asset. It really is worth trying to get into the habit of spending 5 minutes each morning, or evening, mapping out your time for the day ahead. Just getting your head around what needs to be done, and the priority in which they need doing will help you maximise your productivity and help you see the wood for the trees when it comes to your diary. When working for youreslf, also, consider using the much talked about “gig economy” to help you with some of tasks that you yourself are not necessarily required to do. Things like admin tasks, social media posts, daily accounts, all of these may be able to be outsourced which frees up your own valuable time to concentrate on finding new clients and keeping them happy! There are some great on-line resources to help you find almost any trade or skill, such as Fiverr or Upwork.
- Get as much cash as you can “up-front”. This is a tricky one. But and it is a big but, if you can manage to get your customers to part with some of their hard-earned cash in advance of your work, that’s a great way to ease the cash-flow stream.
- Build-in some recurring income. As a web design business, most of our income is generated by “project” work. This is when we build a new website for a client and once the site is completed, we are paid our final installment and wave our (hopefully!) very satisfied client goodbye … for now. But we always offer them a “maintenance & management” service to keep us on-board. For a modest monthly fee we take care of their website and make sure it is kept up-to-date, from a technical perspective, and secure. These small monthly payments all add up and provide a nice monthly residual income.
- Review your pricing! Another really tricky one, and worthy of a blog in its’ own right! Many of us can be a bit shy when it comes to valuing our time and services, we doubt our worth sometimes and maybe undercharging our clients. So it is well worth regularly visiting your pricing, check the “going rate” for what you offer, and hone in on the right customer profile for your business. We did just that last year, mid lock-down actually. We decided to market our company to slightly larger businesses, those that are more established and with potentially larger marketing budgets. In turn, we also raised our prices accordingly as we knew we had been under-valuing our expertise and reputation for too long. It was a bold move but, I am glad to say, a profitable one!
If you are working for yourself and struggling with any digital or website issues, please do give us a call and see if we can help … 0203 730 1785 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org