Telling stories

Running Your Business Like a Business

Posted by southwrite on June 26, 2014

computer moneyYou became a freelancer because you wanted the freedom of working for yourself, choosing your clients and setting your own schedule. That’s what being an entrepreneur is about, right?

Yet, many of us don’t act like businesspeople. We love the freedom, but don’t want to do the mundane things that companies do to be competitive. Sure you’re probably good at your core business – writing, design, photography or whatever – but, what about the business of business?

Here I’m talking about the common practices that companies follow to maximize profits and stay in businesses. You can run your businesses better and improve the bottom line – putting more money in our pockets – if we take a look at what companies do and adapt those practices to our own admittedly small time operations.

Be ruthless in cost cutting

Successful companies get to be successful not just by having a great product and sales team, but through the unglamorous job of keeping expenses in line. A good business will cut out unnecessary expenditures and search for better and cheaper ways to get things done.

One freelancer insisted to me that she needed a fax machine and second phone line. When I questioned how many faxes she actually received the number was less than one a month. When you calculated the cost of a fax [maintenance, ink and paper, and a second phone line] it was probably around $30 each or more.

More than likely you can scan your documents and email them. If you think you need a fax use an internet fax service. Although the service only costs $10 a month, over time it’s become increasingly inefficient. Few people send faxes these days and if you really have to send one your local office supply store can do it for you.

You can probably think of any number of cost saving measures that won’t cramp your business or your style. Did you really need the New York Times in the morning when every article [and more] is available on-line? The same goes for the magazines you buy. Nearly all of them are available online or e-versions on your tablet. Many can be obtained free through your local library’s ebook program.

Set a goal to identity common expenses – particularly recurring monthly charges – and decide if you really need the service or the product. If it’s a business expense, decide what it would mean to you if you didn’t have it.

Don’t drive when you can go direct

Do you have clients who insist on seeing you face-to-face? With telephone, e-mail, and Skype video conferencing, you really don’t need to actually drive to their office. The large companies that I’ve worked with never want to see me in person since all the work is begin done remotely.

It’s usually the small – and low margin – clients who want face time. Nudge them toward phone calls and e-mail. If they insist evaluate how much they mean to you fee-wise. I’ve sometimes found that travel expenses turned small jobs into money losers. It might be more profitable to stay at home and forego the job.

Better and faster

One of your greatest money savers can be you. How efficient are you at what you do? Are there graphic design programs that competitors are using, but you’ve only heard about? Research studies find corporation that invest the most in training also tend to have the highest valuations and stock prices. If you aren’t getting training and education, then you may be consigning yourself to the low end of business.

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