Class of 2011: Progress report with Sarah Cheal of Acquire

Our Class of 2011 series began in January with the aim of celebrating new freelance and start-up talent from our growing community.

Sarah Cheal of Acquire has been a major part of our spring events, leading a freelance workshop as taking a full part in our networking sessions. Sarah will be speaking again at our Cheshire fair on Thursday, and recently filled in our progress report Q&A.

Q) Sarah – who has the first quarter of 2011 treated you?

We have had a busy few months – we are in a critical phase of growth at the moment and learning every day as we evolve our business model to fit client demand. We have a lot in the pipeline, its just taking a while to convert some of it!

Q) Have your business aims for 2011 changed or stayed the same so far this year?

Our aims have stayed the same – to build a core client base that we can build very strong relationships with, and surround this with other revenue streams.  One project we are currently developing is a series of workshops to equip freelancers and very small agencies with the skills they need to carry out their own effective new business activity. We are partnering with a number of specialists across a range of skills – emotionally connecting over the phone, how to understand the differences between people and therefore know how to build effective relationships. We are also developing some “off the shelf” solutions that are fixed cost and easily implemented as projects.

Q) Your message at our Liverpool Fair certainly struck a chord with many attendees –

“Make your hardest task the first thing you do in the working day”

How important do you think it is for freelancers and self-employed workers to plan each day?

How many times have you thought, “if only there were more hours in the day”. You can give yourself that extra time if you work more effectively.   Depending on what personality type you are, you will either be very good at detail and organsiation, or like me (and most of the creative sector), a creative ideas-led person and not so good at organisation.

Its important to recognise where your strengths lie and then how to make the most of them, and if you can, surround yourself with people who have complimentary skills to you (my business partner is super efficient). Realise that time management is so crucial to business success so if you are anything like me, make it fun to be organised! Understanding what motivates you is the key to overcoming your weaknesses.

Q) Any new projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?

We have just secured a fundraising project which is so exciting… I can’t tell you much more about it at this stage, but it feels good to make a living out of helping people. I have been volunteering for a while, so its great to have a charity as a client.

Q) Are there any freelance / small business resources do you use regularly that you can recommend to our community?

Harvest is a great time management tool – we are currently trialling it.  Highrise is useful for customer and prospect databases.

Northern Soho is great for networking and support from other people within the creative industry (agencies and freelancers), join for free, all we ask is a donation of your time to help us to achieve our collective goal of raising awareness of the creative talent that exists in the north, and bringing in new clients for all members.

Our next informal networking meetup is 31st March (Ed – ideal for anyone attending EFFCheshire in the morning too!)  – if you come along you will also find out how to support emerging talent and get involved in new project from final year students of the design futures course at Salford University.

Q) If you’ve had a long day in the office, what makes you switch off and relax?

I guess the same as most people, when I do get to chill out I see friends and family, I sit on the sofa and watch TV, go out, take the dog for a walk.  Fresh air helps to clear my head, but the most difficult thing to do as an entrepreneur is switch off.  What helps me is if I have something going round in my head is to write it all down. If I am trying to sleep I will write it down and put the piece of paper outside the bedroom. I find that helps keep it away until the next day.

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Written by Alistair Beech on March 28, 2011 and filed in Featured, Freelancers, News , , , , ,

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