Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

To hire or not to hire – that is the freelancer’s biggest question…

Do you need a right-hand man…..or woman…or even a monkey with a typewriter?  Anyone who can share the burden of your flourishing freelance career?

When I told my mother that I was launching a second business she pulled her ‘face’.  She does it so well – it’s like a curl of a lip at the same time as a frown.  Honestly, circuses would snap her up tomorrow.

Her brand of support is to worry me.  She’ll say things like, “But what if no one wants that service?” or, “How will you find your customers?” – as if these thoughts never enter my head.  Does she truly think I’ll sit there expectantly each morning wondering why no one comes near the office, when I’ve done nothing to tell them who – or where – I am?  Sheesh!

When devising the business model for my latest company, I split the services I offer into three separate ‘arms’.  My thought was that by offering more services, I would have more chance of staying buoyant as a sole trader, perhaps even progressing to employing people.

Then out came the pearler…..

 “What if all three areas take off at once and you’re too busy?  What if you can’t cope because you’ve got treble your workload?”

I smiled.  “Mum, I’ll worry about that if, and when, it happens.  I’m sure it will take time to get to that point.”  Her generation, I don’t know, all “we’re doomed”……

Fast forward just seven or eight weeks.  Guess what?  All three arms of my business, and also the workload of my first company, are spiralling.  Out of control?  Perhaps not yet, but it has taken me by surprise.  And as a firm offering virtual services for other people’s burgeoning workloads, it’s also quite ironic.

So what do you do if you are struggling to keep up with demand?  As an entrepreneur or freelancer you’ve probably enjoyed your own company until now.  But do you just deal with your workload until it dies down, or do you consider taking on someone else, either virtually or permanently?

Progression in a recession

Say you go for Option 1; you work into the night for a few hectic weeks and close off any thoughts of gaining more work – after all, you can’t even process the work you’ve got, right?  Then after the rush of a heavy workload, you think everything is back to normal.  Your regular customers are satisfied and you know they’ll come back when they need to.

Then you find yourself playing catch up.  You’ve now got to spend time chasing work to fill a void.  There are so many unofficial business tips out there for any freelancer wanting to start up; keep your cash flowing and get your invoices sent out as often as you can, negotiate payment terms with your suppliers in your favour, only spend if absolutely necessary – but the main one is: always be on the lookout for your next job.

This may sound crazy when you’re run off your feet.  With careful planning and a professional approach it is quite easy to line a job up for when your current one finishes; thus ensuring a constant stream of work.

Option 2 was the possibility of taking on some help – which is great, if they truly can share your burden.  That way, not only can you chase work for yourself, you can also take more on, knowing that your man, woman or monkey can do a decent share of it as well.

Look what’s happened – your business has grown!  You’ve practically doubled your workload; yes, you’ve incurred a wages bill, but if you’ve done it right, you’ve got double the profit.

Once you’ve gone through this process once, you can do it again and again.  Before you know it, you’ve got twenty monkeys tapping away at typewriters, smoking cigars (sorry, that was actually just a dream I had…), but you get the idea. 

Expansion need not be scary.

When – indeed, if – you planned to become an entrepreneur with a healthy freelance career, you probably did it for a reason.  To fit around your family, to make a living from something you enjoy, to be your own boss perhaps.  The overriding reason must be, to be successful – after all, no one goes into business hoping they’ll fail.

Success can mean different things to different people; to be able to make a wage and contribute to household earnings, to hold down an enjoyable job around family commitments – whatever.  Just maybe – careful planning, a professional approach and an inner drive could give you greater success than you could ever have dreamed of.

And maybe you too could have a room full of typing, smoking monkeys…..

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Okay, you really want to solve your business growth problems? No problem … come and build yourself a ready made pool of  freelance talent that you can dip into (and out of) when needed.

Next event 14th October, Livepool/ Wirral followed by Manchester 9th November
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Written by Editor on October 8, 2010 and filed in Entrepreneurs, Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Opinion , , ,


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