Beginning a freelance business is an exciting time, and leaving your full-time job to become a permanent freelancer is a huge step out of the comfort zone.
So when things start to go downhill, it can be hard to realise that not everything is hunky dory. Here are some ways that your freelance business might be showing signs of failing – and how you can bring it back to life.
Take a step back
A good start to figuring out where things are going wrong is to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
You can become so involved in your own freelance business that it can be easy to miss what’s been staring at you the whole time. Rather than immediately scanning every centimetre of the business, have a look at it as a whole, and see where you’re struggling to function.
Once you’ve done that, these are the areas you should look in to more closely and evaluate.
Rethink your rates
If the problem seems to be bringing on potential clients, you might want to take another look over the amount you’re charging, and the way you measure your work.
Both undervaluing and overvaluing your services can be an issue, but if it’s your first time freelancing it can be even more difficult to know how to price yourself.
If you’re concerned you’re charging too little, speak to your clients and explain that you need to charge more. You’ll find that by letting them know of your price increase in advance many won’t have a problem in paying you a bit extra – and the ones who do won’t be worth keeping!
If you think you’re charging too much and are worried you’re driving customers away, first take a look at your branding. If your website doesn’t look up to scratch but you’re charging a higher price than your competition, you need to invest a little in how you present yourself, to get in the running.
Put current clients first
Your priority right now shouldn’t be bringing on new clients, as tempting it can be to keep looking for them.
Instead your focus should be on putting the needs of your current clients first, and ensuring you’re meeting them. Do this by communicating with them, organising yourself around deadlines and chasing up prospects of future work.
It’s possible that the problem is that you already have too many clients. If you’re already managing too many clients you should reconsider your workload and focus on time management. An effective way to do this is to charge per hour rather than per project – there’s only so many hours in a day after all!
Meet the deadlines
Alternatively, your problem might be that you’re losing clients more quickly than you can take them on. Struggling to hold down a decent long-term client can be a disaster for freelancers – and may mean the difference between paying bills and huddling round a fire when the heating has gone.
Make sure you complete work in a timely manner and that your current clients are happy. You could even ask them to fill in a survey about your services, which you can then use to work on specific areas of the business.
If you’re struggling to meet deadlines it may be because you’ve taken on too much work and are spreading yourself too thin. If this is the case, consider dropping a couple of clients or explaining your situation to them – they will either leave or be willing to rethink their deadline date (it’s always worth a try!).
Evaluate your expenses
One of the biggest reasons freelance businesses fold is because of their inability to budget. Keeping track of expenses is a vital part of business, so don’t forget to file accounts and keep everything in check with HMRC and Companies House (if you operate as a limited company).
Alternatively, the problem may not be your account keeping, but that your clients are failing to pay you within the timeframe you ask. You should address this directly and make sure you’re sending out invoices which are written professionally and include all the appropriate information.
If you’re struggling to manage on your own you can always hire an accountant, or try a software like Pandle, which can help you manage accounts from anywhere, and have all the information in one place rather than scattered in various folders around your house.
Know when it’s time to let go
Sometimes things are just too far gone to be able to bring back, and that’s okay. As Henry Ford said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”.
So if it turns out that things just won’t work with the business because of an irreparable issue, don’t get too downhearted – you can try again and you’ll know not to make the same mistakes.
Have you successfully revived a failing freelance business? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below!