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How To Scale Your Freelance Business and Maximize Profit


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My presentation from 360Flex in DC, 9/22/2010. We talked about how to scale up, how to reposition with clients, how to interview and manage freelancers, and lots more.

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How To Scale Your Freelance Business and Maximize Profit

  1. 1. How To Scale Your Freelance Business and Maximize Profit
  2. 2. Who @davidortinau 15 yrs web, interactive, software development Flash, iPhone, .NET, WP7
  3. 3. Gospel Media Network 1996-1999 Audio Streaming Startup Initial Investment approx. $30,000 Sold 1999 for $450,000
  4. 4. BEMAS Software 2001-2007 Healthcare Software Grew from 2 to 16 employees Acquired by Evolution Benefits in 2010
  5. 5. Simply Profound 2007-Present Freelance Interactive Development Annual revenue growth recently doubled 62% Flash 30% Web 8% iPhone
  6. 6. who I work with • Advertising and Creative • Roster of 14 senior Agencies developers, designers, • Publishing copywriters • Education • Always looking for more! • Fashion • Beer
  7. 7. What are we talking about • Why Scale The Freelance Business • Scaling • Growing
  8. 8. why scale a freelance business
  9. 9. we have finite • Hours • Rates • Customers
  10. 10. better projects require more • People • Time • Skills
  11. 11. you don’t want to do • W2 • Benefits • FICA • Insurance
  12. 12. you are your own limit • Capacity • Energy • Concurrent Obligations • Capability • You’re a successful technician that is becoming a manager and an entrepreneur. That can be difficult and frustrating. • Law of the Lid: Leadership ability determines effectiveness.
  13. 13. common misconceptions and fears • If you read it in a book or heard it on a podcast, it’s somehow cheating or less valid • If you ask for help, you’re weak and default any opportunity for real success • You need to know what you’re doing • If you have failed in the past, then you don’t have what it takes
  14. 14. don’t disqualify yourself from growth • Past failures do not disqualify you from future success • We’re all faking it, making this up as we go • Improve your business in iterations. • What can you do today to improve? A week, month, quarter?
  15. 15. healthy businesses grow • Naturally, if you do well you will grow • Remove hindrances to growth • The top 3 buttons to push • Efficient systems • Control costs • Increase profits
  16. 16. a business lens
  17. 17. scaling
  18. 18. subcontracting • Benefits • Multiply the hours you can bill in a given period • Best subcontractors are often current or former business owners themselves • Increase the capabilities you offer • Can make you more efficient at delivering - 2 heads are better than 1
  19. 19. subcontracting • Challenges • You’re now a Manager in addition to a Technician • Interviewing, hiring and firing • Positioning with clients must change • Responsible for things outside your direct control • Project management instead of self management
  20. 20. interviewing for capabilities • Talk tech, do they have a proper understanding of fundamentals • Code review • Code test, provide a quick challenge to assess their knowledge and problem solving • Portfolio
  21. 21. interview for talent • Find recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that match the job • Ask open ended questions • How closely do you think people should be supervised? • What do you enjoy about… • Listen for specifics: Past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior • "Tell me about a time when you…"
  22. 22. interview for talent • Clues to talent • Rapid learning - ask the candidate what kinds of roles she has been able to learn quickly. • Satisfactions - • Ask him what his greatest personal satisfaction is. Ask him what kinds of situations give him strength. Ask him what he finds fulfilling. • Give credit to top-of-mind responses
  23. 23. qualifying opportunities • Success or Failure often determined here • Qualifiers • Availability • Money • Relationship • Subject Matter • Future Story
  24. 24. “See client projects in terms of building your brand identity” Jim Coudal
  25. 25. innerleprechaun
  26. 26. growing
  27. 27. relationships • It’s who you know... • You’re not alone • One conversation will open your eyes • Clients choose people, vendors they LIKE, are COMFORTABLE with, and they feel they can TRUST. • Talent doesn’t guarantee any of that
  28. 28. look outside your market for ideas and inspiration • Start with your clients • Other business owners • Dentist takes up orthodontics • General Contractor on hiring, estimating, and qualifying opportunities
  29. 29. capture value • Are you providing value to your clients that you are not being compensated for • value is “the ultimate determinate of price in any transaction”
  30. 30. increasing profit “profit is nothing more than a lagging indicator of what is in the hearts and minds of your customers” • The purpose of business is to create a customer • Focus on customers, not profit
  31. 31. add to your offerings via acquisition • Know your core value to your clients • Learning a new language or framework is not the only way to expand your services • Build relationships with other freelancers or partners that can • Satisfy a need • Catalyze your learning process
  32. 32. sell the pain • Example Client A • Years of incomplete projects • String of bad freelancers and contractors leaving a ton of technical debt • Continuous stream of government contracts • Where others see a horrible client, can you see an opportunity?
  33. 33. can you change a client? • Identify the pain points. Look at the business lens and determine what blocks are in need of work • Belief is the hardest to change, and near impossible from outside. • If belief is present, and processes or tools are needed, then you have a fighting chance • Trust actions more than words when assessing beliefs • The bigger the pain you alleviate, the bigger the value you provide
  34. 34. learn the yes-no • Clients will ask for things you don’t want to do • Before you answer, seek to understand • Why they want it • What the expect to get from it • Can you answer yes with • A price? • Impact to timeline?
  35. 35. Contact Me @davidortinau