January 12, 2018

Moving beyond freelancing

When you were a one-man-show, how did you manage (website) projects so as to not overwhelm yourself?

My answer:

I’ve a dozen monthly recurring clients on the go at the moment. I’m creaking at the seams but welcome it.

I want to get to a hundred+, but I’m not rushing because the high friction of working at the coal face means I get to polish my people, processes, and technology.

Your infrastructure is your people, processes, and technology. Very important to think of all three.

I also think that hiring great people is the most important thing at the start. As you develop your processes, and then technology, you can hire or outsource to people who want to follow processes rather than the people who’ll create and document the processes and move onto the next challenge.

Be aware that some people prefer moving forward, others prefer doing the same thing daily and going home (employee mindset).

Remember this young guns:

“You can go slower than you think.”

Most importantly, you’ve chosen to overcome this hurdle. That’s THE most important step. Some people prefer to keep the same number of clients, but to go upstream and charge more. That’s a great strategy.

Me personally, I want to go downstream and have more clients. So the problems I choose to solve are to do with scaling, rather than selling higher ticket etc.

What I am building to sell is my business, not the products or services I think I sell.

Process improvement happens when we take them through this lifecycle:
1) Ad-hoc (first few times doing it).
2) Defined (I keep doing this – better add it to my list of processes to improve).
3) Documented.
4) Repeatable (It ain’t Repeatable till someone else has stepped through it.)
5) Automated (as much as possible or sensible).
6) Optimised (as much as is sensible).

I keep filling up my schedule until:
1) I am forced to do things differently. Like drop stuff I was doing that clients don’t gaf about anyway. Aka focus on billable work.
2) I find stuff that is low maintenance and try to get people onto that.
3) I WELCOME the new problem of too much work. A new problem means you’re making progress. No new problems means you’re stuck.

Be aware of the potential sliding scale you may wish to follow:

… to Freelancer
… to Agency Owner (bespoke)
… to Agency Owner (cookie-cutter)
… to Productised Service
… to Platform

I’m constantly trying to work out how to move along this sliding scale.

I don’t think we can skips steps. I think we have to engage the market in hand-to-hand combat before we can build anything they truly want.