Last week I started sharing some things I've learned since managing and operating my own business. I'm continually learning the importance of words and how I use them, the power of empathy, and how I can let my customers drive while maintaining control of the project. There are many more, but I believe these are fundamental building blocks to maintaing a successful business daily.
This week I'd like to share more detail of a list I created over a year ago, I use it daily to ensure that I am delivering enriching experiences to my clients—previous, current, and prospective. This is my list and although there may be values you can benefit from, I encourage you to create something of your own.
I made this list because I knew if I wanted to succeed I had to do something different. You see this isn't the first time I've tried to venture out on my own. Just after high school and during college I struggled to maintain a work/life balance and failed miserably at it.
What I needed to change were these five things, I needed to...
1. Be Available
5. Share Knowledge Freely
For years there has been a stigma regarding creatives—they're not good business people. They are skilled, talented, and innovative, but try to get them to work on a deadline or return your calls—forget it! This is the reason agencies have account executives and creative teams, often operating completely separate from each other. Let the artists make the art and the MBAs make the plans.
I knew if I was going to be successful working independently I was going to have to manage my projects, deal with clients one on one, and do the administrative work myself. Not only do I need to make sure to manage my workload, but I need to manage the face of my business and in this "new economy" there is no hours of operation. I am on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I need to meet my customers where they are and where they're going to be, I need to be mindful of their concerns before they even have them, and most importantly I need to maintain their confidence in me that I am going to deliver when and what I say I will deliver.
No more is "I'm sorry I missed your call" acceptable. You miss their call, they call someone else—it's that black and white because in the "new economy" there are hundreds of other people that do what you do and will pick up the phone when it rings.
Don't be an elusive creative. Treat your clients with respect, their time is valuable. Be transparent and be available.
Over the next four weeks I will go into depth sharing my thoughts on each of these rules and how they relate to my daily business. I hope you will follow along and be encouraged to work hard, rest often, and share your creativity with the world.
If you have questions or comments about rules, lists, or availability I'd love to hear from you—email me firstname.lastname@example.org!