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12 Steps to Freelance Startup - Part 1 | Freelance Sprout | Find, Start, and Grow Your Dream Freelance Business
Read the six part series on creating a freelance business plan
 

12 Steps to Freelance Startup - Part 1

Date April 8, 2008


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Post-its
Creative Commons License photo credit: adactio

You may remember the definition of a straight line from your math class. It’s the shortest distance between two points. I’m giving you a new term today—a “money line”.

So, what’s the definition of a money line? It’s the shortest distance between an idea in your head and a freelance business that puts cash in your bank account.

Suppose you wanted to see how fast you could turn an idea in your head into a full fledged business. What steps would you take? In this first part of a two part series, the following 6 actions are the steps you can take to make it happen.

Step 1. Create a database that matches your passion and experience

If you want to prosper in this business, you should be doing the stuff that matches your passion and your expertise.

By exploring the Standard Rate and Data Service publication at your local library, you can see lists of publications, newsletters, and magazines that cater to people who are interested in more topics that you can think of.

The audience you choose should be a large and growing “school of fish” that is hungry and ready to buy what you have to offer. Since you will be starting from scratch, you’ll have to build a database from the names of your closest friends, family members, groups you belong to, co-workers, and anyone else you meet.

The key is to find your target audience. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests?

Step 2. Discover what information is vital to your market

What do your customers want? Have you asked them? Are you trying to sell them what they want or what you think they want? Find out what information is vital to them and how they want that information.

Every market is trying to solve problems at some level. By finding out where your market looks for solutions, you’ll be able to find which services are meeting—or not— their needs.

Step 3. Discover if anyone else is already providing a service to this group

This is where the Web will come in handy. Look for others who might be offering the services you want to offer. Make a list of the top 5 companies.

Step 4. Discover how those 5 best companies target their audience(s)

Are they advertising? Do they have a toll free number? Live-chat? Try to find out how they are spending most of their time reaching their customers.

Step 5. Look for the services they’ve overlooked

Probe their weaknesses. If possible, inquire about their services. What makes it so special? Is it the design? Is it a matter of marketing? Find out their strengths. What niche can you exploit that they might not be reaching?

Step 6. Create a competitive advantage based on competitor weaknesses

Remember, people will always take the path of least resistance. If they have a choice between easy and hard, they’ll take easy every single time. If they have a choice between simple and complicated, they’ll take simple every single time. If you can provide these things at a price that is slightly lower than your competitor, odds are that you can “steal” a handful of customers.

A word about competition. Sometimes a beginner starts with what she feels like is a great idea. She runs with the idea, starts to market it, and then realizes there are several, well established businesses already selling the same thing! She’s discouraged now.

First, understand there are billions of people on this planet. We normally think of our market as those in our city, state, or country. But people like competition because they feel like they have a say in who they choose to buy from.

Second, remember that big companies can’t reach smaller niches—niches that can set you up for life but aren’t worth it to larger competitors. But, you still have to focus on your competitive advantage. What makes your service competitive? To gain a competitive advantage, your service must be…

  • faster
  • cheaper
  • smaller
  • simpler
  • easier
  • more efficient
  • more secure (better guarantee)
  • more features
  • better valued
  • better designed
  • better serviced
  • more available

Stay tuned later this week for the remaining steps.

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Related posts:

  1. Things to Think About When Setting Your Prices
  2. 7 Basic Keys to Freelance Success
  3. How To Effectively Handle Rejection

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