You want 2 things ::
1) To be IN-DEMAND and BOOKED OUT with clients who value what you do; and
2) To be YOUR OWN BOSS.. You want to call your own shots about WHEN you work, WHERE you’re working from and HOW you’re spending your time. BOOM!
If you’re too busy to show up for happy hour, is that hour TRULY happy? #bossphilosophy
I THINK NOT.
The problem nobody seems to be talking about (but I will call out because I’m cool like that) is this ::
…by making yourself 100% available to your clients…
…investing as much as you’ve got into growing your business…
…and living with a “hustle” mentality that is keeping you busy AF….
👉 Your ACTIONS are in DIRECT CONFLICT with that TIME FREEDOM you got into this for in the first place.
Say whaaaaa? ‘Fraid so, boss.
Work from anywhere?… that 5th straight hour on the sofa – pretending your cold coffee is fine – probably wasn’t what you meant.
Dictating your schedule on your own terms?… somehow you’re now accepting calls from clients at ridiculous hours.
Calling the shots as to how you’ll spend your time?… well, you didn’t know it meant you’d spend THIS much time in the war zone you call your inbox. Or waking up in the middle night panicked about whether you send that thing out (you did… didn’t you?… yeah, you did… hmmm maybe you should just get up and check real quick?).
Feeling boss?… not so much when you missed that deadline. Now you have a client is scolding you like the child who smells like pee. Who GROWS UP to be that kids? Ugh.
You’re a human being! You can’t possibly track as many moving parts as you have going!
Plus – and to me, this is the bigger problem! – there isn’t time to enjoy a casual happy hour when you’re operating like this.
#PROTIP :: This cycle of “busy” won’t just stop when you’re making 5- or 6- figures, or because your schedule is full, or because you’re in-demand. To the contrary, it only gets worse when you have more to lose, higher demands and bigger expectations. You’ll find yourself in a situation where instead of running your business, it’s running you. WTF!
The kryptonite to being able to provide a better client experience, to make more money while doing less work and finally positioning yourself to have it all – the booked out schedule AND your time freedom lifestyle – is to ESTABLISH A SIGNATURE PROCESS and that’s what we will be covering on the blog today!
GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER
When you’re selling services, there are 3 things you can’t possibly get away with not knowing like they’re the lyrics to your favorite song. These include ::
1) who your IDEAL CLIENT is,
2) what you have to OFFER these people; and
3) how to PACKAGE these as a total no-brainer purchase for your peeps.
I know, I know. You’re tired of hearing how important it is to know your ideal client. You can’t bear the thought of doing another one of those client avatar exercises. I wouldn’t dream of telling you to do one, either, boss!
INSTEAD?… Think of someone specific that you have worked with or you’ve helped that you see as your ideal client. Not an avatar or a caricature or a personality type. One single real-life person who has a name, who has a life, who has hopes and dreams.
#PROTIP :: If you haven’t actually worked with anyone yet, it’s cool to use the past version of yourself as your ideal client.
M’kay so do you have that #IRL person you’re targeting to help? Got their name? Good!
Because now that you have an actual walking and talking person, you can now make every decision about your business with THAT SPECIFIC PERSON in mind.
For example, you had a genius idea about this thing you wanted to offer. I mean, this is amaze-balls stuff! You’re gonna change the world. ( 👈 we’ve all been there, amirite?)
You’re looking at domains. You’re ready to drop everything else. This earth-shattering idea is da shiiiiiiit!
…that is, until you think of Shelly or Siobhan or Shareene or whatever your ideal client’s name is. You take your new spark of genius as it relates to Shelly and realize… it’s still a great idea but Shelly doesn’t need or want that. Like, at all. There’s nothing cohesive about this new offer to how you actually serve your peeps or what they need from you.
This little nugget of knowledge can make the difference between WASTING WEEKS and MONTHS ON DISTRACTIONS versus being THE GO-TO PERSON IN YOUR FIELD because you’re always creating content that your peeps crave and buy.
Likewise, when you have an amaze-balls idea that DOES align with your ideal client? You can mold and shape that idea into being exactly what you know Shelly (or Siobhan or Shareene) wants – what she really-really wants! ( 👈 you totally sang that).
Create the offer Shelly can’t refuse. You know how Shelly talks and use her language to promote your thing. It’s your job to package your idea into what you know Shelly will feel is THE perfect thing.
You are inside her head, reading her thoughts, like a creepy clairvoyant voodoo witchdoctor who knows and understands everything about her. 👈 P.S. this is how you get someone to say “take all my money, please”
#PROTIP :: Nobody likes à la carte packages. Seriously, knock dat off. If people are seeking out help, it is because they already feel overwhelmed and your plethora of options – while interesting – don’t help you make the sale.
Don’t create work for the person who wants to hire you. Package what you know Shelly needs and if she needs a little extra something-something, remember that you can always suggest an add-on.
TL;DR OF STEP 1 TO ESTABLISHING YOUR SIGNATURE PROCESS
Know your client #IRL and by name. Solve their problem with an offer they can’t refuse. Package this as a no-brainer purchase.
Most business courses you take starts with “knowing your client” for this exact reason. Everything else can and will easily fall into place – including delicious offers and drool-worthy packages – when you get super-specific about who you serve.
MAKE IT OFFICIAL
You’re not playing jazz here. You’re running a business. Start acting like it.
#toughlove translation :: You shouldn’t re-invent the wheel with every project. You’re a professional, goddamnit it. As such, you need a standard of operations in place for the way you operate – every! single! time!
And please! Before you start sassing me about how it “stifles your creativity to follow rules” or how “each client is unique and different”, hear me out on this.
I couldn’t agree more that every project has a different energy and every client is a beautiful snowflake… BUT! the steps and follow-through required to fulfill your projects will always be the same, regardless of what you’re working on or for whom.
In fact, I would argue that it is BECAUSE of your creativity and desire to cater to the individual that you need to establish a set standard of processes. The truth is that when you’re working with clients and you have so many different aspects to factor, it is all too easy to get distracted. We both know how it goes :: your work for Client A gets interrupted by the needs for an urgent revision by Client B and then that reminds you of that thing you had to do for Client C until Client A comes back to you, asking where their thing is… and WTF, you remember finishing it but… ah snap! you didn’t send it!
If you had a process in place to track all of this FOR you, then you wouldn’t worry about what fell between the cracks. You could focus on delivering amazing service instead of spreading yourself thin trying to remember “all the things”.
So put THAT into your creativity excuse and smoke it!
How will you set up a process that tracks everything for you?
You’re going to create what is called a WORKFLOW :: this is an OUTLINE of everything that goes into a service and a TIMELINE by which your deliverables are scheduled.
By having a workflow in place, you are positioning yourself to ::
- Be ORGANIZED AF with your entire paper-trail – from contracts to invoices to scheduling – getting done like the freaking professional you are… except you spend exactly zero minutes managing any of it because it all happens on auto-pilot, hands off the wheel;
- Never have to bring up overdue payments again because being streamlined means you GET PAID ON TIME, EVERY TIME; and
- Ditch the WTF feeling and start each workday with the CONFIDENCE THAT YOU’VE GOT THIS FREELANCING THING COVERED like Sweet Caroline at a tourist trap karaoke bar.
TL;DR OF STEP 2 TO ESTABLISHING YOUR SIGNATURE PROCESS
Establish a workflow for each of your services and use it – every! single! time!
YOUR TRIFECTA OF DOCUMENTS
Once you’ve established your workflow, you will need to create the documents necessary to populate that workflow.
There are 3 must-have documents that you can’t afford to be freelancing without having in place BEFORE you start doing any of the actual project work.
Some may call this a quote, an invoice, maybe even a proposal. What you call it matters much less than how you use it. These are an integral part of selling services because this is where you and your client get on the same page as to what is included in your service.
You’ll want to make sure you bullet-point what exactly is included at what cost. If you have a service that you know people frequently have added on or that you typically upsell, you want to include a link detailing the cost and availability of this add-on. Make it clear that this is not part of the offer.
For instance, let’s say you offer a paleo meal service delivery.
Your bullet-point would look something like ::
• 3 single-serving lunches;
• 3 single-serving dinners;
• 5 grab-and-go snacks; and
• Deliveries made on Mondays
Optional available to complete weekday meal delivery with 5 single-serving lunches or to include double-portion dinner delivery – click here for details.
👉 This can’t be misunderstood by any rational, reasonable human being. 👈
We often think of a proposal as simply presenting the price to clients. Try to shift your mindset about this document as being more of a “Contract Lite” :: you are taking the opportunity to be clear about what is (and is not!) included and you’re making damned sure that everyone is on the same page about what is being paid for (and not paid for!) BEFORE money is exchanged.
People often won’t read a Contract. (I mean, did YOU read the Terms and Conditions before you clicked the I AGREE button, hmm?) But when they’re getting ready to fork over dat cash? You better believe they’re paying attention! Instead of treating your quote as a formality, make the most of it by squashing any awkward conversations that may take place in the future about how they “thought there would be enough food for two”.
Why? Why would you think this? If your terms are clearer than Waterford crystal, you can simply refer these requests back to the original document.
Speaking of contracts, you still need one even if your quote/proposal is on-point, got it?
I’m so serious right now. No balloon? No party!
As a professional, it is your job to protect yourself AND your client. You’ll want to consider implementing some (or all!) of the following clauses and explaining your position in areas like ::
• RELATIONSHIP OF PARTIES :: who owes what to whom;
• NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS :: what can be shared and published;
• NON-SOLICITATION :: especially relevant with joint ventures;
• WORK PRODUCT OWNERSHIPS :: who owns what, when everything is said and done;
• CONFIDENTIALITY :: a lot like non-disclosure but generally relates to more personal information than business;
• LIABILITY :: because shit happens – and it’s best for everyone to know the plan to deal with it ahead of time; and
• PAYMENT SCHEDULE :: for reasons obvious to both you and your timely mortgage payment.
Contracts are a big deal and they’re not about power tripping or pulling a fast one or being mean. A contract is about getting two parties on the same page of what is expected of one another. Since you’re a super-together boss, it’s your job to initiate that conversation.
YOUR WELCOME PACKAGE
Also called Service Guides, Starter Kits or Intro Packets, you can download a template for your own use here.
In short, the advantage of using a Welcome Package is that it helps you ::
• Outline your processes and timelines;
• Establish client expectations and boundaries; and
• Let clients know what you need from them to move forward.
You can use a Welcome Package to be sent BEFORE the sale is made as a means of assessing if you are a “right fit”, in which case your Welcome Package would also include a Client Intake Questionnaire.
However, you may want to reserve this for AFTER the sale is made to direct your new buyer like air traffic control towards the next step.
When you send this will depend on how you set up your workflow and your service. The goal here is to usher your client forward with the assurance that they’re in good hands for having invested in you.
TL;DR OF STEP 3 TO ESTABLISHING YOUR SIGNATURE PROCESS
Use a proposal to outline/confirm what you will be delivering.
Establish a contract that serves to protect you AND your client.
Consider a Welcome Package to provide guidance about how things go down with your service.
And as a little extra, you may need a Client Intake Questionnaire but that depends on the nature of your services.
Need help with these? Scroll down to the bottom of this post for help.
PLUG and PLAY
This is my favorite part of the day… are you ready for this?
Why don’t we automate the hell out of selling your services! #handsoffthewheel
Because your workflow isn’t just another thing to add to your To Do list or track. It IS your To Do list and tracks its own damned self – woot! woot!
In fact, it tracks YOU better than any assistant can. Even better than your mom did in 10th grade (or is that just me?).
Furthermore, all of those documents mentioned earlier? You never have to manually fill in or email or copy-and-paste another one of these things ever again (unless, of course, you want to!)
So how are we going to pull that off? You can use a traditional CRM (aka :: Customer Relationship Manager or Client Response Manager) like Dubsado or 17hats. But you can also copy my test-paper and see how I combine Airtable as my CRM and project management system, all in one. Did I mention it’s free? Yups!
TL;DR OF STEP 4 TO ESTABLISHING YOUR SIGNATURE PROCESS
Plug in each step and every document of your workflow into your CRM. Know it, love it, wonder how you ever lived without it.
All this to say…
- Start by getting your shit together about WHO YOU SERVE, what you have to OFFER them and PACKAGE that accordingly.
- Establish a standard of operations – or a WORKFLOW – that you will use to make sure that you make like Aerosmith on the Armageddon soundtrack because You Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.
- Then, cover your bases with the trifecta of documents that will on-board your clients in a way that helps kill off any buyer’s remorse or self-doubt that sometimes creeps in to instead make them feel like you’re a real professional who knows what you’re doing and they’ve made a good decision in hiring you.
- And finally, you’ll plug those steps into a CRM that will automate all the BS paperwork that was keeping you busy AF.
Is it a heck-ton ( 👈 official measure. it’s metric) of work? Yup, I’m not gonna lie :: THIS WILL BE AN INITIAL INVESTMENT of your time, energy and focus to set up!
KEYWORD ALERT :: “Investment”. This means that the time you invest into the initial set-up of DOING THIS DOES PAY OFF in dividends.
KEYWORD ALERT #2 :: “Initial”. Meaning, the first time. Because ONCE is exactly how many times you need to set this up and it’ll keep working for you. It’s basically the next best (and legal!) alternative to cloning yourself.
All of the hours you’d otherwise spend managing the on-boarding process is now a license for you to use that time to, well, do whatever the hell you want! Because you’ve set yourself up to be free to take on more clients, to do stuff with your kids, or to hang out at happy hour with MEEEEEE!!!