Build a Freelance Plan of Action
This is your freelancing plan of action and I like this, I like writing things down, and what we're gonna talk about today is being specific. There is this general idea that I wanna be a freelancer. I talked to a few of you before the class started today, and the idea of what you wanna do. If you can give me a specific answer, if you know what that means to you, and you write it down, you're much more likely to start to put actions together to achieve those results, right? So I love this statement, because it's true. If I put something down and I wanna complete something and I understand what steps I need to take and sometimes I don't know, so I have to ask my network. I wanna do this, how do I do this? If I put it down, then I can break it into easy steps for me to go ahead and take care of so that's what I do. I like SMART goals; it makes it really easy for me to then understand, and that's about being specific. A lot of times, goals can be so general, there's really no way to measur...
e it, and then I say, well, I think I've achieved that, but the results don't come in the way I expect them to, and in this case, your results might be earned income, right? Or in this case, the result might be, I'm now becoming a thought leader in my market. People look to me for answers on what I talk about. So if I want those results, I have to have specific reasons and actions to take based on my goals, so these are your SMART goals. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. The specific is how what where when, right? What is that goal? The measurable is your criteria for how you measure that goal, how much, how many, and if you write that down, then you know if you've actually achieved that goal. I see a lot of people when I talk to them and we do goal sessions a lot, and they say this is my goal, if they don't know how they achieve it, they don't know when they achieve it. The next step is your attainable, and that is, can you develop strategies and attitudes? Do you have the ability to achieve that? And also do you have the financial ability to do that? So part of being a freelancer, and when you put a goal together, is, can I afford to do this? And part of that is understanding what it takes if you are leaving a permanent job into a freelance role where you want all of your income to come from there or if you're gonna test it. Let me keep my permanent job, but I'm gonna take some additional work on the side. It's a very big difference in what financial plan you have to put together in order to do that. The realistic is are you willing and able to work toward that goal? Like let's be honest, do I really want that goal? Am I willing to do it, and am I capable? If my goal today is, I wanna start a freelance business that I've never done before, I wanna earn a hundred thousand dollars this year with zero clients, I have to take a look at that and say, how do I do that? It is possible, but I have to put steps and actions together, and then timely is sense of urgency. If you don't put a time on it, then it's like, well, okay, maybe next week, or I don't have time, I didn't have time, I didn't have time to do this, right? Or Real Housewives was on and I wanted to watch TV a little bit or whatever it is, and that happens all the time, where we go, okay look, I wanna do this, but the truth is, other stuff got in the way, and that's friends, family, fun, I am working a full time job, and you have to be realistic. If you work a full time job and then you say I wanna go and do freelance on the side, how tired are you when you get home? What are you willing to sacrifice? What are you willing to compromise on in order to build this business? It takes a little bit of time and it takes a little bit of effort. The assumption I'm making today is, you're all doing that, right? You're putting the effort in, you have the drive to do that, so I'm gonna give you the steps to go ahead and actually start to see what the results can be so that's your SMART goal. Here's a goal: I'm gonna start freelancing to make some extra cash. Pretty general, right? And that's the goal that most people start with. I don't know what that means yet. What are you doing, what's the timeframe, what's the actual specific goal that you're trying to look for, right? So if I'm gonna switch that into a SMART goal, I might put something like this down, and we'll use this example a little bit today. I'm gonna complete those three freelance contracts, add them to my portfolio, and accept full payment by December 31st. Now I have something to work with. Now I have a challenge, because I love a challenge. If you go to networking events, and people ask you what you do, I challenge myself to have something that I'm doing, so I like to answer them with what I'm doing. Because if I just say to them, this is what I do, more often it's because I haven't done it yet or I'm trying to do it, so my challenge is do that work, talk to them about what I'm doing today, and that's a SMART goal. So when I look at that, it's measurable, right? Three contracts, full payment, add the additions to my portfolio. It's definitely attainable if I put together those strategies and say, this is what I need to do, and we'll talk about a freelance plan of action in just a second. It's pretty realistic; I think I'm capable of doing that. Am I prepared to meet this goal? Yeah; now I'll go meet this goal. And then I know what time, I wanna do this by December 31st; pretty realistic, right? If I said by whenever, I wanna make sure that I'm capable of doing that, so that's my SMART goal. Now I have a plan of action, and what a plan of action is, really, for businesses, it's not your business plan. Because someone might say to you, go and write a business plan on what you wanna do as a freelancer, and this is not a business course. This is about getting out there and testing it. A plan of action is taking your small goals and just literally writing down what you need to do to achieve that goal. Your plan could be those three freelance contracts so I'm gonna write down exactly what I need in order to achieve those goals. So here's an example of a plan of action worksheet, right? It's an action step, here's my goal, measures of success, and then exactly what I need to do to achieve that goal, and that's in the workbook. So it's really simple, it gives you an idea. I like to do this on a weekly basis. What am I trying to do this week? It might be because I don't have work set up. It might be that I'm actually gonna find three new clients, by this date. How do I put that down into a SMART goal and then how do I put a plan of action together? I have to do research, I have to know what events are out there, I have to look at who my network is right now, and try and get some clients out of them, so in this case, your action step, you're literally breaking down the specific steps to reach that goal. So now you don't have to worry about it. Now you don't have to think, what didn't I do? And it gets easier because the more you do this the more you realize, okay look, if my goal is three freelance contracts and I get it, if my next goal is I want three more freelance contracts, I replicate that. What did I do, what actions did I take, what worked, what didn't, if it's on paper, I can actually check and see what I did do successfully and what didn't work as well, and then I can replicate it. So in this case, the resources are literally whatever or whoever you need to help you. It could be network, it could be financial in some sense, right? It could be specific people, so you're gonna write that down. Here's the example we used, right? I'm gonna complete those three freelance contracts. So I certainly have my action steps. First thing, and this is something that we forget all the time: let people know we're doing this. And that's the fear factor. When I look for new work, I have a subject line in my email which says accepting all offers. And my network knows I'm out there doing something and I'm looking for stuff and once I get what I need in sense of maybe it's a position I'm looking for or another job or something of that nature I send another email that says thanks, here's what I'm doing, and I let them know, here's what I'm doing. How can I help you now that I'm doing this? And that's how I work with my network. So in this case, announce to your network. We're gonna talk about building it in a minute. But if you don't let them know, and that's that sort of soft test of (whispers) I'm sort of freelancing but I don't want anyone to know, right? Because I don't want to mess up. It doesn't matter, so let your network know. Your network wants to help you. They wanna see you be successful. And if you're successful, they will actually become successful possibly down the road. And we'll talk about a little bit today this idea of developing relationships with other freelancers in your line because you will actually get a lot of work that way. You will give a lot of work that way. You're not this island in your career. As a freelancer, you actually can build relationships where you get additional work and that's the best part about it. So this is how I'll put together my plan of action, very simple, so research possible clients. I might put down a cost because I'm gonna take them out for coffee. I'm gonna get to know them, talk to them, I have questions that I need to ask them, so that's how I put a plan of action together, and I've put specific timeline, so I know. For me, I like to write things down, but I also kind of use it for a way to tell me what to do otherwise because I'm a freelancer often, I get distracted, a shiny object over here, let me go do this, I like to do this, or I'm tired today, right? I don't wanna go do that, but if I look at my timeline, it gives me that motivation to say, listen, if I do this now, and I get set up, then I get to do what I've always wanted to do as a freelancer which is take a couple days off if I choose or that might lead to a bigger project and once I make that extra income then I can take a vacation that I choose to take when I choose to take it, so that's one of the reasons why I love this. Here's another way to put your plan of action together. Because you might say to yourself, I don't even know what my goals are yet. How do I get started, right? Because it's kind of a broad idea of this week I wanna do this. But I've never started a freelance business before, so how do I do that? So here's a great list of questions that I love to ask when I'm putting goals together where I'm not sure what I'm trying to achieve. I'm in this place sometimes where there's a lot of tension because I'm trying to build my business but I'm not sure what's happening with it. So I ask these questions, and some of the more important ones are what am I willing to compromise on, and what am I willing to sacrifice? As I mentioned earlier, for my business I like to say I do it a little bit better than the competition, and that's a goal of mine because I want my clients to come back and say, we really enjoy working with you on many levels, your professionalism, your ease to work with, and your service is actually well done, right? So I'm not willing to compromise on quality. I'm gonna say to myself, this is what I keep and this is part of who I am, it's my reputation. So I have to look at what else I'm willing to compromise. Sometimes it's the fact that I'll work when there's holidays. Sometimes I'm willing to compromise and say, I'm not going to take this additional project on so that I can keep the quality of my work up. I also have to know what I'm willing to sacrifice. Am I willing to sacrifice time with family or am I willing to sacrifice other things in order to build this business? And this is where you get to be honest because you can do this for a little extra cash. You don't have to build this into a giant business, so if you say, you know what, I'm actually not willing to give up all of my free time because I love doing fun stuff too, then you get to say, I'm gonna give myself X amount of hours a month to work as a freelancer, and when you know that, now your plan of action is really specific. I am building goals based on the fact that I have to complete this in 20 hours a month or 10 hours a month or five hours a week. That might be one project a month. But when I look at billing, now I'm earning extra income, that's exactly what I wanted to achieve.