3 Key business assets every freelancer should nurture and protect.

As freelancers we keep ourselves busy either doing work or looking for work.

Nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong with ignoring the key business assets on which your future success will be built.

Here are the three assets I consider essential to any freelancer who wants to grow an enduring and healthy business.

#1 – Deep relationships

The freelancer who completes one project and then seeks out another company for the next project is working inefficiently.

Far more effective is to build deep relationships with the clients you have now, so they will continue to give you work, for months and years to come.

By doing more than one project for each client, you are cutting back on the time you need to spend on finding new clients. In other words, you are maximizing your billable hours and minimizing your unbillable hours.

What does this mean in practice? It means getting closer to your clients. It means caring about each client’s business, beyond the hours you bill for. It means offering some time and insights outside of the project you are working for. It means giving more than they ask for. It means keeping in touch. It means taking them for lunch, if you have the opportunity…and paying for it.

In other words, don’t just treat each client as a meal ticket, and then walk away the instant you submit your invoice. Behave as if you are interested in a long-term relationship.

People on the client side don’t much like freelancers who are after just a one-night stand.

#2 – Unshakable trust

Be reliable. Be honest. Be truthful. Admit your mistakes. Don’t over-charge.

Those are the basics. Beyond that, let your clients know what’s going on. Let them know if you are going to be a day or an hour late. Let them know if you are having trouble with a project.

Always deliver your best work. Otherwise your clients will cease to have confidence in you, and will feel they can’t trust you to deliver the goods on a regular and reliable basis.

Trust is what will protect you from your competitors.

Given the choice between one freelancer who might be better, and another who is trusted, most clients will choose the later. Using the trusted freelancer reduces risk and anxiety.

#3 – Love for what you do

If you have read one or my previous posts on the topic, or have watched Steve Jobs’ Stanford University commencement speech from 2005, you’ll understand that finding what you do best, and loving what you do every day, is a key to success.

As a freelancer, that means finding the kind of work and the kind of clients you will enjoy the most.

You start by recognizing where your true gifts lie. Then match those gifts to a certain kind of work. Then seek out those clients most likely to give you the opportunity to shine at what you do best.

All too often, freelancers grab for any kind of work, just so long as there is money to be made. This is fine, as a way to pay some bills. But over time, it will make you miserable, and the quality of your work will suffer.

Make no mistake – loving what you do is a key business asset for any freelancer.

Summing it up…

Most freelancers behave as piece-workers, skipping from one client to another.

You would do better to behave like a business person, and work to build a growing and profitable business.

To build your business, you need first to define your assets. Then you need to nurture and protect them.

Do that, and you’ll be doing well, and still love what you do, ten and twenty years from now.

NOTE: If you want help in any aspect of finding the work you love best, check out my coaching service for freelancers.

About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach.

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