I specialize in getting projects and their workflows launched, fixed and optimized, even for difficult clients. I've done this for startups, Fortune 500 companies and large federal government agencies, across a wide range of industries. Let's talk if you need help getting your project launched, unstuck or back on track. Think your project can be doing better? Let's talk about how to optimize it.
I chose the wrong partners a few times early in my career. The first step to fix this trend for me was to understand why I was picking the wrong partners. I realized it came down to my own inability to trust myself and what I was capable of accomplishing.
That's not to say I can do it all myself. I've also come to appreciate the importance of connection more than ever. This might seem like a paradox. Let me try and explain how this worked for me.
Early in my career I felt smart and capable. I was also afraid of trusting myself and my ability. This caused me to suppress my true qualities. This led me to selling myself short.
I felt the need to rely on the wrong people for the wrong things. In one extreme example, a board member of a company I was founding suggested I become the CEO, rather than the COO.
I told him all the reasons why I thought my co-founder would make a better CEO than me. The results were somewhat disastrous. We burned through a lot of money, really fast and the company folded. I still hold myself accountable for not stepping up and doing what I was capable of doing as CEO.
I've learned a lot since then. I've learned to trust myself. I've learned to recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I was always good at identifying weaknesses. Learning to address my strengths took time.
Because once you identify your strengths, it's necessary to act on, not suppress them. Learning to deal with my fear of embracing my own potential has helped me act on my strengths and not suppress them.
I'm not so quick to rely on others now. At the same time, I consciously seek out partners who have skills that complement mine. I also look for partners who share similar values. Finding the value match can be harder than finding the skills complement.
Finding the right match takes time. I'm more patient now, too. I used to favor progress and speed over everything else. This also led to choosing the wrong partner. Now I'm mindful of taking more time than may be initially comfortable to finding the right partner. Rediscovering the power of openness and connection helps me meet more potential partners.
Taking a more deliberate approach means saying no to people and opportunities. That means opportunities may take a little while to manifest. I'm convinced this investment in patience now will pay off in the long run.
Finding the right partner will increase your chances of becoming successful. It will help you enjoy the journey toward success too.
Best of luck on your search. I'd be happy to dig deeper into this with you on a call. My hope would be to help you avoid the mistakes I made and benefit from the discoveries too!
Figure out why your existing clients pay you. This will help you figure out what you do well that other people value. If someone will pay you to do work, they believe the work they’re paying you to do is valuable and that you’ll do it well.
Figuring out what you do well and is valuable to others will be the key to your success as a freelancer. More and more skills are becoming commoditized. Commodity skills are moving higher up the value chain.
Doing an easily repeated task well will not differentiate you. You want to differentiate yourself in a market that gets more crowded every day.
It’s hard to look at yourself and figure out what differentiates you. It’s easier to learn what makes you stand out from the crowd, by listening to what are other people are telling you.
I’m not suggesting you should let other peoples’ perspectives define you. I’m suggesting you listen to what other people tell you they value in your work.
The easiest way to hear what they’re trying to to tell you is to see what they will pay you to do. You can then grow your business by finding other clients who value your work.
You need to figure out what work that is first, before trying to grow your freelancing business. A key question to ask is whether you can find and/or train others to do what clients pay you to do, as well as you can do it.
My experience consulting for 20+ years has been that most people starting consulting businesses begin by saying they don't want to be a "body shop". This means they want to start a business with differentiated value.
The story changes when clients start offering to pay for bodies that do commoditized work. Keep an eye on this tendency as take on more work to grow the business.
Also, I'd suggest you read Rework, by Jason Fried. The book provides a compelling counter-perspective to the goals it sounds like you have for your business. If nothing else, it will help you reflect on why you want to grow and hire people.
I'd be happy to continue this discussion on a call. Best of luck to you either way!
My vote goes to Mattermark and the Mattermark daily as well. Mattermark initially came to my attention through this post from Brad Feld -
It turns out Brad's also an investor, which I didn't realize when I subscribed to the Mattermark Daily -
Nevertheless, I'm happy to be a subscriber to such a well curated source of daily news about the VC and Startup world!
I cofounded a startup that was able to raise a mid-seven figure Series A round of funding. What I learned is that when that kind of money is raised, service providers wanting a piece of it start circling like sharks. In this case, if you're only paying this developer in cash, I'd put him into the service provider category, which is why I believe my experience is relevant to your question.
We ended up paying big salaries and consulting fees. We didn't share much equity. This created serious misalignment between the motivations of our service providers and our company.
In our case, our development team was an offshore one, with an overly aggressive salesman hovering in our office, slipping invoices under my door for work we didn't request. They saw a pool of money sitting there and were doing everything they could do extract as much of it, as quickly as they could. I realize this may be an extreme example, however you might be surprised at how quickly this may happen when sharks smell money in the water.
One lesson I learned is it's much easier (and fun!) to reach the company's goals when the motivations of everyone are synchronized. It's much harder, if not impossible, when some stakeholders are motivated by short term gains and others by the longer term payout.
Especially if you're a small team, you want everyone in this together, moving toward and motivated by the same goals. Even if the developer feels like he's being fairly compensated now, my sense is that resentment may grow as the equity value of the company far eclipses what he's being paid, especially if he can draw a direct correlation between his work and value created.
So if you're not interested in giving away equity and that what motivates this particular developer, I'd suggest either -
-Getting comfortable with giving away equity
-Finding another developer
Happy to discuss further on a call, having lived it and learned this lesson the hard way ;)
I'm feeling excited to see this question and have an opportunity to answer it. I'm a reformed "go-it-aloner" and strongly believe that no entrepreneur can be successful and happy without support from others.
While entrepreneurs usually exhibit a strong tendency toward independence, none of us can possibly know it all and building a support team doesn't mean sacrificing our independence.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Recognizing your internal strengths, being mindful of your weaknesses, then finding a team to round out your talents, particularly related to your weaknesses, can be a very powerful approach.
Support takes the form of the "hard" skills, like technology, sales, marketing, finance, legal and admin. I personally find that support in the "softer" areas, like dealing with the emotional roller coaster most entrepreneurs experience, to be at least as important and probably more important that the "hard" support.
In my case, I'm pretty strong operationally and weak in sales and marketing. As a result, I look for partners who are strong in sales and marketing.
My emotional support team includes my wife, therapist and cycling coach. Because I believe that emotional strength needs to be supported by a strong foundation of holistic wellbeing, I'm also fortunate to work with the aforementioned cycling coach, yoga instructor and natural medicine doctor.
Finally, don't underestimate the power of being connected with groups of like-minded people. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely road and being connected to online or in-person communities of people with shared experiences can be a huge help in pushing through when the going gets tough.
Hope that's helpful and always happy to discuss further on a call! Feel free to drop me a line through Clarity or my blog, http://justrollingwith.it/contact and I'd be glad to share my code with you for a free 15 minute call.
Either way, best of luck to you :)
As a fellow entrepreneur, I struggled with keeping focus for a very long time. Entrepreneurs have tons of ideas running around in our heads and are usually self-directed/managed, which makes it very easy for us to get distracted and pulled in a million directions!
The answer for me has been to set a limited number priorities for my day, every day. I actually just published a trending post on Medium earlier this week to describe how I do it.
Here's a brief excerpt -
Most people think making their day more productive also means ADDING stress to the day. That doesn’t have to be the case. By setting priorities for your day, you can actually become MORE PRODUCTIVE and LESS STRESSED at the same time.
Setting priorities for your day allows you to -
1 — Determine your most important tasks (MIT’s) that need to get done that day
2 — Set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish in a day
3 — Stay focused throughout the day
4 — Stay motivated throughout the day
5 — Enjoy a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day
6 — Rest and recharge
If you'd like to read the rest of the post, you can find it here -
Happy to answer any questions you may have about the more productive and less stressful day on a call!
I've been a consultant, both independently and through two of the "Big 5" consulting firms, for the majority of my career.
I've recently discovered that I have a serious aversion to time-based billing, that's been buried deep down in my subconscious for a while. Because of this discovery, I've been trying hard to break the direct bond between hours worked and income generated.
The concept of value-based billing can be very appealing in this regard. The co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, Mike McDerment, wrote a pretty interesting and entertaining eBook on the subject, called Breaking the Time Barrier -
It's worth a quick read, if for no other reason than to experience a different way of thinking when it comes to billing for services.
Here are some of the stumbling blocks I've experienced, when trying to put value-based billing into practice -
1 - Finding the clients who are willing to take the time to hear you out on the approach
2 - Finding the clients who can appreciate the approach, however if you get through #1, #2 seems to be a bit easier, since their minds are already open enough to consider it
3 - Waiting out the time it takes to find and educate the "right" clients, as Mike describes them in the book, when you have bills to pay :)
I do feel that value-based billing makes a lot of sense for both the client and the service provider.
One thing that value-based billing does well is resolve the paradox between the client's goal of having a project delivered at a reasonable price and the service provider's goal of generating revenue, which, by nature, are somewhat at odds from the outset, since the client usually wants to pay for the fewest # of hours possible (whether they admit that or not, that's another story), while the service provider wants to put the time in it takes to get the job done right.
I've worked with Virtual Assistants for about 7 years now and am a big fan of Fancy Hands. Fancy Hands has become my go-to after working with a number of virtual assistants I've found on Elance/Odesk (before they became Upwork) and Zirtual.
Fancy Hands has completed over 1200 tasks for me. Of the 1200 tasks, many have been of the type you describe, so I think you'd be very happy with their service.
They also have a tiered pricing structure, so you can find a plan that fits well with your budget. Of all the VA's I've tried, I've also found that Fancy Hands has the most favorable price/value ratio, when you break their pricing down at a cost/task level.
You can find less expensive VA's on Upwork, however my experience has been that they actually become more expensive, by either taking longer to get something right or by taking more of your time to explain something to them, which starts to defeat the purpose of using VA's in the first place!
To me, the big benefit of a service like Zirtual, that you won't get from Fancy Hands, is the historical knowledge and relationship that you build with a dedicated or semi-dedicated VA, like Zirtual gives you. That said, for the one-off types of tasks you describe in your question, I still think Fancy Hands would be a pretty solid fit for you.
Good luck with your choice and always happy to discuss further on a call!
This is a fantastic question and one I'm actually living through as I type this. My son was born two months ago.
I'm currently too far down the road of an entirely new career and life path to turn back, although not so far down the road that the income I left behind hasn't been replaced by the income I'm pursuing. I'm pursing the new income by starting a new company as well.
It's been hard and that's the truth. That said, it's been rewarding as well. I have to remind myself how rewarding it is by thinking about how fortunate I am for things like going to doctors appointments with my son and wife, just being able to take a 30 minute break and play with my son, etc.
So, to answer your question, here are a few things that are helping -
1 - Setting very clear boundaries in my day. When I'm working I'm working. When I'm not working, I'm not working. This includes putting the phone away, in a drawer, out of sight, when I'm not working.
2 - Set aside time for work and family. Maintain the clear boundaries. Communicate these times to my wife, so she knows what to expect in advance.
3 - Go somewhere physically separate when I'm working. I'm still working from home, in an NYC apartment. Fortunately the apartment has a comfortable common area for me to use. I go there when I work. Making the separation clear and obvious helps avoid frustrations that me or my wife may experience, by me not being fully present with them when I am physically present.
4 - Finally, set my work priorities each day. Fortunately, I set up a system a while ago that helps me be more productive and reduce my stress each day, by setting 3-6 priorities, first thing every morning.
This has been a life-saver since my son was born. First, it helps me focus back on what's important throughout the day, as I inevitably get pulled away unexpectedly during the day.
Second, it forces me set realistic expectations as to what I can really get done, rather than set unrealistic expectations I can never meet, which would only leave me in a place of frustration, that would inevitably carry over into my personal life.
Setting these priorities helps me remember that I am actually getting the important stuff for work done, while balancing the family responsibilities and enjoyment!
Good luck and always happy to discuss further on a call!
I had a similar dilemma recently, when building out my website to help grow my project management and consulting business. I ultimately went with my first name and last name as the domain, mainly because my specific goal for this particular site was to inform people who already know me that I was available to take on new projects.
I'm also offering coaching services. These are separate from my project management and consulting business and are related to the principles I discuss on my blog. I'm using the coach.me platform for coaching, so am using my profile on their site as my primary coaching site and promoting it through my blog. People are more likely to come to the blog based on what I discuss, i.e. mindful wellness for entrepreneurs, rather than who I am. So in this case, I have the blog name as the URL, rather than my name. Once people find the blog, they can find me on coach.me.
Finally for therapy services, as someone who's been seeing a therapist for a few years now, I'd lean toward working with someone who uses their name, rather than a "company" name. I think this builds trust from the outset and I'm guessing most referrals will come via your name, as opposed to a company name.
I agree with another commenter that this could pose rebranding challenges if you decide to grow past yourself and establish a group of therapists under a company or collective name. One example of someone who's been able to pull this off is Jerry Colonna, who is a pretty well known therapist in the co-founder/startup world. Jerry used to work by himself and somewhat recently started a company called Reboot.io, which is a group of coaches and therapists. You can search for Jerry to find his individual site, then for reboot.io, to see how he's pulled it off.
Good luck and always happy to discuss further on a call!