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Ep.10: How To Find Your First Client (The Solopreneur Blueprint)

This morning, you’re going to learn how to start a home-based service business, and how you can find that first client.

Our inspirational quote for the day is by Albert Einstein, and it is, “creativity is intelligence having fun.” As a freelancer, you get to learn how to be creative regardless of how artistic your craft is. The very nature of freelancing is creative. You’re constantly having fun with your intelligence by forming it into different service products, creating a business that solves a problem.

You’re innovating, figuring things out, and being creative. Diving deeper into this concept, we’re going to cover some foundational principles that will bring any freelancer or solopreneur success. Then, we’ll go over some tangible first steps you’ll need to take to get started.

On this show, we talk about freelancing and self-employment because those are things that I’m super passionate about. I envision that in the future, there will not only be more contractors and freelancers working for businesses, but that self-employment will be seen as the way to true freedom in your career.

Therefore, I’m building my company as a team of only freelancers. They’re all contractors and self-employed workers. I partner with businesses so that we can all help each other’s businesses grow.

Another thing I talk about here is my belief that the home is the center of everything. My family is very important to me. Everything I do is for them. As a result, I’m a big believer in having work/life balance. Working around 20 hours per week is ideal for me.

I focus on my business for 20 hours of the week, and the rest of the week is centered on myself and my family. This is when I work for my children and I address personal endeavors. And the truth is that those things are a lot of work. Raising a family well takes a lot of time and focus, and no career ambition or pursuit is worth sacrificing my family’s needs.

My first passion is my family, my home, and my home life. I’m not the kind of freelancer who’s a digital nomad who travels all over the place, working remotely, focusing on earning as much money as possible. Instead, I’m a homebody, self-employed father, and husband.

If you’re in that same boat where you are raising a family, but you’re also wanting to build a freelance business to create enough income to be self-employed, I hope that what I’ve learned over the last few years will help you make it work.

Balancing all those roles, being a dad, husband, and business owner creates a unique pressure. If you’re single with less obligations, freelancing is a bit different. I’m really speaking to those who, like me, are trying to balance the family life with their career building. However, if you don’t have those obligations and the same demographics as me, I still think this information is applicable to you. Creating a work/life balance is important no matter what your family life looks like.

Learning how to find success without sacrificing those personal life ambitions is important for everyone. I hope that’s what you can learn how to do here. I’m not the typical entrepreneur who’s going to give you tips for working 60 hours per week, nor will I tell you to sacrifice time with your family to build your business.

Many entrepreneurs would tell me that I’m not working hard enough because I never sacrificed that time with my family just to grow my business. I believe that if you put what’s important first, then you’ll grow faster and reach your goals sooner.

The stress you put on yourself by working 40+ hours a week shows up whether you realize it or not. Instead of burning out, you’ll find success faster by working 25 hours a week while meeting your personal needs.

Even when things were harder financially, I never worked more than 30 hours in a week. I knew that if I worked more than 30 hours, I wasn’t going to make more money quicker because I wasn’t addressing those underlying, important aspects of my life like my family.

Today, we’re going to talk about the solopreneuer’s blueprint. I’m going to share this resource with you, so make sure to go over the show notes and you can download the full thing. Here, we’ll cover just the steps of it.

First off, step one is to establish a vision. You need to know what you’re going to be focusing on in your freelance business, but you also need to know what your vision for life is overall. How do you imagine yourself living, and what are your priorities?

You need to map these things out, and then figure out the logistical side of who your ideal client is. This is your first step. And part of this first step involves identifying your key skills. Which ones can you convert into services?

This tangible side of it is what will motivate you and bring enthusiasm for your future.

Step two is to identify where you’re at. Ask yourself if you’re currently in a job that you don’t like. Or, if you don’t have a job, does that bother you? Map out where you’re at financially, what kind of work/life balance you have, and what phase of freelance business building you’re in.

Also, write down what you’re grateful for. If you can’t be grateful where you’re at, you won’t be able to get where you want to be. That’s something I had to learn. I held myself back a lot by being fixated on what I wanted while totally ignoring what I already had.

Until I started pumping gratitude into my life daily, this really bothered me. So now, on the front of my computer, I have the word “gratitude” printed out as a reminder. I also have the word “patience” there as well because it’s necessary to have patience throughout the business creation process.

Step three is to master your internal communication. By that, I mean you must combat those negative voices in your head that say things like, “it’s too hard to freelance,” or, “you’ll never succeed in this.” That voice can be quite the chatterbox, talking you out of doing things and committing to things that other people aren’t committing to.

We are pushing against that voice’s phrase, “just go back to bed,” which tells us to just stay in our safe zone and never try. Right now, I’m just covering these steps, but later, we’ll talk more in depth about this internal communication. But ultimately, you must have a say in your life and in what you want from your career. That means finding your own voice amongst all the many voices in your head.

You need to make sure you have a strong, positive voice in your head so that you can make confident decisions. Clean up that head trash!

Step four is mastering your EXTERNAL conversations. This is about the voice that comes out of your mouth. If you’re not finding clients or getting referrals, and ultimately, you’re not making progress, it will have something to do with your external communication skills.

You must master networking conversations, sales conversations, and much more. You must know how to connect with the right people in the right way whether it’s online or in person. We’ll get into this later, but overall, you must build up your reputation to get referrals and really get your client list going.

In my own life, not having communication skills really held me back when I got started. It delayed my stability in my solopreneur career. Learning sales is essential if you want to succeed.

Now, let’s look at step five. This step is to master your time. This starts by altering your perspective of time. You need to start valuing your time a lot more. You’re not just getting paid for your time, you’re getting paid for the value you’re providing, which we talked about in the previous episode.

Time is scarce and prioritizing it is necessary if you want a work/life balance. If you don’t want to be working 50 hours a week, it’s important that you have good focus management skills. You’re only working on the most important activities during those 20 hours, and you’re not letting yourself be distracted.

Mastering your time has to do with setting your schedule properly and increasing your focus skills. For example, you really do become a master at controlling interruptions. This is important when you work from home and you have young kids.

When you become a time master, it’s easier for you to build trust with your clients because they know you’re good with your time. And THAT is part of your value. That’s why you’ll be able to charge more. You’re delivering high-quality services in a timely manner.

In the show, we talk a lot about getting your priorities in order, but also just prioritizing your actual tasks for your business, too.

Step six is to discover your worth. Maybe you’re unsure what to charge people and you’re uncomfortable selling your talents and your services. That’s because you don’t fully see your worth. It’s also because you don’t say “no” to clients who don’t fit your criteria.

You need to be okay with saying no to clients who don’t fit your profile. This can be hard when you’re just starting out, but it’s important that you don’t accept nightmare projects.

Another part of step six involves you adjusting your relationship with money. When it comes to discovering your worth, you also need to understand what money REALLY is. Money can teach us some powerful lessons.

If you have a negative relationship with money, you’re going to struggle to find clients and sell your services. You’ll struggle to ask for enough money, too. We’ll dive deeper into this later, but it’s important to see your worth and to not get hung up on feeling bad for others. There’s enough money out there for everyone.

I’m sure you already know this, but your worth as a human being is infinite. There’s no dollar value on it. There may be a dollar amount based on a service you’re providing, but don’t confuse the price tag on your service with your worth as a person.

This creates a lot of negative self-perception fed by your income, rather than realizing that your skillset just needs some enhancement. When you master these six steps, you will be able to confidently sell yourself. This is how you attract your ideal clients and build your business.

Now that we’ve gone over the six steps, we’re going to address some tangible first steps you should make when looking for those first few clients.

First, make sure you have a skill that people want to pay for. Coming back to the law of supply and demand which we talked about in an earlier episode, you must make sure that you have a service worth paying for. Brainstorm and ask yourself what skills you currently have, and what skills you could develop to further your services.

I have a blog called 150 freelance jobs you could do as a freelancer, and almost anything you can imagine is on there. The sky’s the limit. Check it out if you’re in need of ideas.

Number two is that you need to put together a portfolio of your work so far. It can even be filled with stuff you’ve done in school or even for fun. You just need something that will prove your skills because you likely won’t have testimonials at this point.

If you’re an artist or a writer etc., it’s easier to piece together samples in your portfolio, but when it comes to services such as strategic consulting, your portfolio then consists of results. For example, I include several graphs that show the results of my growth for clients. That’s also an option if your service is not directly visual.

Number three is that you need to learn sales. I touched on this earlier, but it’s very important. The reality of being self-employed is that you must do your own sales. If you have a negative perspective on salespeople, change it.

Number four is getting on freelancer platforms such as Upwork. This is where clients post jobs, and you submit proposals. You can get jobs from all over the world this way. Additionally, check out LinkedIn and any other place that makes you visible online. It’s important that people can find your resume and portfolio easily online.

You can also try to attend networking events locally, sure, but I don’t prefer that method. Even before the pandemic, I was never. Fan of having to drive to networking events. There’s something about it being called a “networking event” that is ineffective. Sometimes businesses can form good relationships through these events, but overall, there’s a weird kind of artificialness to it.

People show up with lots of business cards, you go home with a bunch of business cards, and you don’t do anything with them. It’s not a very targeted way to find your ideal client. On the other hand, online networking can be much more targeted. You choose who you start a conversation with.

There are also apps like Shapr that allow you to match your profile with other people based on certain interests. You have a much more targeted approach when you use an app like Shapr. There are many ways to network remotely, which I’ll get into more in a later episode. But overall, be sure to make yourself accessible online.

Number five is to get a testimonial from your first client or from anyone you’ve previously done work for. You can even do some shorter-term projects to help you get those testimonials. You can finish a project, build up your portfolio, and get testimonials. This can even be from friends or family members you’ve worked for.

Step six is to create a video where you’re teaching something related to your skillset. For me, I have a video that goes over my strategy for how to build a YouTube channel, and I have a video about my approach to content marketing.

Of course, I have many more videos teaching different tips related to my field of expertise. Those videos have helped me get clients because they watched those videos and they’re like, “oh, he must know what he’s talking about.”

If you’re on a place like Upwork, put your video on your profile and it’ll help you get more clients.

Number seven is our last tip for today, and it is that you should get yourself a website so that people can easily check out your profile all in one place. This creates higher credibility. But don’t get hung up on trying to create the perfect website from the get-go. Your main focus should be on helping you get clients online overall.

It's going to take a lot of practice getting on calls with potential clients constantly. Once you connect with somebody, immediately try to get them on a call where you can explain how you can help them. In a future episode, we’ll learn what to say to those clients and how to conduct those calls.

You just need to learn your target market so that you can adjust your service accordingly.

Those are some things to think about as you get started as a freelancer and solopreneur. These tips will help you find your first client. Again, you probably won’t be able to just listen to this episode and then go find your first client. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to building up a service-based home business as a self-employed person.

There are many layers here, but this is one piece that will help you get going and gain momentum. You’re working more on your business so that eventually, clients are just coming through referrals and in a more automated way. And that’s where I am now.

It’s nice to be in that spot, but it’s an upward battle at first. However, with the right skillset and training, which I hope to provide you, it’s much easier to achieve.

That’s all I have for today. I hope you can take this with you into your day and implement some of these steps so you can find your first or next client soon. If you want to learn more, go to Arrowlight.tv, and subscribe to the podcast and my YouTube channel. I’ll see you during our next early morning conversation.

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