There is a famous quote that says, "There is strength in numbers." This can be very true when it comes to being a freelancer. As a one-man shop, you are often times limited because of your lack of abilities in certain areas. In this article, we will be discussing the importance of forming professional alliances with others in order for you to grow your freelance business.
Complement Each Other By Having Different Skill-sets
We took a leap a faith several years ago and started a web design and marketing company. Like many others, we worried about the competition. How were we going to go head to head and toe to toe with the larger guys in town? Looking back now, I realize that what truly benefited my partner and I at the time was the fact that our skill sets were so different.
We complimented each others shortcomings. What he lacked in design skills was easily compensated by mine. On the sales and marketing side, he was able to close the loop for me. This alliance gave us strength. We fed off of the experiences of each other. Our collaboration flourished and so did the business.
A Low Overhead
Though we started making money, we still cut corners – staying very frugal. Keeping our overhead down allowed our small initial investment to help the company grow. We bought the cheapest computers, found office space for the lowest price and put aside as much money as we could. Saving where possible, hanging on to our money as long as possible, gave us the opportunity to be more productive.
That little nest egg grew enough to a point where we could finally pay cash for two of the latest iMacs.
To promote the company, we started small and listed ourselves on Google Local. Hitting Craigslist with an ad every week, submitting ourselves in online directories, and spending about $75 every few months on back links were some of the best actions we took to increase our web inquires. Though we had a full Flash website back then, we still ranked very well on the search engines. Finding cheap ways to promote ourselves is always at the top of the “to-do” list. The internet is the true hero for us.
- Business Cards
- Google Local
Speaking of heroes, we discovered that utilizing interns from the local art school, helps us tremendously with the work load. Though unpaid, they learn more than how to use Photoshop, they get to see first hand what it takes to run a small business. Again, the interns all have complimentary skill sets to our own. In essence, the interns helped us to diversify.
The mindset is that if you believe people will respond to you, they will.
Being on the shy side gets you nowhere. By stepping out of my comfort zone to network, I realized that good things can happen. I spent two hours mingling at a "Business Buddies" event a while back, just handing out a few business cards and having some friendly conversation about my company. Though it was months later, the connections I made that evening eventually garnered a new client for our business.
Networking prevents us from getting tunnel vision
Clearly stating that we were looking for professional alliances on a per project basis opened the door to us meeting some very qualified professionals. Once they understood that we wanted an ongoing partnership to help one another acquire new business, it was apparent that we needed to form a business mastermind group to brainstorm and share ideas on how we could all work together. With this common purpose, we developed a new direction for our businesses and a new way to position ourselves in the marketplace. As a result, we’ve built some very effective and profitable relationships in the process.
We open ourselves up to opportunities and trust in each other abilities. By leveraging each others skills, we’ve increased our exposure to new audiences, expanded the services we offer and attracted new prospects. If one of us develops a new widget we can sell to our clients, we all win.
It’s important to have solid alliances with like-minded people who are committed to maximizing each other strengths while offering more to clients. If our clients do not receive the service and support they expect from us, chances are they will look elsewhere to find it and when they do, it will probably be only a matter of time before they move the rest of their business.
Almost every relationship has the potential to help grow one’s business.
Reaching out to other professionals generally helps create a stable and thriving business. By joining forces for mutual benefit, each party has to give something to get something in return. It can be spontaneous or part of a longer, deliberate process.
Now, we rarely worry about the competition. Our energy is focused on something bigger, supportive partnerships. Best of all, by teaming up, we’ve become a single-source solution to our clients.
What do you think about forming professional alliances? Would you rather do all the work by yourself? We’d love to have an interesting discussion about this subject so feel free to contribute to the discussion. Thank you for reading the article. You can follow the Design Informer on Twitter here1.