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As a relative newbie to flying solo my biggest lessons have been:
*Network — old employers and colleagues, friends, and family — you never know who needs your products and services.
*Promote your business at every opportunity/perfect your elevator pitch — you are your biggest sales tool (no pun intended). A simple conversation about you and your business with the owner of your local cafe, an acquaintance at a party, or a mother at school can result in some incredibly valuable leads.
*Be confident — it’s only natural to have an element of self-doubt when starting a business. However, it’s incredibly important to the success of your business that you are confident in your abilities.
*Develop a portfolio for free — if you are a newbie and you don’t have a huge portfolio of work to show potential clients then a great way of developing one is to offer your services to handpicked companies or high-profile charities for free (or for a significantly reduced price). The more well-known the company/charity is the better it will look in your portfolio.
*Don’t undercharge — this is one of the toughest things to do (I’m still struggling with it)! In the beginning it’s tempting to undercharge in the hope of getting more business. While this can be useful in the very initial stages (see previous point) it can actually be hugely damaging in the long term. Setting your prices too low will undermine your credibility, and setting your prices too high can deter potential clients. To help you set your prices a) look at your overheads and work out how much profit you need to make on each job; b) do some market research to find out what your competitors are charging; c) aim to price yourself on, or just above the market average. Also, check out the Flying Solo article base for some great tips on how to do this.
*Always remember why you chose to fly solo — down the track it’s easy to lose sight of why you started your business in the first place. Did you start to have better control of your time?Or spend more time with your family? Whatever the reason, always bring it back into focus to ensure that you are staying true to yourself.