For Self-Employed Newbies: Common Business Blunders and Why You Should Avoid Them

When you were young, you believed everything you were told. It’s natural. We were all naive when we were kids. But, we’re not kids anymore. We’re adults. And, if you want your freelance business to thrive, you need to avoid these common business blunders.


Selling To The Wrong People

While sales are crucial to the survival of any business, you also don’t need to be pushing your business onto everyone. And, your market isn’t “anyone who fogs a mirror.” It’s a waste of time to sell to people who just don’t need or want what you’re selling. Selling to the wrong people means selling to everyone and no one in particular.

Some customers are a lot easier to sell to than others. For example, if you run a web consulting business, and a potential customer is flat-broke, then they will want a website but won’t know why. They may be obsessive about costs and constantly bugging you to make tweaks for free. These won’t be good customers. You should say “no” to them, and move on. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.

Here’s another example: If you’re a company like Pajcic & Pajcic out of Jacksonville, does it makes much sense to pick up clients in New York? Not really. If you’re a local firm or business, you need to take into account that your customers are local. So, when you get online and start advertising, don’t cast your marketing message into geographical areas you know you can’t serve.

Just because someone is interested in doing business with you doesn’t mean you should take their money either. This is another mistake freelancers make. At least 50% of the people who approach you with money are probably not a good fit for your services. You can waste a lot of time pursuing deals that are a “stretch.”

By trimming and pruning relationships, you end up with the best customers. You avoid wasting a lot of time, and you’ll be better off (financially and spiritually) for it.

Spending Too Much Money

Until you have positive cash flow, don’t spend money on things that don’t bring in revenue. It’s easy to get caught up in buying business cards, website services, and other things that you may not need right away. Sure, you need marketing materials, and you do need to look serious, but there’s a fine line between spending lavishly to look like you’re in business and actually being in business.

Most consulting businesses, for example, can be started with little or no money. And, you can direct traffic to a website very easily using Google Adwords or other ad networks. Get the traffic flowing and then worry about buying all the stuff that makes you look “legit.”

By that time, you will be legit, and it won’t matter.

Spending Too little Money

You spend too much money, which can also be a bad thing. Don’t let frugality rule in your quest to not spend too much money. Take advantage of skilled contractors who do certain tasks better than you. Buy decent equipment when you need it, and spend money on marketing. Do not be afraid to spend money on good marketing and sales tools. This is how you’ll make money.

Toby Finch works as a small business consultant and all too often comes across some common blunders of new start-ups and newly self-employed. He writes on business topics when time permits, sharing his knowledge in an effort to help those around him.