You’re sunning yourself on some exotic beach, sipping a cold, refreshing drink.
Life is good.
And then ... a sudden jolt of reality: You’re a solopreneur. Which means that you’re not earning an income as you enjoy the sound of crashing waves. It’s an “unpaid vacation,” if you will.
Three lounge chairs to your right is Sandra. She owns an electrical-products distribution business in Dallas. She’s also sipping a cold drink.
But Sandra can relax, because she knows that her business is quietly generating profits as she works on her tan.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not envious of Sandra. When she gets back to the office on Monday, she'll have to deal with all kinds of nonsense. Employee problems, supplier issues, inventory hassles, an out-of-control accounts receivable balance — plus all sorts of other headaches you and I don’t have to worry about as solo professionals.
Yet Sandra has something many of us would love to have. She's created real "business leverage."
By business leverage I'm talking about the ability to leverage physical assets (inventory, equipment, etc.), as well as other people (her employees) and bank financing to generate profits month after month ... even when she's not physically there.
In other words, she's not trading time for money. At least not in direct proportion. She puts in a long workweek. But the "machine" she's created generates $75,000 in profits every month. That's something a freelancer can't possibly do on their own, even if he or she worked 100 hours a week.
When I launched my freelance business a few years ago, I wanted both — the freedom and flexibility of a solo business AND the profit-building leverage of a traditional business. I wasn’t willing to settle for one or the other.
So I worked on making that a reality. And since then, I’ve discovered several ways of having what Sandra has … without the hassles she constantly faces.
Here are five ideas from my own experience and from other successful solo professionals.
#1: Offer a More Complete Solution
This is by far the most popular method, and it’s one that many freelancers use successfully. It basically involves bringing in a complementary freelancer for a project.
For example, you’re a writer and your client needs design work for the piece you’ve written. So you bring your designer-buddy David into the deal. You write the copy, manage the project (though in some cases David may handle project management), mark up David’s work and add some profit to cover the project management time. You bill the client directly and pay David his cut.
This is a great way to add leverage to your business while boosting your income. But the real key to making it ultra-profitable (and enjoyable) is to limit this type of arrangement to clients and projects where you know the hassle factor will be low. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating a nightmare that doesn’t justify the extra profit.
#2: Offer “Offbeat” Complementary Services
This one is one of my favorite ways to create leverage. I’m surprised more freelancers don’t try to craft similar opportunities.
Basically, it involves bringing in a resource (often a nontraditional freelancer) to help your client get the job done faster and without hassle.
Here’s an example: I write most of the lead generation and marketing communications pieces for one of my clients. This company doesn’t have the resources to follow up on all the leads it generates as a result of these campaigns. So I offered to bring in a freelance telephone salesperson to follow up with these potential customers.
This keeps everyone happy: The client avoids having to hire a full-time inside salesperson (which it doesn’t need and can’t afford). I make a profit from the freelancer’s work (I have an annual contract with both my client and this freelancer). And the freelancer gets steady work doing something she loves.
I’ve done this several times with other types of “offbeat” resources. It requires you to be creative, open-minded and resourceful. But it can be VERY profitable. And in cases where you can get a quarterly or annual contract, it adds a predictable stream of income to your business.
#3: Sell Information to Clients
Not all prospects who contact you will be able to afford your services. Sometimes they may be willing to do the work themselves in order to save cash. Trouble is, they may not know how to do the job.
Why not create a series of manuals or e-books that walk clients step-by-step through the execution of a variety of projects? Yes, in a way you’d be giving away part of your “secret sauce.” But not really. You’re doing it for a price, and it can be a very handsome price. For instance, you could sell a manual for $200, $250 or even $500, depending on the nature of what you do.
Plus, look at it this way: You’d be capturing revenue that’s going elsewhere right now because the prospect can’t afford the level of service you offer.
#4: Train Your Clients
Rather than buying a “how to” manual, some clients (particularly corporate clients) would rather pay you to come in and teach them your skills and methods. Putting together a training class can involve a lot of work (which may seem to contradict the title of this article). But it can be so profitable to train clients on skills for which they’re willing to pay good money that it’s worth considering.
My colleague Mike Stelzner, a recognized authority in writing and marketing white papers, teaches a class to some of his corporate clients for which he charges $4,000. The class is only four hours long (do the math!). And get this: Over the years, he’s taught the class more than 12 times for one particular client.
#5: Sell Information to Consumers
Do you have a hobby, passion or skill outside of your profession that others would pay to learn more about? Say, a specific type of yoga, simple techniques for drastically improving your golf game or clever methods for getting the best deal on a used car.
If so, why not turn that specialized knowledge into an e-book, audio recording or other information product? It’s another nice way to turn what you love into a business. I earn a nice side income every month from a few information products I’ve created.
Four More Great Ideas
It includes four more great ideas. Plus, you'll get much more detail on each one of these strategies. You'll also get a workbook, plus the PDF and audio versions of the course!
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I Have a Favor to Ask
If you enjoy this course, could you do me a two-part favor?
- Would you let friends and colleagues know about it? You can direct them to www.InternationalFreelancersAcademy.com, where they can request their own FREE copy. Or simply share this article with them by using the sharing buttons below. They'll thank you ... and so will I!
- I would love to know how YOU are creating leverage in your own solo business. What's worked for you? And if you haven't done this yet but are planning on doing so in 2013, what are you going to try first?
Please let me know in the comments area below.