You probably didn’t get into business because you wanted to go into business. You probably made your way the way most people do: you had bills to pay, some knowledge or skills, and a desire to eat. Your probably didn’t think to use a freelance rate calculator. You snooped around, tried to figure out what competitors were charging, and used “the market” to set your freelancing pricing.
But if you haven’t been thriving financially, then you may need to reexamine this whole business animal. You may need to do and think different.
It’s time to buckle down on some numbers.
A Short Disclaimer on (My) Immaturity
I never enjoyed math. I preferred English. Essay tests left plenty of room for improvisation, whereas math involved lots of rote memory with very few shortcuts. I was always looking for a way to minimize my input (time spent on homework and studying) while maximizing my output (making good grades).
Unfortunately, I couldn’t game math. Math class was a grind: memorize the formula, work the problem, find the answer (or not), make the grade (or not). The only C I ever made in school was in Mrs. Lackey’s Advanced Algebra class because, like a cocky idiot, I simply stopped doing my homework. Fifteen-year-old Austin needed to be smacked upside his head.
Do you need to smack yourself? Pinch yourself? Get down on your knees and beg yourself?
We all need to grow up and keep growing. We’ve got these residual immaturities that hobble our businesses. We can’t sprint ahead because the a juvenile little punk still dictates some of our attitudes and actions.
Or maybe I’m the only one who has carry-over prejudices from grade school: “I don’t like math. So I’m not gonna.” (You’re either very confused right now, or nodding your head.)
Regardless, math is your friend. Math will keep you honest.
Sometimes, you’ve got to be a bonafide Adult, and do the job no matter how you feel about it. Dig into some of the easy calculations below, and you can give your rates an injection of pure adrenaline.
Thriving starts with setting the right goals.
A lot of freelancers and creatives have this blind optimism that does more harm than good. “Next month will be better.” Why? You’re doing all of the same things you were doing. Suddenly money trees are going to sprout in your path? Doubtful.
Don’t get me wrong: many of the best things that have happened to me in business have happened to me. They’re not things that I made happen, like a guy levering a stone out of a hole.
A clear sense of your numbers and sales goals will enable you to go get in the way of opportunity. If you think you only need to sell $5000 worth of work any given month, you’ll start to relax after you’ve sold $6000. But if you set your sights at $12,000, and you’ll accelerate, not slow down, at the $6K mark.
That’s the weird thing about the months when I set sales goals and actively monitor my progress: I tend to meet my sales goals. I make a point to track leads and follow up with prospects. I’m quicker to follow up with people. I turn around quotes and proposals faster. I stay on top of my billing, and I’m less likely to budge on pricing.
In other words, I tend to be a smarter businessman.
And another weird thing happens when I set a sales goal that is larger than my thriving number: I make enough money to thrive. When my sales goal was closer to my survival number, guess what? I barely make enough money to survive.
Thriving starts with setting the right goals. And that’s what this math is all about.
You now know your survival number.
You now know your thrival number.
You now know the operating expenses you need to tack on to that thrival number.
You’re feeling better because that newest number, once you hit it, could be sustainable over the long-term.
But we’re not finished yet.
Do you want to build a profitable business you love?
Duh. Pony up that email address, and you can learn from my failures. You can laugh at my mistakes. You can envy my success at croquet, slow running, and modest bank accounts. Let’s make good money and leave the world better than we found it.
No-nonsense business advice for content writers and freelancers. Served warm with a side of dad jokes.