In many ways the difference between running a small business and being a freelancer is that the pressures are greater. Everything comes down to you ultimately, it’s just that everything amounts to far more things!
For freelancers, as for CEOs of small businesses, confidence and assertiveness are key. After all if you don’t have confidence in your own abilities, and demonstrate it, why should a prospective client or potential new hire have any confidence in you.
Confidence can be learnt
Some people are naturally more confident than others, but confidence can be learnt and developed. If you’re not naturally confidence this doesn’t have to put you at a disadvantage with a little disciplined practice. Start by reading assertiveness and confidence tips on line and then being sure to practice them and review how they went. If you feel that you’re making slow progress you might want to think about training.
Be confident in your abilities
Examples can go a long way towards showing a client what your business can do. However, as no two projects are exactly the same, if you don’t have the confidence to go with it, they may doubt your ability to get the job done. You can project confidence by playing to your strengths. Discuss the items where you have exceptional capabilities and have differentiated yourself from competitors. Don’t mention areas where you may be less strong. Your confidence and passion will naturally come through when you speak about these areas.
Even if you don’t feel outwardly confident, you must have it inside you somewhere, or you would never have gone into the business of setting up your business in the first place. To remind yourself that you are very good at what you do keep a file with a copy of positive feedback you have received in the past. Reading this before going into a meeting with a client will remind you of your past successes and should improve your confidence and give you the boost you need.
Don’t be shy about money
Many people feel uncomfortable asking for money but sales always comes to price at some piont. This is something you have hopefully got used to but some people struggle with this for years. You will also need to make yourself comfortable with charging a fair rate. Your rate price needs to include enough to cover a fair portion of all of your overheads.
When starting out, don’t be tempted to offer your services for less than the going rate, as you are likely to see clients either ignore you, assuming you have either misunderstood what is required or will do a poor job, or take you on, and be particularly demanding about how much they want for their money.
When it comes to setting your price, written quotes are best for both parties. It gives you the time to go away and think about what you need to charge, while the client has something on paper confirming costs. It is also a good way of boosting your confidence if you feel awkward about the subject, as it is much less daunting than discussing prices face to face.
Confidence brings you easier clients
If you are confident and assertive right from your first interaction with clients, you will have a much easier time dealing with them. They will see that you are not a pushover, so are unlikely to try their luck with you. Those awkward clients who are always asking for one more thing are likely to take their business elsewhere. Losing business may not sound like a good thing, but in this case, working with such clients is often more hassle than its worth. Even if they appear to prepared to pay well, their numerous queries and changes will quickly eat up your margin.
A tried and tested way of boosting your assertiveness is to practice. Get a friend or relative to pose as a client, and ask them to challenge you. Record your conversation so that you can play it back later and see what you did well, and where you need to improve.
Being confident doesn’t mean being a bully
From time to time, you and your clients will have differences of opinion. In these circumstances, the best thing you can do is be assertive, and explain why you think your way is better / fairer. Don’t assume that you are about to have a disagreement. They are using your firm for your expertise in the field, and it might simply be that they hadn’t realised all of the options that are available to them, or understood why something won’t work.
However, if you still don’t agree, if you run a service business it is important to remember that they are paying. Providing they are happy to pay for it, you should be prepared to do as they ask once you have given them appropriate warnings.
Finally remember everyone has to start somewhere. Even the most confident person would have struggled far more 20 years ago. With age comes wisdom and experience, along with confidence. Don’t give yourself too much of a hard time if this doesn’t come easily, after all that won’t help at all!