The venue of our Spring Retreat was the oak-panelled Fleming Room at the Sue Ryder Hospice in Nettlebed, nr Henley on Thames. The hospice was being used as a film set and as we arrived the actors were practising a scene in the large reception hall. By popular demand, this Retreat was a repeat of that held in September last year, providing a 'day out of the office' for fellow freelancers to explore the challenges they face as solo business owners.
The day began with a review of the issues we encounter as freelance professionals in relation to client management. The main concerns were coping with changes in project scope and timelines and juggling different client demands so we can provide a high quality service without burn out. Establishing clear boundaries is key so clients understand what can be delivered by when and the impact of changing scope and timelines. Having a disciplined approach to answering the phone and responding to emails also creates boundaries and saves valuable time. Allowing phone calls to go to voicemail means you can respond to the call when you are fully focused on the caller and you are not interrupting client work to take the call. Try reading and responding to emails at set times throughout the day, and turn your 'new message' notification off when you are working on client projects or on your business management activities to minimise distractions.
|Deep in discussion|
I am often asked about marketing your business at these Retreats, and last week was no exception. The key to successful marketing is knowing who your ideal client is because then your marketing activities will naturally reach out to the right people. So ask yourself what type of work do you love to do and who do you enjoy working with? This will become clearer the more experience you have as a freelancer. You can establish who your ideal client is by understanding your own values and beliefs and what service you want your business to deliver to serve your clients effectively. Keep in touch with your clients too - send them information that may be useful to them, for example, notification of new or revised guidelines that are relevant to the work they do or send them a newsletter. This keeps the lines of communication open and helps build a good working relationship.
A big thank you to everyone who supported the Spring Retreat - colleagues travelled from as far away as Cornwall and Wales to join us, which is much appreciated. Thank you to Pru at Sue Ryder, and the staff at The White Hart pub in Nettlebed where we all had a well-deserved lunch afterwards. And finally, but absolutely by no means least, a big hug and thank you to my coach and friend Elaine Bailey, who generously donated business reference books for everyone and a 30-minutes coaching call to one of the Retreat's attendees in a prize draw- well done Steffan! The next Retreat is planned for September 2014.
|We even found a 'tombola spinner' for the prize draw!|