One of the biggest complaints that clients have when working with freelancers is that they do not deliver work on time. If you want to be a successful freelancer you need to be organized enough to never miss a deadline. Keeping on top of all your projects can seem like an overwhelming task if you have many clients, plus you need to devote time to promoting your business in order to find more clients. However, there is no need to panic - with a few simple routines built into your life, you can easily stay on top of all the projects, invoices, correspondence and promotions that you need to take care of to keep your business running smoothly and deliver your projects on time. In our last post we looked at what you can do on a yearly basis to ensure that your business is running smoothly and your are acheiving your goals. In the second part of this SageGroupy series on building routines, we offer a simple monthly routine to help you keep your business on track and thriving.
At the beginning of the month: See what lies ahead, take care of any left over business
- is there any outstanding business from last month?
- what projects are due this month?
- do I need any time off this month for events/appointments? How will I make up for the lost time?
- what tasks do I need do each week?
- when do invoices need to be sent
- do I need solve any problems in order to make this month smoother than last month?
- how much time should I spend promoting my business this month - do I need more clients?
Organize your calendar for the month:
- schedule your appointments
- schedule when you will make up for lost time if necessary (this can help you to remember to do some extra work on a weekend or over a couple of evenings if necessary)
- set reminders for deadlines, invoices, and when to expect payments
Check your Budget:
- be sure there are no outstanding invoices from last month. If there are check if you need to follow up with a client? Or decide if you need to drop a client?
- review last months budget and be sure to incoporate solutions to any problems in this month's budget
- figure out how much money do you need to make this month
- calculate how much money you expect to make. If this doesn't match how much money you need to make find a solution. Do you need to find another client? If so, how much time do you have to devote to finding new clients?
- be sure to schedule self-promotion/networking time to find clients if necessary
Mid-Month: Time to check your progress
- is everything going according to schedule?
- do I need to reschedule anything?
- am I running behind schedule on any projects - can I catch up?
- did I meet all my deadlines so far this month
- has anything unexpected happened that I need to adjust my schedule around?
- did a task take a longer/shorter time than expected?
- am I ahead of schedule anywhere - if so, how can I spend my extra time wisely?
- am I keeping up with correspondence? Are any clients expecting to hear from me and haven’t? Do I need to contact any clients about anything? Am I waiting to hear back from a client?
Review the Calendar:
- make sure to add any new events in
- make changes to your schedule if a job is taking a longer time than expected
- check for upcoming days off and be sure that you are budgeting your work time around them
- decide which extra events you can drop if you’re running behind
Look at your Incoming and Outgoing Expenses:
- make sure that invoices being sent out on time
- check if payments are coming in on time
- see if you need to buy anything for your business
- are you making enough money to cover everything? If not, decide what expenses to cut or where you can find extra income.
- have you made more money than you thought you would? If so, save it until the end of the month, then decide what to do with it
At the End of the Month: Time to see where you landed
- did I hit all the deadlines?
- have my clients given me any feedback that I can use? Did I receive any negative feedback that I need to resolve? Did I get any positive feedback that I can promote?
- did I send all the invoices for my work?
- did I gain any new clients?
- is there any outstanding correspondence that needs to be addressed - for example: Did I forget to send out any emails? Am I waiting to hear from a client?
- did I have any communication problems this month? Is there a client that isn’t communicating in a timely manner making it difficult for me to complete their project? Am I on the same page as other the freelancers working on a big project together? Am I missing any information? Are clients expecting to hear from me about anything?
- do I have any problem clients that I need to consider dropping
- did I lose a client, how will I make up for that lose?
- did the time I spent on promoting my business lead to any new clients? Do I need to spend more time promoting my business, or less?
Look back at the Calendar:
- be sure that you completed all your work on time
- check to see that any ongoing projects are still on schedule
- see where any time might have been lost and why - was it a communication problem or a time management problem? Figure out how to fix it before next month.
- find any discrepancies in the time that you planned to spend on a task and the time it actually took so that you can adjust your time-budget accordingly next month
Assess your Finances:
- make sure that you collected all payments due and that there are no outstanding invoices
- double check that all invoices were sent for this month’s work
- check that your budget expectations set at the beginning of the month were met - if not, where were your estimates off?
- review outgoing expenses - personal and business to see if there’s any areas where you went over budget so you can fix that next month
- decide of there is anything you need to change for next month - do you need to decrease spending or increase clients
- decide what to do with any extra money you made
- check that your savings account is healthy: Have you dipped into your safety-net recently to deal with unexpected problems, does it need to be replenished? Is your retirement fund on track?
- do a quick tax assessment to make sure that you have saved enough of your income this month to cover income taxes
Making a schedule is the first step in meeting deadlines and keeping clients happy, being aware of your schedule is important in order to keep on top of ongoing projects, as well as make sure your business is doing well and that you are financially stable. If you review your calendar and finances on a regular basis you can see where any little problems might be occurring and fix them before they become big problems. Check out our next post here on SageGroupy to see what you can be doing on a weekly basis to keep your business running smoothly.