Wondering how to scale a freelance business? This in-depth guide provides expert strategies and actionable tips to skyrocket your business.
When you’re bogged down with essential tasks, you don’t have extra time to look for new customers or think about business growth. After all, when you’re a business leader, there’s only so much time in the day. That’s why many successful freelancers scale their businesses with project management tools and outsource work to professionals. We’re breaking down proven strategies and tips for how to scale a freelance business below.
Scaling a business: What does it mean and when you should do it? 📊
As a concept, scaling a small business or startup transcends the idea of growth in favor of identifying and implementing strategies to boost profits and minimize costs. While growing businesses is a linear process where more resources, like new employees and technology, lead to more revenue, scaling businesses is about increasing output exponentially without incurring significant cost increases. Essentially, scaling your business means growing smarter instead of harder.
Here are three signs that may mean it’s time to consider scaling up:
Employees can’t handle the workload ⚙️
If you’ve expanded your network to include new hires like other entrepreneurs or small business owners and they’re consistently overwhelmed with the amount of work, it may be time to scale. This could mean streamlining business processes, investing in more efficient tools, or hiring more team members. For example, a freelance graphic designer might seek out more efficient design software to handle an influx of client requests.
Your long-term business goals are unattainable 🥅
Look at the big picture of your business plan, and consider whether long-term success is achievable. Scaling may be the solution if your current operations can’t reach your objectives. For example, a freelance writer may aspire to publish a certain number of articles per month, but the workload is too heavy. Scaling could involve using automation tools to increase productivity and reach that target.
You’re turning down opportunities 🚪
When you start declining new projects or clients because your business model doesn’t have the capacity to handle them, that’s a clear sign to scale. For instance, a freelance web developer might start refusing new projects because they’re too busy maintaining existing client websites. Scaling, in this case, might mean hiring an assistant.
What to consider when scaling up 🤔
Several factors must be considered when contemplating the scalability of a freelance business. It’s not just about getting bigger; it’s about maximizing efficiency and optimizing your operations to handle an increased workload profitably.
Here are a few key elements to consider:
Company goals 💥
Before you begin scaling, establish clear, measurable goals. These guide your scaling strategy and provide a benchmark for measuring progress. If you aim to double your customers within a specific time frame, align your scaling strategies to facilitate that, but avoid rapid growth. Set short- and long-term goals; over-focusing on the former may lead to scaling too quickly while considering the latter boosts the likelihood of sustainable growth.
Team members 👪
Scaling often involves expanding your team. However, it’s important to strike the right balance between the number of team members and the workload — sometimes, less (aka fewer people) is more. More team members can handle a larger workload but come with additional costs and management requirements. Prioritize quality, hire experienced managers, and seek out specialized skills.
Internal processes 🔨
Efficiency is the cornerstone of successful scaling. Your daily internal processes and workflows must be streamlined to be as effective as possible, which may mean automating repetitive tasks, improving communication systems, or investing in tools that increase productivity. For example, a freelance copywriter may employ project management tools to track assignments or AI writing tools to increase speed.
5 proven strategies to scale your freelance business 🚀
Scaling a freelance business doesn’t happen overnight. It requires careful planning, strategic decision-making, consistent reassessment, goal setting, and adaptation. What worked when you were smaller may not work as you grow within your niche, necessitating the ability to pivot on a dime.
To scale your businesses effectively, try these strategies:
Look at the long-term 🧭
Visualize where you want your business to be. Then, think about the steps you need to take to get there. For a freelance graphic designer, this could mean expanding from individual projects to complete packages for building brands.
Hire strategically 🪄
As a freelancer, you wear many hats. Your daily tasks may include booking meetings, crafting proposals, scouting opportunities, managing social media, responding to emails, and more. It’s a lot, so why not delegate some of the work?
Review your tasks and consider which ones you dread, which can be automated or completed by a project manager, and which are essential for you to handle personally. This exercise helps you streamline your workflow and embrace new partnerships, enabling you to focus on what truly matters.
Automate your business ✅
Automating your freelance business is crucial for scaling, as it saves time, enhances efficiency, and increases revenue. Two primary ways to scale and automate your business are through outsourcing to people and utilizing tools. Tasks like booking meetings, writing proposals, managing payments, and monitoring social media can be automated, allowing you to focus on your core competencies.
Contra can help — our commission-free platform is your one-stop shop for finding clients, sending invoices, receiving payments, and more.
Check your prices 💸
Scaling isn’t always about automating; it may involve reducing your workload, too. If you’re consistently overworked, it’s time to reevaluate and increase your pricing. Freelancers often hesitate to raise rates for fear of losing clients, but many clients understand and even anticipate rate increases over time. Review your cash flow regularly, consider when you last increased your prices, and compare them to current industry standards.
Invest in the right tools and technology 💻
The right tools make all the difference. From project management tools to industry-specific software, researching and investing in technology is an excellent way to increase efficiency.
Follow these tips to ensure success 🤩
In the quest for success while scaling your freelance business, a series of fundamental principles can serve as your compass. When implemented effectively, each of these tips can significantly impact your journey.
Trust your team 👔
As an Independent, you may be accustomed to handling all tasks yourself, but sharing responsibilities is crucial for scaling (and for company culture). Trust your team and learn to delegate; this not only lightens your load but also fosters an environment of collaboration and mutual respect.
Work on your networking skills 🤝
Partner with other skilled freelancers to provide comprehensive solutions to clients. For example, a freelance writer might collaborate with a graphic designer for enriched blog posts (such as this one), or a web designer might team up with an email marketing specialist to optimize a client’s website. To network with potential investors or clients, prepare a pitch deck.
If your schedule is packed with clients, consider subcontracting. This involves hiring other freelancers to assist with regular tasks, a common and effective scaling strategy.
Be open to change 🌐
The business landscape is constantly evolving; to stay ahead, embracing innovation is a must. Keep an eye on industry trends and new markets, and be willing to adapt your strategies and processes when necessary to take your company to the next level.
Scale your freelance business with Contra’s help ⚡
Scaling a freelance business involves more than increasing your workload. It requires a strategic approach encompassing delegation, automation, collaboration, and continuous adaptation. As you embark on this journey, remember that you’re not alone. Platforms like Contra are designed to support Independents like you with tools to automate and manage your freelance business efficiently and commission-free.