10 Qualities of Successful Freelancers
In any business, industry, discipline, or skill set, there are good approaches and not-so-good approaches. The best way to find success is to adopt the same traits as the people who have already found it before you.
So, with that in mind, we want to offer you 10 qualities of successful freelancers that you can try to emulate in your own business.
#1 – Purpose
For starters, entrepreneurs who consistently achieve higher levels of success do so because they have a driving purpose behind their business. And, to be clear, your purpose should be more than just “money”. While your purpose might naturally require money, it isn’t generally the driving factor itself.
For example, some people get into freelancing because they want a business that allows them to travel while they earn. Others want to work outside of the traditional 9-to-5 hours so that they have more time for family. Still others just love the prospect of being their own boss.
Your purpose can also stretch beyond your own needs. Many business owners find fulfillment in donating some of their profits or talents to a charitable organization.
#2 – Vision
Entrepreneurs are known for having the initiative to seize opportunities that others only dream of. Still, you do have to dream first. Vision is one of the most important qualities of successful freelancers because it gives you the ability to see beyond your present circumstances.
When you can envision what you want to accomplish in your business tomorrow, you’ll be better equipped to set goals and take action to make it happen.
#3 – Courage
That’s right. Freelancing is an exercise in bravery. Maybe you aren’t facing down fire breathing dragons everyday, but you are definitely taking the road less traveled. You’re giving up a steady, predictable paycheck to create your own success. With some 50% of small businesses failing in the first five years, you can bet that the ones that succeed had the courage to push on when things looked their worst.
#4 – Professionalism
A lot of people on the outside imagine freelancers as layabouts who rise at noon and never get out of their pajamas. Of course, those of us who are actually in the industry know otherwise. But, some freelancers put so much emphasis on the fact that they don’t have a boss or regular hours that they forget to adopt a level of professionalism necessary to succeed.
If you are going to be acquiring and keeping clients, you need to develop communication, timeliness, customer service, and everything else that you would expect from any business that you’d be spending your hard earned money on.
#5 – Discipline
Discipline is the difference between the freelancer who can give 100% every single day and the one who can’t. When you know how to build discipline, you understand the value in forming habits of success.
If you are lacking in self-discipline, on the other hand, you will have trouble performing at your best when things get tough. For example, you may be really good at communicating with clients. But if you haven’t made a habit of staying up with communication, a few bad days could throw you off and ruin your reputation.
#6 – Flexibility
While discipline is important, it’s equally important to remain flexible so that you can adapt to new situations as they present themselves. If your habits are so routine that the slightest variance from them throws you off, you’ll have trouble meeting the ever-changing demands of business.
Sometimes, you’ll need to work longer hours. Sometimes, you’ll need to sleep less. Sometimes, you’ll need to push hard on the weekend to meet a client deadline.
While you can build systems to mitigate situations like these, being ready and willing to adapt is one of the key qualities of successful freelancers that you can’t go without.
#7 – Willingness to Learn
In the world of entrepreneurship, you are never done learning. The moment you think that you’ve mastered your craft, a competitor is going to pass you in the fast lane. That’s why successful freelancers know how to develop new skills. What’s more, they keep their ear to the ground and their sights set on the future so that they can anticipate where their industry is taking them from year to year.
#8 – Reflection
A successful freelancer is a reflective freelancer. That’s because no person, business model, or skill set is ever perfect.
You always have room to grow as an individual. Your business will always have flaws that can be eradicated. Your skills can always be further developed or expanded. But, if you are unable (or unwilling) to take a close look at yourself and your business, you will never know where you need to grow.
A success-minded freelancer regularly reflects on their strengths and weaknesses in order to set goals for the future.
#9 – Innovation
If your business looks the same five years from now as it does today, odds are good that your competition is outpacing you. Successful freelancers have the innovation to try out new things, keep the ones that work, and cut the ones that don’t. For example, consider making a habit of adding new services to your offerings. While they might not all be profitable, some will become staple pieces of your business.
Likewise, experiment with innovating your methods of communication, fulfillment, marketing, and so on. If nothing else, regular innovation will keep you from getting bored and your business from growing stale.
#10 – Responsibility
As a freelancer, every part of your business eventually falls on you. Even if you hire assistants and other staff, the final responsibility for every success or failure is yours.
If you want to succeed in freelancing, you have to be willing to give up on making excuses. And, when something does go wrong, you’ve got to own it and make it right again. This might cost you time, money, or both–but when you are the business owner, there is no one else to pass the buck to.