Freelancers starting on their own can suffer from a lack of credibility – clients are naturally wary of new businesses. It’s important to develop this credibility, and therefore trust, as quickly as possible, to ensure a growing client roster and a profitable business. These five tips, outlined by Jamie Lawrence of inspiresme, are easy ways to help put clients’ minds at rest and encourage them to pay for your services.
Appear bigger than you actually are
Giving the impression of size can often help freelancers and smaller businesses build trust – unproven businesses are obviously a risky proposition. There are other advantages to appearing bigger too. Having a separate individual chase clients for payment, even if it’s just a family member, helps insulate your own relationship with the client from the strains of dealing with financial issues. This helps preserve the bond and hopefully help secure further business into the future.
Provide a personal and professional service
The beauty of freelancers is that the relationship with the client can be personal – there’s no bureaucratic system to distance the two parties, like you often see in larger firms. This means that you can offer a personal and professional service at all times, which many clients value. It’s hard in business to find parties that you trust, so a personal relationship with a freelancer that provides value-for-money and high levels of integrity can be worth its weight in gold.
Don’t be afraid to ask for references
Testimonials and references can be a freelancer’s life blood – unproven businesses need to quickly establish credibility if they are to survive. Do not be afraid to ask clients to recommend you, both by telling their friends and colleagues and providing you with quotes that you can use on your website and on promotional materials. Most clients understand the difficulties of winning new businesses and will be happy to help you out, especially if they are pleased with the service you’ve provided.
Run an ethical business
Ethical is quickly becoming the norm – businesses that can’t prove they are built on sustainable values may quickly find themselves with smaller client rosters as people increasingly demand more from their business links. Ethical means different things to different people; a broad definition could include donating a proportion of profits to charity, good quality service at reasonable rates. Don’t just advertise that you are ethical – prove it by building it into everything you do.
Offer financial terms that protect clients
Insecurities about working with unproven businesses are always based on a particular fear – losing money. If you can take steps to help protect your clients’ money, there’s less risk with employing your services and therefore fewer obstacles to overcome before you sign them as a client. Some freelancers allow clients to pay on delivery, or half up-front and half on delivery. Others employ an escrow service
to protect the funds. There are many options – you could even talk to the client directly and see what they prefer.