Skip to main content

At the start of my business journey, I was like most other creative freelancers. I was decent at my craft, but I had no clue about how to run a business. Opportunities came because I could do the work, but I knew if I wanted to grow beyond being a “pants-on-fire freelancer,” I was going to need to figure out the business side of things.

I dug into business book after business book, extracting a little gem here and a little nugget there. That question for self education, combined with consistently documenting my personal business learnings, helped me turn my solo freelancer business into a thriving agency. I learned what a successful business has and I saw plenty of examples of unsuccessful business missing these key things.

Is Your Business a “Real Business” or Are You Still a “Pants-on-Fire Freelancer”?

My book education plus my “real world” MBA helped me organize this list of things that your business needs to have in place to become a “real business.”

  1. Vision of the business you are trying to create
  2. Defined business goals and objectives
  3. Financial plan for sustaining your business
  4. Defined target customer
  5. Understanding of customer’s common problems
  6. Products/services that solve customer problems
  7. Knowledge of industry trends
  8. Positioning strategy against top competitors
  9. Marketing taglines, statements, and messages
  10. A style for your visual brand (logo, colors, etc.)
  11. Marketing materials to gain exposure
  12. Sales strategy to find and sell clients
  13. Process to track opportunities and clients (CRM)
  14. Strategy for pricing your products and service
  15. Proposal templates to use in sales
  16. Contract templates to close deals
  17. Production task lists for each service you offer
  18. Production software to manage projects
  19. Post project review and upsell process
  20. Financial management software and processes
  21. Strategy for tracking and analyzing business data
  22. Strategy for hiring and scaling your business
  23. An exit strategy

Carefully analyze the list. What are you missing? What can you improve? Great success awaits you as you get these things in place.

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.