September 17, 2015
Where did the time go? Seems like just yesterday we were popping bubbly and making resolutions – and yet, the new year is right around the corner. Whether this year was your best year ever or one you’d like to forget, it’s never too early to start thinking ahead. Think of it as an early resolution, if you will.
- Branch Out. Even if you’re new to independent work, it’s very easy to slip into a groove – and complacency is never a good thing. Leave yourself bandwidth to reach outside your comfort zone. Leverage your network, word-of-mouth, and your own satisfied clients to put you in touch with new ones. Explore new verticals. Or simply give yourself a goal of leads or new clients before year’s end, even if you’re at or above the average independent’s four+ clients.
- Revamp That Resume. As an independent, it’s often challenging to list your accomplishments with a traditional resume format – all those clients and separate projects just don’t fit the mold. Consider instead an “accomplishment-based resume,” one that highlights experience instead of tenure and job title. If you haven’t already, put your background online in a cohesive professional website and make sure your LinkedIn is current, giving yourself a digital “leg up” on the competition.
- Get Organized. When you’re on your own, you’re focused on the work, not your accounting or filing system. So it doesn’t take long for things to get a bit…untidy. Tell the truth. From where you’re sitting right now you can probably touch at least five different piles of paper. (We don’t judge.) Getting started today with a good organizational system, whether it’s new furniture, time management, file folders, or even a scanner (for receipts) or shredder can go a long way to increasing 2016’s productivity. And don’t forget -- many of these items are tax deductible!
- Get Up To Speed. From magazine subscriptions to industry blogs, stay in touch with your area of expertise. In-person and online webinars (check out MBO’s own series!) and meet ups can also help – being an independent doesn’t mean going it alone. Set a day and time to check in on trends and news each week – or even better, set up an alert or feed reader to collect news and trends for you and deliver it right to your inbox. Not only will you be in the know, you’ll never run out of small talk for those networking events.
- Ask For Feedback. We all know you’re your biggest fan, and harshest critic. However, a little external input can help as well. Before you rush headlong into 2016, ask your 2015 clients how you’re doing, what they like, and where you can improve. It’s that kind of course correction that can ultimately get next year started on the right foot.
- Have a Plan. Much like your goal to lose weight, your plan is only as good as its implementation. Do you want to gain new clients or grow the ones you have? Hit a certain income goal? By when? Is this the year you invest in a new laptop? Plan out the “how” as well as the goal. And don’t forget to carve out time for vacations too. This doesn’t mean you’ll get it all done – because life happens – but at least you’ll know what you’re aiming for.
Getting ready now means more time for getting it done later. And we can all use more time for that. MBO has some great resources and tools for you to check out if you want to learn more.
News and notes for independent professionals and their clients. This is the May 22, 2017 edition.
Ten self-employed tax deductions you may be entitled to as an independent consultant.