Jul 12 / Matt Saunders

Never Run Out of Clients Again (Seriously)

In this article I share 5 principles to avoid the feast or famine cycle that takes down so many freelancers.
Barely a week goes by without somebody mentioning the feast or famine cycle, a period of extremes where you have too much work at one moment, and not enough the next.

I'm going to share with you 5 principles that have helped me to mostly avoid those dreaded periods of famine when it can sometimes feel like you'll never eat again. Apply these principles, and you'll create a sustainable and peaceful business.

Introducing the "5R" Business Model

Hand holding a seedling with sprouting leaf
Freelancing by its nature is volatile because most freelancers see themselves as a "gun for hire". This means that their clients pick them up and put them down as they need.

But by implementing the following strategy you'll be able to reduce the impact of unstable market conditions and the whims of your clients. I call it the 5R Business Model:

  1. Repetitive marketing
  2. Recurring revenue
  3. Reserves of cash
  4. Relationships that rock
  5. Restricted access

Let's break each one down.

1. Repetitive marketing

In tough times businesses tend to hunker down and stop marketing. This is crazy and only compounds the problem. To avoid a period of famine, you must continuously market your business. Show up every day to create value for your ideal clients, start conversations and book calls, even when you're busy.

Never. Stop. Marketing.

2. Recurring revenue

Resilient businesses usually have a passive income stream that supports their long-term growth and helps with cashflow during leaner months. Consider sharing what you know in a mini course, selling an ebook or some commodity service like web hosting. If you can't do this, get clients onto retainer by running their ads or writing weekly content for their website or social media channels. 

Look for the opportunities to create recurring revenue in your business.

3. Reserves of cash

Every month squirrel away a small portion of your income to create a cash buffer for your business. Aim to give yourself a 3 month runway so those quiet months are far less worrying. It is highly unlikely that you'll go more than a month or two without generating new business, so create a safety net for yourself and don't sweat it.

4. Relationships that rock

Fundamental to the long-term success of any business is the quality of relationships you build with clients. Aim for greatness. Serve them with heart and focus on getting them results. This alone will pretty much ensure you never experience a time of famine again, because clients will keep returning.

5. Restricted access

The first four Rs relate to reducing the impact of famine, but what about the feast? The truth is, the famine is usually created because you are too busy feasting to think about your business.

Therefore, you must set boundaries and restrict access to your service from time to time. Never allow a single client to "own" you. Do not become too reliant on any one client. I have seen entire agencies crash because their big fish client pulls the plug.

Restrict access to your time so you can take full ownership of your business to focus on stability and growth. Remember, it's your business. Don't let your clients run it.

Implement the 5Rs today

Matt Saunders coaching
If you've followed me for any length of time you'll know that I talk a lot about mindset. Truth is, implementing the principles I share here is not difficult - it just requires that you look at your business model in a slightly different way. If you expect feast or famine, you'll probably get it. But equally, if you decide you want a sustainable business, that is very much attainable also. It starts with you making a decision.

If you're curious about how you can implement these principles into your business and would like some support in doing so, I have two coaching spaces available right now. You can find out more and apply to work with me here.
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