Oct 18

What You Need to Build a Six Figure Freelance Business

Consistent £10k months are within your reach. But you might need to make a few changes. Here are my top 5 lessons after (accidentally) hitting the 6 figure mark in my business.
When I think about my own success story, I picture the tip of an iceberg. What people see is a web design business passing the £100k mark in 12 months and a bunch of genuinely happy clients.

What they don't see, of course, is the chunk of ice under the surface that contains all the learnings, failures and frustrations of the past. That is why in this article I want to share with you the things that I can directly attribute my success to, in the hope that it inspires you to make the changes you need in your own business to move forward.

#1 You need a mission

Let's get this out of the way right now: your business must exist to serve a purpose. Most individuals start businesses because they want more freedom and money. That's fine, but to reach the next level, you must stand for something greater than your own personal enrichment. 

When I worked with charities the primary goal was to not only level up their online presence, but to support their staff in making more empowered decisions. That's why I wrote a book and ran webinars to teach them everything I knew. 

That was my mission for this business and it ultimately became 4x more profitable than anything I had tried previously. I had spent a decade prior  with no real sense of direction, taking on any type of client or project, always looking to satisfy only my own needs. But when your mission begins and ends with "what's in it for me?" you'll probably find a pretty miserable life.

So my first lesson, if you want to build a profitable and impactful business, is to develop a mission you can get behind.

Incidentally, this is the first foundation from my course The Freelance Business Builder. You'll find a whole module guiding you through how to find your purpose in business. 

#2 You need to know your clients

You don't need to niche down. But you do need to get to know one or two types of clients intimately. In business it's very easy to operate at the surface level where you're never seen as anything more than a gun for hire.

I'm not criticising this - there's reasonable money to be made and done well you can live a pretty peaceful life.

But you intuitively know that low risk normally means low return. To hit six figures and beyond, you need to go deeper. That means to position yourself as a strategic partner, and to do that you must know your clients very well.

What motivates them? What do they believe? How do they treat their staff and their own customers? These are what we call psychographic properties, and together they build up a picture of the ideal sort of person you'd like to work with. When you define and connect with others who you resonate with, you're less likely to see conflict or experience awkward conversation.

Who's your ideal client? Write down all the things you'd LOVE to find in a client and project. This is your guiding star. Ignore this and you'll be relying on luck, and that's no way to build a prosperous six figure business.

#3 You need resilience

Life is not fair. Why is that when you try something new, or when you attempt to better yourself, it's common to experience resistance and pain?

It is because growth is painful. If it were not, you would be in a perpetual state of comfort. And absolutely nothing grows there.

So to weather the storm of personal growth, you need resilience. You must be able to accept rejection and criticism, and you must have faith that you're on the right path even when you're seeing no results. 

I'm not talking about having blind optimism. I'm referring to the ability to evolve and adapt your approach when things don't appear to be working. To cultivate patience and resilience, I've found it helpful to practice gratitude for what I have and the lessons I've learned so far. When in a constant state of lack, it's hard to be strong, because you're always wanting more. 

So try new things without fear. And only listen to those who are ahead of you on the journey. Ignore the naysayers on the sidelines, and stick steadfastly to your own plan. Have confidence in yourself that you can make it happen. That's resilience, and it is the preserve of top performers.

#4 You need support

As a coach I'm always concerned by how often people want to go it alone, like they've got something to prove. I get it - sometimes we want to show the world what we're made of, and prove to ourselves that we can do it.

But you know what? You'll get to success quicker if you enlist the help of others. So don't let your ego sabotage you - reach out. Coaching is probably the best way to move forward, but mentors and peer support can also be really helpful.

What happens when we isolate ourselves? We suffer a deficit of new ideas, our (often faulty) thinking goes unchallenged, and we get lost in our own indecision. So heed my words: if you want success, get support.

#5 You need systems

To create a business that can grow and scale, you'll need ways to process things in a repeatable way. You need systems.

For years I would find myself starting almost from scratch every time. But after developing the following systems to create speed and consistency, my web design business reached six figures much more easily:

  • Reusable code deployed on new sites to save writing from scratch
  • User guide materials for clients to cut down on support time
  • Invoicing software that automatically chased late payments
  • A repeatable onboarding process that all clients went through
  • A deployment process to launch new sites with minimal chance of problems and errors

You might not know which systems you need from day one. That's fine. But do hold an occasional debrief with yourself to find out where the repetition is in your business, then invest in software (or staff) to plug the gaps. You don't hit the big time by struggling through every project.

Closing thought:
Reaching six figures is not about the money at all

After years of struggling to get by and seeking new and novel ways to make a quick buck, I realised that good money is actually a side effect of running a good business. In fact, if you chase the money, it simply runs away.

I didn't set out to hit six figures. But I did set out on a mission to serve my clients in the best way possible, and it paid off in ways I couldn't imagine. 

So if your freelance business feels like it's stagnating and you instinctively know there's more for you, check out my coaching, my course and my intensive. There is something here that will help.
Learn how to create a thriving freelance career in my course The Freelance Business Builder
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