Rules don’t have to feel restrictive. They can help you—and your business—stay on track by allowing you to make decisions faster and more efficiently. One of the traits of a successful freelancer is to have and keep your own business rules.
Consider these rules as business boundaries. Once you set a boundary, if there is ever a time when you need to make a decision you can do so based on your already established rule, making it easier for your business—and you—to move forward.
Establishing and maintaining these business rules will help you create a successful and healthy work-life balance.
Here are three freelance business rules that you need to start using to keep your freelance business successful and your mindset set on success!
1. Have a Minimum Number
Even if you’re just beginning your freelance business, you likely have your rates in mind. These may vary based on a variety of factors: the work you’re doing, the industry you’re working in, and the turnaround time for the work, for instance. You probably have a range of fees (whether it’s per hour or per project) based on numerous factors.
However, there is one very important number to keep in mind at all times: your minimum number. What is this? It’s the lowest number that you will accept as a fee for your work.
For example, a client may want to offer you $50 an hour for your work. If your minimum number is $60 an hour, you may reply with, “I usually charge $75 an hour, but I’m willing to do this work for $60 an hour.”
If the client comes back and says they can’t go any higher than $55 an hour, be prepared to walk away. You need to set this minimum number now before you start negotiations with any client and stay firm.
Your minimum number may also be a set flat fee. That’s okay, too! Whatever it is, determine that number and stick with it.
People who are new to running their own freelance business may find it hard to set and stick with this number. Even pros who have been working for years find it hard to turn down work. But don’t think of it as losing out on money. Think of it as getting paid what you’re worth!
When you finish reading this post, determine your minimum number—whether it’s an hourly or a flat fee rate. Even better: Come up with both so you’re prepared for your next client negotiation.
2. Set Rules for Your Out-of-Office Time
One of the reasons you likely started your own freelance business is for the flexibility of hours. However, since freelancers don’t get paid vacation time from an employer, it can be hard to allow ourselves to take time off. It’s sometimes even difficult to set and maintain a daily schedule.
But time off is critical to prevent burnout! It’s important to recharge and take a break from the daily hassles of work so you’re at your best for your business and your clients.
Here are a few sample boundaries you many consider setting for yourself—and letting your clients know when working on projects for them.
- I do not check email over the weekend. (If this is problematic for you to follow, remove work email from your phone if it’s easier for you to enforce this!)
- I take a minimum of four weeks of vacation each year. (Block those weeks at the beginning of the year.)
- I do not work Fridays after 3:oo p.m.
- I only take meetings Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- I am off all federal holidays. (It’s important to know that some of your clients may work holidays that you plan to take off, such as Veterans Day in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean you need to work on them! Be sure to let your client know ahead of time.)
Set and enforce these boundaries and clients will respect them. Remember: Every corporation you ever worked for had a calendar with OOO days and holidays. As a freelancer, you should, too!
3. Celebrate Your Wins
It’s natural to set and meet goals and then move on to the next set. You need to build in time to celebrate your wins. This is even more important for a freelancer. You won’t be getting those annual performance reviews (and, unfortunately, bonuses), but you can celebrate your success in other ways!
Here are a few ways you can celebrate your wins:
- With each new client I book a project with, I’ll treat myself with a new outfit or dinner out.
- When I hit my monthly income goal, I’ll meet a friend for a drink.
- When I hit $X, I’ll book my next vacation!
- When I get good feedback from a client, I’ll buy myself that new tech gadget I’ve been eyeing on Amazon.
These are just some ideas. Come up with your own celebration to make them even more special!
Also, consider pinning your list of wins above your desk as an incentive. Working toward goals always makes us more effective.
These are just three rules to help ensure you reach freelance business success—and continue to grow your freelance career!
We’d love to hear how you celebrate your wins! Tell us in the comments below. We’re always looking for new ways to treat ourselves after a successful freelance project!
Last Updated on July 1, 2023 by Craig Galo