If you’re a freelancer and you come across another sole trader working nearby in exactly the same field, you might immediately consider them as competition, writes Abdullahi Muhammed for Forbes.
You could, of course, respond to this perceived threat by fluffing up your feathers and trying to prove you’re the best in town, before all your clients defect. But this kind of negative reaction will do more harm than good.
According to Muhammed, this will only flag up that you are on the defensive and probably already feeling inadequate in the services you are offering. It will also rob you of the chance to create a mutually supportive relationship
FIVE WAYS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR HAND
An entrepreneur and freelancing expert, he has devised a five-point plan to make the best of the situation.
1) Take an honest look at what could be damaging your business. Another freelancer should be the least of your worries. Look closer to home to consider your own skills, strategies and time management and tackle your weaknesses. Ask:
- Is your website in good shape?
- Do you have a solid game plan around pricing?
- Are you giving enough priority to sales and marketing?
- Could you do with refreshing your skills?
- Are you wasting time on pointless tasks?
2) Reach out to your “rival” on social media. Make friends, “like” them on Facebook and Twitter, follow their blog and share their best content with your followers. “You’ll increase your status in the eyes of your followers who will appreciate that you share valuable content no matter the source.”
There’s a good chance this will become a reciprocal arrangement, opening up new audiences for both you and your fellow freelancer.
3) Learn from your new contemporary. “If someone has gone further on their career path than you, don’t go green with envy. Learn from them. How are they reaching out to their target audience? What skills do they have that you lack?” Be inquisitive about their methods and invite them to ask for your advice and guidance so that you can learn from each other.
4) Try collaborating. Sometimes there will be projects you have to turn down because they are too big for you to tackle alone, they require some skills you don’t have or you are simply too busy. What if you could conquer those hurdles by working with another freelancer? The client gets the job done and you both have potential for future assignments. It’s a win-win solution.
5) Work on strengthening your brand. You need to look different to potential clients. Make sure you have something special to attract them that other freelancers aren’t offering. Is there a niche market you could target?
There’s no need to put yourself in competition with fellow freelancers. By turning a rival into an ally you have nothing to lose and much to gain. At the same time, it’s worth paying close attention to the way you currently run your own business. Resolve to make best use of your time, build up new skills – particularly in sales and marketing – and fortify your web presence and branding so you are up to speed with your contemporaries.