Five things I learnt while running my own business

At the advertising agency where I work, I have been a partner for the last 8 years, which is like a pretty long time. During this period, I have gone through a transition from employee mindset to business owner’s mindset. I share these learnings for those of you in the creative space, working as freelancers, as independent creative agencies, and hope you will see the truth in these faster than I did. I had to lose a couple of really good clients, before I began to accept these as entrepreneurial truths.

  1. You never, ever argue with the client. The moment you argue with the client, you have lost her. If you want to get a point across, do so in a calm, composed and civilized manner. Never argue, no matter how friendly your equation is. Never forget, you are still a hired professional.
  2. When at the negotiating table, say nothing. Once you have made your offer, be silent. If the conversation continues, feel free to talk about the actual job and the deliverables, do not approach the numbers talk again. The other person gets the message that you are not willing to negotiate any further.
  3. A client typically hires you for what he thinks you know. Unless you have done some other kind of work for a common contact in his network, it gets a little difficult to upsell a client on your other services. Be ready to prove yourself in another space, when the opportunity (emergency) arises!
  4. Do the thinking for your client. Too often as creative people, we wait for the client to give us a brief and other comprehensive details on the job. In my experience, most of the time the client is really clueless about what he wants.
    He needs to see the draft creative to be able to say, “No, this is not what I was looking for, I want it like this.” I try to think out my clients’ needs as much as possible, so then all he really has to do is make minor corrections / tactical changes.
  5. Be ready to go back to the drawing board. While you are thinking for your client, there is a good chance that you haven’t really understood the client’s perspective on the communications piece. It happens even to experienced teams every once in a while. So after putting in a fortnight of hard work to come up with that brilliant creative, you have to be ready to start again if the client rejects the lot.

What have you learnt during your stint as a freelancer or a self employed creative? Do share your inputs below.

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