Strengths, weaknesses… and the key to freelance success
If you want to rock the socks off self-employment you need to play to your strengths and ignore your weaknesses – right? Wrong. Here are 6 reasons why knowing your strengths and your weaknesses can play a big part in freelance success.
- Know what makes you special
In business speak, this is known as your USP – your unique selling point. It’s the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd, and the reason clients will choose to work with you over your competitors.
Perhaps you offer a unique or unusual service. Maybe your strength is an ability to work quickly and efficiently. Perhaps working alone means you can provide a tailored, personal service to your clients. Or perhaps you’re highly experienced in a particular niche or market.
When you’ve identified your USP, reframe it from the perspective of your clients. What pains do you solve for them? What benefit will they get from working with you? Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to shout it from the rooftops!
- Play to your strengths
What qualities and strengths do you bring to the table? Perhaps you’re great at listening to your clients’ needs and coming up with creative solutions to their problems? Or perhaps organisation is your superpower, and you’re great at managing projects, timetables and budgets?
If you find it hard to recognise your positive traits, ask a trusted friend – or, if you’re feeling brave – ask clients why they’d recommend you (the answer may not be what you expect!).
Knowing your strengths – and what they mean to your clients – can help you recognise the clients and projects that are a good fit for you (and the ones to avoid!).
- Reframe your weaknesses
In the process of writing Survival Skills for Freelancers I asked the self-employed community on Twitter for the one quality they thought was vital to become a successful freelancer. Two answers that came up again and again were patience and thick skin.
I have neither. And that’s okay. Because being aware of the qualities you lack can work in your favour. Most weaknesses can be reframed as strengths. For example, impatient people are driven. They get things done. And my sensitivity makes me a great listener – an essential skill for freelancers.
Would life be easier without weaknesses? Sure, but they haven’t held me back, and they shouldn’t hold you back either.
- Know your personality
Are you naturally outgoing and extroverted, or more of the shy and retiring type? Being aware of your personality type enables you to develop working patterns that suit you.
Extroverts like me may benefit from building time into their day to chat to friends or colleagues online. Sharing ideas, advice and laughter with others can give extroverts the energy – and the productivity boost – to smash through an afternoon of deadlines with ease.
On the flip side, introverts may need to build in quiet time to recharge after a morning of online meetings or networking as, for them, being around other people can be draining. Spending the afternoon focused on productive output can be a great way to achieve this.
- Know your market
Before you spend time and energy on marketing your business, make sure you understand what your audience needs.
A little research into your target market – and some time spent asking the right people the right questions – can give you a valuable insight into the challenges that potential clients face.
Put yourself in their shoes. What are they struggling with? What pains can you solve for them? How can you make their life easier? Where are the gaps you need to fill? Use this inside information to market your services.
- Offer solutions
Essential purchases aside, people don’t make buying decisions based on facts and logic – they buy based on emotion.
Instead of focusing on practicalities such as your level of experience and qualifications, try answering your client’s primary question: “What’s in it for me?”.
How will working with you make them feel? Will it bring a sense of order and control? Will it provide peace of mind, knowing an important project is in safe hands? Will it help them meet their deadlines, and make them look good to their boss? Build this into your sales pitch.
As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
As a freelancer, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your own company! The better you know yourself, the better positioned you are to work on your weaknesses and play to your strengths. Get comfortable with who you are and you’re more likely to find freelance success. Go for it!