Host of CNN African Voices show, the Nigerian journalist Arit Okpo has shared the rules by which (small) businesses can structure, survive and scale in 2020.
Writing on Twitter with her handle @thearitokpo, she set out seven steps for creatives, freelancers and other self-employed to set goals for the new year.
1.Take down written notes with clients
Make sure all your communication with clients is written down. If you have a phone conversation, as soon as it ends, send an email along the lines of – as per our conversation. End it with something that indicates their response is needed before continuing.
“Looking forward to your OK on this so that we can proceed “. You avoid ‘he said/she said’ situations. You avoid situations where the client (says they) didn’t see your email and so can’t fulfill certain terms.
Also make sure you have discussed all your obligations before agreeing on fee. So if you’re a stylist, you know that the fee agreed on includes (for instance) – the outfit, shoes, accessories, drycleaning and delivery. This way you avoid I thy knew.
2. Calculate the unit value of the service you’re offering
I value my time by the hour – I have a base unit for 1 hour and scale accordingly. If you provide different services, it’s ok to have different rates per service. Just make sure it’s an accurate value of your time.
And it’s ok for this value to evolve, start from somewhere and correct as you go.
3. Create a description of your work that is an effective mission statement
“I am an event planner” is good but “I create intimate, spontaneous experiences that ensure a great time and lots of happy memories” is even better.
Your description paints a picture of your services and also guides you so that you know what jobs are right for you. Again, it’s ok to start broad and evolve and refine as you identify where you are at your best.
4. Start creating a repository of your work
If you can’t afford a website, use Instagram, create a folder you can share, make a showreel. Devote a time (once a month?) to update and edit as needed.
5. Set the rules before you engage
Remember the HR handbooks you get in corporate settings? What is your code of conduct? What are the things you need/will not work with? It can be something as simple as – All jobs must be booked and paid for at least 48 hours on advance. Give yourself structure
Find out what you need to streamline your service and create a code that guides you across the board. After the PH incidents,someone I know who works in client’s homes started asking for picture ID to be sent before going to the client’s house.
6. Determine your own parameters for measuring success
Remember that you are the one wearing your shoes. Don’t use other people as a yardstick. Challenge yourself of course, but decide what looks like growth for YOU. If you’re starting out as an event host, is it progress if you do 1 event a month? Let that be your yardstick.
Don’t feel bad because the clients you’ve been hoping for called Ebuka instead of you. Create your own markers, so that you don’t get distracted chasing other people’s parameters.
7. Celebrate your wins
Freelance work is unpredictable enough and other dependent enough to give you HBP. Find a way to chronicle, celebrate and revel in your wins. There will be more than enough time to wonder why client B didn’t come back, celebrate client A first.
Follow these rules and 2020 will be good to you and your business. You’ll find fulfillment and happiness. May we excel in our work and expand our client list. May both our work and our cheques be premium. May there be growth.
Arit Okpo, who worked with Richard Quest on his visit to Nigeria for his CNN programme “Quest Business Traveller,” was a producer and presenter for EbonyLife TV and hosted the web talk show, Untold Facts.