Top 5 Spring Cleaning Tasks For Busy Entrepreneurs

messy desk

You wouldn’t know it with all that white stuff lying on the ground, but Spring has sprung in Colorado. Though most people are busy organizing closets or washing windows, Spring cleaning doesn’t only happen around the house.

The changing of the season also indicates the start of a new fiscal year, a good time to take stock of your last year of business, and set yourself up for success over the next 12 months. As freelancers and solopreneurs, we thrive on flying by the seat of our pants, but sometimes that makes for a disorganized style of business–and disorganization always costs time and money.

If you’ve been feeling a little chaotic and claustrophobic lately, here are five spring cleanup tasks that will bring order your desk, work flow, and professional life.

Sort and Delete

How many unused files still live on your hard drive? A final edit, software you tested, or CSS files from an old client? Yes, keeping them for a month after the project completes is normal. Keeping them a year after is not. It’s just digital clutter making it harder for you to access active files (and probably slowing down your machine, too). Take a couple of hours to open these archives and send what you don’t need to the recycling bin.

Pro tip! Store client work in the cloud or sign up for an organizational tool like Doo to keep things better organized in the future.

Update your Portfolio

Was 2012 a busy year? Proud of the work you’ve produced? Then it’s time to update your profile. Remember, portfolios are meant to be beautiful, exciting, and show your diversity as a professional. No matter what type of client you’re pitching, you want to be sure they’ll see the talent they’re looking for among examples of past work. Pro tip! Always make sure to ask client permission to include their project in a portfolio (or build that language into the contract).

Unsubscribe to Junk Mail

Throughout the year we sign up for lots of newsletters and email alerts that we don’t really need. Months later we find ourselves slogging through this same junk mail every morning. Reduce the clutter in your inbox by unsubscribing to any automatic emails that you don’t read or utilize on the regular.

Pro tip! Sometimes purchases or registrations for useful services come with unwanted email. Be sure to uncheck the newseltter/special offer box next time you’re signing up for something online.

Financial Facelift

For most entrepreneurs, tax time is a gut check. The IRS tells you in no uncertain terms whether you’re making and setting aside enough of your income. Take a few extra minute with your accountant or tax prep professional to ask questions about what you could do differently in the coming year. Maybe you need to up your savings. Or maybe you just need to up your rates. Thing about where you want to be financially next spring, and set the goals now that will help you get there.

Pro tip! Think about making quarterly tax payments this year if you haven’t been doing so already. Your tax professional can help you estimate how much these should be.

Reinvest in You

You spend thousands of hours doing what’s right for your clients, but when’s the last time you did something nice for your professional self? It’s very important for entrepreneurs to keep learning, experimenting, and discovering. Continually challenging yourself with new ideas and tools keeps your mind sharp, and that’s why clients keep coming back! Sign up for a class, attend a workshop, or get a change of scenery. New environments and people are the chisel’s that can help reveal new opportunities and talents hidden within your community.

Pro tip! Sign up for Cohere’s free day pass and come see what it’s like to work in a great space full of great people striving to be the best at what they do.

Image via MarketMeSuite/Flickr

3 Reasons Why Freelancers Don’t Need A Traditional Resume

When you were in school, a well-rounded resume seemed like the Holy Grail. Extra-curricular activities, internships, grades…you pursued them all for the sake of  ‘the resume.’

But that was probably back when you thought all jobs happened in an office.

Now you’re an independent member of the mobile workforce, handling the marketing, client relations, and yes, the actual work pretty much all on your own.

If it’s been more than six months since you’ve even thought about the state of your traditional resume, you might wonder if there’s even a point in updating it.

And even if you want to build a traditional resume, you’ll probably find that paragraph-long snippets about your objectives and accomplishments hardly does the freelance experience justice.

So why bother? There are much more modern and efficient ways to demonstrate your professional prowess.

Here are 3 reasons why you can feel completely comfortable letting that resume gather dust on your hard drive:

1. Your Clients Don’t Want To Read It

Let’s be honest: no one ever found work because of a piece of paper listing their previous work experience and supposed accomplishments. Independent professionals aren’t seeking traditional jobs, so why would they marketing themselves in a traditional (read: outdated) manner? Clients will come to know you and your work in the same way: by meeting it face to face. When clients consider you for a project, they want to know how you work, what your work looks like, and whether you’ll get the job done right. These are all extensions of your personality, and unless your personality is similar to an 8.5 x 11 in. piece of paper and Times New Roman font, the traditional resume ain’t gonna do it justice.

2. Pictures Are Worth A Thousand Words

Prospective clients don’t want to read about your alleged work, they want to see, feel, hear, and touch your actual work. Instead of slaving over a correctly formatted resume, why not create an easily accessible portfolio that demonstrate the true depth and breadth of your passion? I think Megan, a commenter on FreelanceFolder said it best:

“I have had some requests for resumes, and honestly I’m at a bit of a loss as far as why someone hiring a freelancer would want a resume, especially when I, like many freelancers, have a portfolio full of work for them to look at. A portfolio can offer so much more than a resume can, since a portfolio can have not only information on a person’s skills but examples of skills in use, and not only a list of prior employers, but actual examples of work done for those prior employers.”

I would add that you never think to ask a company for its resume, you ask to see examples of its work. And as a freelance professional, you’re a business and should present yourself as such.

3. There Are Websites That Do That

Paper is out, digital is in. Instead of forcing clients to slog through your attached PDF resume, why not provide them with a one-click ticket to a gallery of your work? A blog or personal website is the resume of a 21st century freelancer. If you don’t have the time to set one up, sites like LinkedIn, BranchOut, or ReferralKey are more efficient tools for hosting your work experience in an online format.

The Catch

Not everyone produces work that can be displayed easily in a portfolio or on a blog. Writers or coders are two that immediately spring to mind. In this case, I would suggest getting creative. Like this guy:


Or this one:

Or Miss Smiles at the top of this post.

Your turn: How many times has a traditional resume helped you get work in the past year? What do you use instead?

Image Credits: Flickr – jwynia | Ethan Hein | socialisbetter

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