Well folks, 2011 is almost over. There have been ups and downs, surprises and disappointments. But over all, I think I can say with confidence that Cohere is a stronger, more vibrant community than we were before. We survived a lean summer, a difficult lease renewal, a graffiti attack, and the search for a new home. All the while, you, the amazing community, supported each other, collaborated, grew your businesses, and redefined the state of unicorn cuisine.
I’m so excited to see what’s in store for Cohere in 2012! There will be a new space to make our own, new members to welcome, new projects to devise, and new projects on which to collaborate. It will be hard work, but as freelancers and remote workers, we are no strangers to self-motivation.
But just in case you’re looking for some resolutions that will help you to improve your professional and personal life in the New Year, here are a few to get you started:
Raise Your Rates
One thing every freelancer can agree on is the need to end the feast or famine cycle. One month you’ve got too much work, the next month you’re killing time while the bank account dwindles. This is no good. One strategy for ending this cycle is to raise your rates. Undervaluing your services is a surefire way to ensure you will constantly be searching for more clients. This can be stressful and also reduces the quality of customer service you can provide to your loyal customers.
Resolve to dedicate at least a few hours of your time to researching your competition. Get a better idea of what your peers are charging, and consult industry resources (if they exist) to find a baseline rate for professionals in your field. Consult with your fellow coworkers to find our what they charge. When in doubt, double it.
Use Your Coworking Space
Once you’re a seasoned coworker, it can be easy to forget that this community exists to empower and enrich you, the mobile worker. Are you using it to it’s full potential? Your membership at Cohere gives you permission to use this community as your sounding board, your focus group, your group therapist, and your drill sergeant. The level to which you are engaged with the community determines how much of a return you’ll see on your monthly investment.
Resolve to to teach and be taught. Be willing to share: your success and failures, as well as your knowledge and time. Most importantly, just show up. Amazing things happen when you are in the company of like-minded individuals that are genuinely interested in your success.
Say No More Often
As a freelancer or small business owner it’s easy to feel guilty when you’re not working. We take on too many projects because we’re afraid that someday we might not be able to find any. This “bring it on” approach might work for bigger companies with a stable full of talent, but it’s the expressway to burn out for a one or two person business. Not charging enough for your services facilitates this need to take on more than you can really handle (see Resolution #1).
Resolve to be more choosy. Pick projects that excite you, not projects you can live with. Refuse to renew contracts with difficult clients. Embrace your status as an expert in your field, and leave the entry-level projects for entry-level professionals.
Refine Your Brand/Specialize
This is part-two of the resolution to say no more often. Finding your niche is the first step toward success in your field, and limiting the type of projects you take on is the best way to define your brand. Specializing will allow your customers and coworking community to better understand what type of work you’re looking for, facilitating referrals that you’ll actually enjoy.
Resolve to sit down with yourself and outline your dream projects and clients. Once you’ve got a list, look for overarching themes. This is the type of work you’d love to do, and therefore the work that you’ll do the best.
Don’t Work More, Work Smarter
As a non-traditional worker, you are the master of your own destiny. You decide when and where to work. But we often forget that we also have the ability to decide HOW we work. Emulating a traditional workstyle in a new place won’t allow you to achieve the greater productivity that’s proven to come along with location-independence. Most people can only be truly productive for about 4 hours a day, so why are you forcing yourself to work 8?
Resolve to listen to your body and mind. Pay attention to your work habits, and find ways to maximize your personal style. When you’re tired, take a break. When you’d rather read a book than answer emails, do it. Don’t gaze out the window at a nice day, get out in it. Seek out tools and tricks that will help you stay focused and work more efficiently.
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Share your goals for a more productive year in the comments!
Image Credit: Flickr – lel4nd