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Tag Archives: business development

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to business development.

5 Ways to Find More Work with Each Client

By Andy Haynes at Freshbooks
This article originally appeared on the Freshbooks Blog on January 26th, 2015

Let me tell you a story about an entrepreneur who learned to find more work with a single client-and how you can do the same. Michelle is a client of mine. She had been working as a marketing consultant for almost a year and had landed a few good clients. Unfortunately, her biggest client, a rapidly growing app company, only used her for marketing copy; ignoring the other skills she could bring to the table.

Cracking the code

The client thought of her whenever copywriting work came up-but he’d hired others to help with his marketing strategy, long-form content and branding projects-all things that Michelle could have done well. She knew that soon the copywriting work would run out and, if she couldn’t crack the code that would convince the client to give her other marketing projects, she’d be facing a revenue crash.

The five step solution

Trying to convince clients you’re deserving of more work is a problem I’ve experienced many times over the years. Entrepreneurs, even veteran ones, often run the risk of getting pigeon-holed by their clients. Why? Because we often have to narrowly focus our message in order to land that first piece of business. Such is the power of first impressions: they create an anchor-an idea that clients hold onto-regarding who we are and what we can do for them. So, what I shared with Michelle were five tips I’d harvested over the years for overcoming a faulty first impression and expanding your opportunities with a client:

  1. Demonstrate your range of expertise with examples of different work you have done
  2. Offer to take part in strategy meetings; become part of the team
  3. Offer feedback on items beyond your current project
  4. Create new work to show your client what could be possible
  5. Add value by sharing ideas or strategies that have worked for other clients

The steps in action

To start redefining herself, Michelle asked her client for the opportunity to make a presentation. Her goal-to prove to him that she could add value to his business in ways he didn’t yet see. And the key to achieving her goal was the prep work she did before their meeting. She mapped out the strategies she would implement if she were marketing his firm. And she assembled a portfolio of work she’d done with other clients that demonstrated her ability to put those strategies into action. In a couple of cases, she even created new branding documents as examples of what she could do for him, if he trusted her with an expanded role.

In the meeting she started her pitch session by asking her client about his current marketing strategy and how effective it was. This gave her the opportunity to share her ideas and to back them up with the supporting examples she’d brought. He got excited when she shared branding ideas that had worked with other clients, and the pitch quickly turned into an exchange of new ideas for marketing his business in the coming year.

The final word

That presentation was only the beginning. When I checked in with Michelle a month later, she was thrilled. Her client had brought her in to consult on his marketing strategy for the rest of the year. He was no longer stuck on his faulty first impression and they were working together on a much broader range of projects.

Using the five steps that worked for Michelle can help you remove your client’s stubborn anchor. And, as you move forward with new clients, you can use those same strategies in your first pitch meeting to make sure you accurately represent the full range of your skills right from the start.

About the author: Andy Haynes is a writer for FreshBooks. He is the co-author of two best-selling business books, a successful entrepreneur and business consultant.

FreshBooks_logo[1]FreshBooks is the #1 cloud accounting solution designed for small business owners. They help everyone from the most fragile of businesses (many of them one person, first time owners) to the most vibrant businesses, collecting billions of dollars. FreshBooks is designed for service-based businesses. They uphold a longstanding tradition of providing extraordinary customer service and building a product that helps save customers time, pursue their passion and serve their customers.

All About an Independent Contractor’s Business Cards

Dan Gasser By Dan Gasser,
Marketing Specialist at Eagle

Do you have business cards? If not, you could be hurting your business. It may be something that’s been on your to-do list for a while, but you’ve been holding off because it’s a hassle, or maybe you don’t think it’s worth the time or the cost.  Let’s put that train of thought to rest and look at the Why, When, Where, What and How of business cards (the “Who” is pretty obvious).

Why should you have business cards?

  • It makes it easy to hand out your contact information
  • It shows that you’re serious and professional
  • It’s another tool to help differentiate you as an independent business in the eyes of the CRA
  • It’s a differentiator to both recruiters and clients
  • It’s a chance to get creative and complement your personal brand

When and where do you want to hand them out?

All the time and everywhere. Never leave home without at least a few cards and hand them out like candy in these situations:

  • Recruiter and client interviews
  • When you’re onsite with other contractors on your team
  • Networking and industry events
  • Tradeshows
  • Any time there’s the slightest chance of running into a potential client or referral

What should be included?

  • The obvious contact information: Business name, your name, title, phone number, Sample Business Cardmailing address and email address
  • Your fax number could be relevant, but it’s often unnecessary
  • Include your certifications, but only the relevant ones that really separate you.  Almost every professional today has a basic post-secondary education.
  • An online profile. That could be LinkedIn, or a professional website.  Check out this past post for more details about your online resume.
  • Branding.  Do you have a logo?  At the very least, what about a consistent colour scheme?  Check out Adobe Kuler help find your brand’s colours.
  • Keep it simple and remember to leave plenty of white space.  Nobody likes clutter.
  • Think about what you want on the back.  Some say you can get creative to make it fun memorable, while others will tell you to leave it blank and non-glossy so it’s easy to take notes.  That’s your choice.

How are you supposed to do all of that when you’re so busy?

  • Go to a local business supply store and find some business card template paper (for example Avery brand has many options and is available in most stores). You can find some pre-designed blank cards that will already match your brand. They usually come with Microsoft Word templates so you just type in your information, print at home, and you’re set!
  • If you’d like them printed more professionally, take a look at Staples Copy & Print or Vistaprint.  They have hundreds of templates that make it easy for you to design your card quickly.
  • Want to print your own design?  Staples and Vistaprint will do that too. They produce professional cards, but you’ll need to submit professional files. Avoid using a word processor like Microsoft Word to design them. Instead use Adobe tools like Illustrator or Photoshop if you’re familiar with them, try this simple business card creator from Canva, or get the help of a professional designer.  Sites like Freelancer, Upwork and maybe even Fiverr can provide some cost-effective options.

Do you have your own business cards?  How did you create them and how do you use them?  Share your tips and suggestions below!

Are You Thinking Like an Entrepreneur?

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice-President, Government Services at Eagle

Several years ago I attended a business conference in the US and the keynote speaker, the Founder/CEO of a nationwide Pizza delivery chain, told the story of an early strategic marketing meeting he had with his internal team.  While reviewing advertising dollar spend through the months of the year, he noticed something that struck him as odd and asked something of his team: “Why do we spend so little on advertising in February?” to which his Ivy League educated marketing MBA’s responded “Because nobody buys pizza in February.” After an awkward silence the CEO’s deadpan response was ‘ well no kidding!”

A similar story of entrepreneurial opportunity can be told of the Czecholsovakian born Strategic entrepreneur looking at unsolved puzzleand ultimately Toronto-based one-time business owner, Thomas Bata of Bata Shoes. Before deciding on whether to expand his shoe empire to Africa, he decided on a plan where he and one of his other Senior Executives would embark on an excursion through the continent.  To assess the market, one would travel down the East Coast, the other the West coast and they would meet back in Canada and compare notes.  Upon returning, the Senior Executive basically said “It is hopeless, 90% of the population doesn’t wear shoes, the other 10% wear sandals. We will not sell shoes there.”  Mr. Bata listened and contemplated the Senior Exec’s observations before responding “This is the greatest opportunity in the history of our company, nobody wears shoes there!”

Two tales of how entrepreneurs view opportunity where many others do not.  What do these stories have to do with you? As an independent contractor, you are running a small business and, therefore, are an entrepreneur.  Logically, then, it only makes sense that you also think like an entrepreneur to continue to thrive and grow our business.  If you’re not already, here are just some great reasons to start today and benefits you’ll see:

  • You Will Seize More Opportunities! Like the two stories above, opportunity is everywhere. By thinking like an entrepreneur and grabbing those opportunities, you’ll keep a steady stream of work coming through the door.  For example, there is a lot of vacation in Canada during the dog days summer months of July and August, but clients have projects that don’t go on vacation.  This is a great time to respond to their requirements while others are sitting on the dock.
  • You Will Develop Long-Term Business. Thinking and acting like an entrepreneur means consistent marketing, developing solid business relationships, and living up to contractual commitments in a business-like way to deliver to your client. All of these will go a long way to sustaining and building a long-term business, as opposed to the higher risk path of jumping contract-to-contract.
  • It Will Protect You. Successful entrepreneurs have a marketing plan, website, home office, business plan and messages. These are all very strong indicators to CRA you are not an employee but are a business, and help to reduce your risk at tax time.

The stories above help remind us how easy it is to become successful and find opportunities, simply by looking at a situation from a different point-of-view.  When independent contractors look at themselves as entrepreneurs, they too open the door to many new opportunities.  Do you have an entrepreneurial mind-set with your business or do you just go from one contract to another and hope for the best?  What other opportunities have you reaped from acting like an entrepreneur?  Let us know in the comments below!