A few weeks ago, IPWS kicked off the new year by hosting a sold out event about Freelancing in Shanghai. We gathered 6 experienced freelancers to share their best tips and tricks on how to get started, how to keep it going and how to actually make a living and become successful in this challenging market.
One of our panelists, Shanghai entrepreneur Daisy Tang, not only shared her journey as a former freelancer, but also highlighted the differences between being a freelancer vs. entrepreneur. Today, she inspires us by going deeper and telling us the steps she took in order to define her passion and build a successful lifestyle business.
WORK VS LIVING
On an average day, we typically sleep 8 hours, which leaves us awake 16 hours to live our lives. Say we spent 8 hours on our job each day, that means we spend 1/2 of our lives at work. It is obvious to me that if I’m not happy at work, I will not live a happy life. Many people are miserable at work. Why? They have no passion for what they do. When you enjoy your work, it isn’t “work” anymore – it becomes your lifestyle. This is why I decided to build a “lifestyle business”, a business that is developed around my own lifestyle, and work becomes a means to fulfilling my life goals and purpose. These are the steps I took:
Step 1. Defining Goals
I believe that everyone has an inner calling in what they want to achieve in their lives. Some may argue that not everyone can turn their passion into a profession, which I disagree with. The world is full of opportunities, we can always find a way. More importantly, we have to look into ourselves and understand what our goals are and what values are most important to us. If you have difficulties setting your goals, there is always help around you – hire a life coach, talk to friends and family. In verbalising your thoughts, it helps you think with clarity. Without clear goals and purpose, we will forever struggle to fulfil our lives with happiness.
Step 2. Understanding Values
What determines how much we earn? From an employer point of view, you may say experience, work ethic, or simply the position you hold. Have you ever thought from a business perspective how we get paid? A business pays staff according to the value they generate for the business. It can be tangible, say revenue this person generates, or intangible, e.g. hiring the right talent for the company. Now, I know what value I can offer to businesses while achieving my goals, how do I proceed?
STAFF VS FREELANCER VS ENTREPRENEUR
Why becoming an entrepreneur is the best decision I’ve ever made?
Billing by Value vs Time – Unlock Your Earning Potential
If you want to get paid fairly, you need to understand how much value you are offering to a business/client. Say I design a logo for a new Coca Cola product that will generate 1 million RMB in the first year, and I ask for 1% of that revenue as my fee, it comes to 10,000RMB. But say if my daily rate is 2,000 and it takes me 2 days to create the logo, I only get paid 4,000RMB. Does it seem fair?
If you choose to bill by time, there is a limit on how much you earn as we only have limited hours to work in a day. I once was hired for a two-month project, but I finished it in one month as my years of experience enables me to work efficiently. I ended up getting paid for one month, which is half of what I was promised. Was it a fair deal for me? No. Would it make sense to work slowly and drag on for another month so I can earn more? No, that would bore me to death. How to get paid more and fairly? I should bill by my value, not my time.
Growth & Scalability
A freelancer often gets hired to execute work after all decisions are made, i.e. he/she serves as the gun for hire and he/she is always doing the same thing. Think to yourself: are you challenging yourself? Are you growing your skill set and experience horizontally or vertically?
What’s the answer for you?
Both staff and freelancers get paid by their time, i.e. their earning potential and growth is limited. A business owner on the other hand enjoys unlimited potential. But of course, the higher the potential, the higher is the risk. It comes down to: What do you value more? Which possibility allows you to achieve your goals?
HOW TO START MY OWN BUSINESS?
Any business boils down to two things: Sales & Marketing + Customer Service
First of all, always invest in sales & marketing – this is how you find clients. Ask in your network, advertise in your social media, give talks. There are many low-cost ways to promote yourself and your company. Don’t be afraid to get too much work, you can always hire people or outsource the workload. However, if you don’t have work, you have no company.
Secondly, customer service is the key to success and sustainable growth. When you nurture great customer/client-relationships, you maximise retainer rates and referrals, which is vital in conversion rate.
Ask yourself 3 questions: (by Daniel Pink)
1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper (Outsource)
2. Can a computer do it faster? (Automate)
3. Is what you’re selling in demand in an age of abundance? Does it have
significance? (High concept, significance)
What pass this test? Designers, artists, nurses, teachers, inventors, entrepreneurs, multi-faceted talents.
IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT
Being an entrepreneur is a mindset. Shift your mind and you will see positivity and possibilities. Excellence attracts excellence. Be your most excellent self, and opportunities will come to you.
Daisy Tang is a brand consultant and owner at Hola Daisy, a full-service branding and design agency she has just established in China. After years of freelancing and working full-time for agencies, she realized that the best way to pursue her passion for building powerful brands is through collaborating directly with her clients.
Having worked in Spain, Australia, Hong Kong and now Shanghai, Daisy enjoys sharing her journeys in her life and career. She’s always up for a chat over coffee or cruising around town on her longboard. Feel free to contact her on WeChat through the QR-code.
Free resources recommended by Daisy:
Ted Talk: Simon Sinek – How great leaders inspire action
Book: Simon Sinek – Leaders eat last
Business Coach: Blair Enns – Win Without Pitching
Podcast: the Futur by Chris Do – The Business of Design
Podcast: Guy Raz – How I built This with Guy Raz
Podcast: The Entrepreneurs by Monocle 24
Ted Talk: Dan Pink – The Mystery of Motivation