My Business Recipe for Success

A loaf of bread rising on a cooling rack.About two weeks ago, I received an interesting query. “Would you share some of your tips and tools in a ‘recipe for success’?” Anyone who knows me well can guess at my response: “Of course!” I enjoy the occasional writing prompt and, well, assignment. Writing and editing, after all, pay the bills.

My recipe for success entails five parts. It ranges from the meticulous — tools, calendars, apps, et cetera — to the spiritual. For me, business success requires a whole-bodied effort, mind, body, heart, and soul.

Figure Out the One Thing

When I started freelancing, it wasn’t as Write Right. I worked as “factotum,” and I used the term because I offered a variety of services. I provided writing and editing, which have always been the “meat and potatoes” of the operation; social media management; and graphic design.

Problem: I’m a much better writer than designer. It’s one of the reasons I no longer mention it in conversation or on my website. As for social media, I enjoy crafting social media strategies, but I’m not as much of a fan when it comes to community management. Can I do it? Certainly, and I do it well. However, the service sucks the well of creativity dry. It also makes me feel like my attention is forever scattered, which serves no one.

Thus, I figured out my one thing, writing and editing. I can do more than that, and I often do because it’s my nature and in my wheelhouse. I gain that ability, though, through prioritizing the one thing and letting everything else blossom from it.

Network Often

I’m terrible at networking, which makes the second “ingredient” in my recipe for success either ironic or medicinal. However, I need to network. It introduces me to new people. By forming relationships with them, I sometimes discover work opportunities.

The value in networking seems obvious. Perhaps it is. However, I still struggle to believe that in my head. I’ve been to events that turned out to be complete wastes of time. Other times, the networking and social events prove wearisome.

I’m an introvert, though, so the exhaustion is to be expected. Because I know that about myself — plus a few other details, thanks to the Gallup StrengthsFinder — I exercise judgment and discretion. If I can hit a few networking events per month, my energy stays constant, and I meet some new faces.

Follow Up with Past Leads and Clients

In addition to meeting people offline, I follow up with past leads and clients online. Some of the work is tiresome. Usually, though, I don’t mind reaching out to someone already in my network. We possess a working relationship or other commonality that makes for easier conversation.

It also helps that I’m more than a little persistent. I’m willing to entertain an answer of “no” and “not yet,” too. Such answers never dissuade me from reaching out again in the next quarter or new year.

If anything, the communication reminds people that I exist. They might not have work for me at the moment. However, they could know someone who does and be willing to refer me to them.

Use Some Tools

I’ve spoken previously about how I get things done, but it’s worth talking through again. To get my work done not only on time but also well, I use a plethora of tools. Some are traditional; others, digital.

The traditional tools include pens, to-do lists, notebooks, folders, and wall calendars. Something in me, probably my “achiever” strength, craves crossing off an item on my checklist. Plus, writing things down helps concepts and due dates to sink into my brain.

I also use plenty of digital tools, including project management applications, social media management and email platforms, and invoicing software. These tools keep my work from becoming unmanageable. I know I wouldn’t get very far at all without them.

Pray

I list “pray” as the last ingredient in my recipe for success, but it’s more elemental to my life than that. Faith in God moved me toward full-time freelancing at the end of 2015. It keeps me freelancing now.

As such, faith and prayer should perhaps be seen as ingredients within and sprinkled seasoning without. I can’t fathom a life where work and faith don’t commingle. Then again, I don’t hold with the idea that the spiritual and secular spheres should be divided.

They should be whole because, when they are whole, I am whole. I experience no division of the self. Everything in me and in my life orients toward God who gives me talent and provides for my needs. I’ve yet to go hungry or miss a self-employed insurance premium. I give God, not me, credit for that.

My recipe for success may not be for everyone, but it is mine. Faith in God gives me hope on all days, good and bad. Tools keep the work on track rather than off the rails. Networking and regular communication ensure I stay top-of-mind, as well as abreast of new trends. My one thing? My one thing grounds me, which allows me to…I’d say “fly” since I like birds. However, the metaphor is “recipe,” so I shall say “rise.” My one things grounds me and causes me to rise.

Image: Chuck Falzone (Creative Commons)

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