May 2017 Business Report

I’m pulling the curtain back on my small business!

In February 2017, I decided to start sharing my monthly business reports. In these reports, I discuss the month’s positives and negatives as well as progress I made towards my 2017 goals. I also give a snapshot of my earnings.

May continued to be a purposeful slowdown period for my business. I focused on getting everything ready for the new baby and took some time off. Still, May ended up being a more profitable month than April.

Here’s what happened in May.

Positives

  • Continued low stress/routine work

I have a few clients that I’ve worked with for years and I continued working on their projects through May. This work is usually low stress and doesn’t take a lot of time so it was perfect for my slowdown period.

  • Prepared for maternity leave

I met with a local client to discuss my leave and sent off documents detailing my maternity leave to other clients. I wanted to make sure I had this done in advance because Norah came almost three weeks earlier than her due date. Unfortunately, being self-employed means that I will not be receiving any benefits or pay during my leave, but it also gives me the opportunity to choose how much time I want off and come back when I’m ready.

Negatives

  • Less income coming in

I will continue to bring in less income until September when Norah starts preschool and I establish a routine with my son. I don’t have the time or energy to hustle for more business right now.

  • End of nap time work session

Norah started phasing out naps in February and has completely stopped taking them at this point. This has been a bit of an adjustment because I did at least 2 hours of quality work during her naps each day. My schedule will continue to shift and evolve as my son is born in late June/early July and Norah enters preschool in August. Fortunately, I mostly roll with the punches and I’m motivated to find ways to balance everything and make it work.

  • Not enough time to work on EBA

I’m still working on the Elite Blog Academy course, but unfortuntely with the lack of naps and general pregnancy exhaustion I haven’t had much time to do anything towards this personal goal. I hope to have more energy and time to work on this in the last half of the year.

Progress towards business goals

1) Increase my income by $10,000

I don’t want to say this goal is impossible for this year, but it will be difficult. I have a lot of ground to make up from my lost clients before I will be at the “increasing income” level. Right now I’m trying to get back to where I was in January.

2) Get another local client

This goal is on pause until September.

3) Launch The Sturm Agency website

Hopefully, we’ll get something put together by late summer/early Fall.

4) Launch my freelancer idea

I have not made any progress on this goal yet.

5) Sponsor something in the community

This goal is on hold until 2018.

Income Snapshot

Income statement May 2017

This income came from a mixture of social media management, virtual assistant work, one-off organization projects, and content writing.

I may eventually share the actual numbers associated with my income, but for now I’m not comfortable doing that. I will be sharing this income snapshot to show a trend of my income throughout the year.

 

April Business Report

I’m pulling the curtain back on my small business!

In February 2017, I decided to start sharing my monthly business reports. In these reports, I discuss the month’s positives and negatives as well as progress I made towards my 2017 goals. I also give a snapshot of my earnings.

April was another slow month for me. I consciously scaled back on work and turned down an opportunity for a new client. As my due date approaches, I’m focusing on finishing up tasks with my current clients and writing blog posts for my maternity leave.

Here’s what happened in April.

Positives

  • Gained one new client

I was contacted by a few referrals at the end of March and one turned into a client! Hopefully, this will be a long-term relationship that will continue after my maternity leave. I’ll be doing general virtual assistant work for this client.

  • Worked on a few bigger projects

I had a couple of bigger projects due this month for my long-time clients. These projects happen once each year and take approximately 10 hours to complete. I was able to boost my income a bit from these projects.

  • Received a tax refund

We overpaid our taxes this year, partially due to overestimating our quarterly taxes, so we got a nice refund. We normally don’t get refunds so that was a pleasant surprise and a welcome addition to the maternity fund.

Negatives

  • Less income coming in

I will continue to bring in less income until September when Norah starts preschool. I don’t have the time or energy to hustle for more business right now.

Progress towards business goals

1) Increase my income by $10,000

I don’t want to say this goal is impossible for this year, but it will be difficult. I’m going to focus on achieving this in the last quarter of 2017.

2) Get another local client

I’ve begun the process of seeking out new local clients through cold emailing and word of mouth, but have not secured one yet.

3) Launch The Sturm Agency website

Hopefully, we’ll get something put together by late summer.

4) Launch my freelancer idea

I have not made any progress on this goal yet.

5) Sponsor something in the community

I’m thinking that sponsoring something in the summer or fall would be the best bet. It may take that long to get my business back on track. I was in a much better position when I made this goal in December 2016 than I am now.

Income Snapshot

This income came from a mixture of social media management, virtual assistant work, one-off organization projects, and content writing.

I may eventually share the actual numbers associated with my income, but for now I’m not comfortable doing that. I will be sharing this income snapshot to show a trend of my income throughout the year.

March 2017 Business Report

I’m pulling the curtain back on my small business!

In February 2017, I decided to start sharing my monthly business reports. In these reports, I discuss the month’s positives and negatives as well as progress I made towards my 2017 goals. I also give a snapshot of my earnings.

Things started looking up a bit in March although I feel like leads are slow everywhere. Some of my best resources for finding freelance leads have been very sparse this month. I also underestimated the impact that losing two major clients would have on my feelings about freelancing. I felt very defeated for most of the month and had a hard time getting in the right headspace to look for more clients. I do feel like this is a low point during my self-employment career, but I know that I will bounce back from it. I’m sure some of the feelings have to do with being pregnant, taking care of a toddler all day, and being exhausted.

Here’s what happened in March.

Positives

  • Hired a designer to redesign and rebrand Freelancing Mama

After spending some time looking at other great websites, I decided to hire Pixel Me Designs to create a new look for Freelancing Mama. I cannot wait to unveil the new look this summer. I’m redesigning my blog as part of my effort to monetize and grow this site. I’m finishing up an ebook on virtual assistance and hope to have some courses and other products available before the end of 2017.

  • Did project work for a former pitch

Freelancing is a tricky game. I applied for quite a few jobs in February and didn’t get most of them. I have a 10-20% success rate when pitching which is totally normal. One of the client I pitched for, who ended up going with another freelancer, contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing some research work. I took the assignment.

  • Was referred by a few people

I had three different people reach out to me based on referrals from former clients. I don’t know if any of these referrals will turn into gigs, but hopefully I will find out in April.

  • Negotiated a raise with a long-time client

I was able to negotiate a raise with a long-time client that helped boost my income a bit. I only spend about 10-15 hours per month working with this client, but every extra dollar per hour helps. If you’re looking to raise your rates, check out my post on how to do it.

Negatives

  • Less income coming in

I have not recovered financially from February’s client dropoff. It will probably take some time to get back where I was. I don’t expect to be at January 2017 income until after I return from my maternity leave in September.

  • Negative mindset and decreased motivation

I’ve had issues with feeling defeated this month. The combination of losing clients and the stress of my son’s approaching due date got to me. I spent some time on self-care and read a bunch of books in my downtime. Near the end of March I started feeling more optimistic and started putting myself out there again. Hopefully, things will continue to improve in April.

Progress towards business goals

1) Increase my income by $10,000

I don’t want to say this goal is impossible for this year, but it will be difficult. I have a lot of ground to make up from my lost clients before I will be at the “increasing income” level. Right now I’m trying to get back to where I was in January.

2) Get another local client

I’ve begun the process of seeking out new local clients through cold emailing and word of mouth, but have not secured one yet.

3) Launch The Sturm Agency website

Hopefully, we’ll get something put together by April or May. This goal has moved down on the importance list for now.

4) Launch my freelancer idea

I have not made any progress on this goal yet.

5) Sponsor something in the community

I’m thinking that sponsoring something in the summer or fall would be the best bet. It may take that long to get my business back on track. I was in a much better position when I made this goal in December 2016 than I am now.

Income Snapshot

As you can see, my income went down in March. I had no remaining payments coming in from the February clients and I didn’t add any other income sources.

This income came from a mixture of social media management, virtual assistant work, one-off organization projects, and content writing.

I may eventually share the actual numbers associated with my income, but for now I’m not comfortable doing that. I will be sharing this income snapshot to show a trend of my income throughout the year.

Overall, March continued on a downward trend, but I’m hopeful that the rest of the year will improve.

February 2017 Business Report

I’m pulling the curtain back on my small business!

Starting this month, I’ve decided to share my monthly business reports. In these reports, I’ll discuss the month’s positives and negatives as well as progress I’ve made towards my 2017 goals. I’ll also give a snapshot my earnings.

Although I’m starting the recaps this month, I have to admit, it’s been one of the worst months I’ve had since I started my business in 2015.

Here’s what happened.

Positives

I should have done this so much sooner! Within a week of adding an easy-to-use contact form to my Squarespace website, I received two client requests. Ultimately, one did not work out, but the other did.

I got a brand new client without the effort of pitching or self-promotion. I have always had my email address in a visible location on my page, but adding the Work With Me contact form made a huge difference. If you don’t have one, get one!

  • Raised client rates

I had two long-term clients (1.5 years and 2 years) who had not had a rate increase since I started working with them. My work load had changed and my experience had grown so I knew I needed to raise my rates. I wrote about this topic as I was doing it so saying “feel the fear and raise your rates anyway” was as much for readers as it was for myself.

  • Started regularly cold emailing

As you’ll read in my negatives section, I unexpectedly lost two clients this month. Although, this was a negative, it led to a positive. I began cold emailing local businesses and organizations on a daily basis. I set a goal of sending out five emails/messages per business day. I began this practice near the end of February and have not had sales yet.

  • Set daily social media goals

I know how important an active social media presence is for small businesses, but I’m often so busy doing client work that I don’t practice what I preach and put time into my own business. In February, I set the goal of following 10 people on Twitter and pinning 10-20 things each day. I’ll continue to up my social media game once The Sturm Agency site is live in March.

I decided to shift some of my attention to making this blog more successful. I enrolled in Elite Blog Academy and have started working on the lessons. I’m really excited to see where this takes me!

Negatives

  • Loss of two long-time clients

A client that I’d be working with since Zirtual days (August 2014) who was also my highest paying client, made a business change and no longer needed my services. The announcement was a bit of a shock, but I had noticed a slowing down in usage over the past few months. There was a sudden problem with paying my invoices on time. This client ultimately refused to pay me for my last month of service.

Although this is not the only client I’ve lost, this experience was a learning lesson for me on several fronts. I was given no notice that work was ending, but was simply told “don’t work from today on”. That day happened to be my birthday.

I also lost a client who decided to use another company. This client loss surprised me because we’d also been working together for two years. Unfortunately, I’d made a small error about a month ago that the client was very upset about. I have to believe it contributed to my dismissal. This client gave me a week’s notice, but then canceled payment three days later.

Here’s what I learned:

1) Always have a contract in place. I had never put together a formal contract with these clients and I wished I had. It may not have gotten me anything more than 30 days notice or an extra payment, but that would have made a difference.

2) Don’t have too much tied up in one client. I preach diversification and am working towards that model, but one particular client still held too much of my monthly income (around 45%). Their leaving caused me to scramble for new clients.

3) Don’t assume that small business owners or entrepreneurs will give you the same courtesy that they’d want. I was very surprised to find that both clients ended the relationship with very little notice and showed a lack of caring, respect and integrity during our final interactions. These clients are entrepreneurs who have fluctuating incomes based on booking gigs or securing projects. This experience made me vow to have a more compassionate approach should I ever hire someone and need to stop services.

Progress towards business goals

1) Increase my income by $10,000

The goal took a hit with the loss of two clients. I think I can recover from this, but it will be a bit of a struggle. I’ve had to look for more opportunities and ask for more subcontracting work in the meantime.

2) Get another local client

I’ve begun the process of seeking out new local clients through cold emailing and word of mouth, but have not secured one yet. I hope to have at least one new local client in March.

3) Launch The Sturm Agency website

I think we’re going to use Squarespace for The Sturm Agency, but I’m not sure yet. I really love the simplicity of it and because I don’t intend on monetizing the site. I intend on keeping it as a “business information only” site while maintaining Freelancing Mama as my blog and future monetization opportunity. I plan to get something live by the end of March.

4) Launch my freelancer idea

I have not made any progress on this goal yet.

5) Sponsor something in the community

Nothing jumped out as the right opportunity in February, but I will continue to keep looking for possible sponsorships in the Roscoe, Rockton or Rockford, IL areas.

Income Snapshot

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I may eventually share the actual numbers associated with my income, but for now I’m not comfortable doing that. I will be sharing this income snapshot to show a trend of my income throughout the year.

This income came from a mixture of social media management, virtual assistant work, one-off organization projects, and content writing.

Overall, it was a rough month, but I’m confident that March will bring better luck.

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