Top Systems Successful Freelancers Have On Autopilot
Level Up your freelance game with foundational systems to unlock productivity, efficiency, and profits.
What is systems thinking and why is it so important to success?
Systems thinking is an approach to problem-solving and decision-making that views problems as being part of a larger system to improve processes, reducing costs, and increasing efficiencies.
It's beginning with the end in mind.
It's visualizing the whole business, understanding the most critical parts, and having the discipline to establish simple processes to deliver excellent outcomes.
Simplicity Transforms Ordinary Into Amazing
Often times the most simple system(s) are the most effective.
Simple systems allow you to streamline tasks that are paramount to the operational success of the business, but may not be tasks that give you energy.
This allows you to be more productive and focus your time on the creative tasks that you do enjoy.
If you study people who are successful, you will see that all of them follow systems.
The people who use systems to achieve their goals do better.
A system can be as simple as a spreadsheet, a checklist, a habit, or the use of specific software to deliver a desired outcome.
It's the process.
You do ABC, with DEF, to get XYZ - consistently.
Time spent has nothing to do with job done.
Using systems is also another form of energy and time management.
How do you organize your limited supply of time and energy to get the best results?
Now, as a freelancer, the critical question to answer is, "Is this a generic situation that you are solving for or an exception / one off?"
If it is a generic situation that you will need to repeatedly do - like tracking finances, invoicing clients, and project management then using systems is the best method.
One of the often overlooked advantages of having simple systems is that once they are set up it takes very little time to maintain and optimize.
Like many things, the first step is the hardest and most time consuming.
But once the process is established, it unlocks huge operational advantages when used each time.
The 7 most critical mental models of systems thinking to understand are:
- Feedback Loops - These can be both positive and negative. Systems are composed of feedback loops that influence behavior and that changes in one part of a system can have a ripple effect throughout the entire system.
- Bottlenecks - These are constraints or limiting factors that restrict the flow or throughput of a system. A bottleneck can be a physical component, a process, or a resource that acts as a constraint, slowing down or limiting the systems performance. This can involve a range of strategies, including optimizing processes, reducing waste, increasing capacity, and improving resource allocation.
- Scale - This is the size or magnitude of a system and its components. Understanding the scale of a system is crucial for making decisions and solving problems within the system. Processes that work at a small scale may not be effective or efficient at a large scale.
- Algorithms - Is a set of instructions for solving a problem or achieving a task. It's the set of rules or processes that determine how the system should operate.
- Critical Mass - The minimum amount of material, energy, or other resource needed to sustain a reaction or maintain a process. It's the minimum level of resources, people or other elements required to make a system work efficiently.
- Irreducibility - The properties of a system are emergent and cannot be fully explained by undestanding each part. It highlights the complexity and interconnectedness of systems, and the need for a holistic approach to understanding and analyzing them.
- Law of Diminishing Returns - The quantity of one input increases, its marginal productivity will eventually decrease, leading to a lower overall rate of output growth. This helps to explain why increasing inputs may not lead to proportional increases in output.
To learn more about mental models as a way to think clearer, make better decisions, and sharpen your mind, click here.
Top Systems For Freelance Success
- Legal System / Entity: Successful freelancers are established as a legal entity, such as an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp. This system not only gives you personal legal protection, but gives you more credibility to land better paying clients. It allows you to write-off all the costs below as business expenses when filing taxes.
- Financial Accounting System: Invest in financial accounting software and have a professional set up chart of accounts for invoicing clients, tracking income and expenses, and reporting taxes. Some of the most popular accounting and invoicing software are QuickBooks, Freshbooks, and Xero. Automating your finances and having invoice templates to easily edit saves you so much time, makes you look professional, and allows you to stay focused on the creative parts of the job that bring you energy. Learn how to invoice clients the right way!
- Lead Generation System: Networking, pre-qualifying, and pitching clients all fall under the lead generation system. From knowing what freelance job sites to have profiles on to having a customizable pitch template with links to your portfolio. The most successful freelancers have a very simple lead generation system / process they follow.
- Cloud Storage & Sharing: Leveraging cloud space to organize, share, and backup files is perhaps the easiest and most simple system freelancers can set in place.
- Project Management System: Having a project management system to collaborate, communicate, organize tasks, workflows, and time track is one of the most valuable systems to have. Establishing a universal folder and file structure also falls under the project management system which saves vast amounts of time, energy, and frustration as your freelance business scales up.
- Digital Asset Manager (DAM): The most successful freelancers leverage digital assets of all kind. Simply put, this is an asset library. A folder of textures, graphics, templates, plugins, and resources that significantly ramp up the creative / design process. This allows you to start three steps ahead and deliver a higher quality product in half the time. Learn more about the untapped value of design resources in business and then browse our industry leading design assets, editing packs, and templates to unlock a competitive advantage.
- Reviews System: Capturing valuable customer feedback and reviews is the last system successful freelancers have on autopilot. As part of the process, after each project, they send an automated review email to google reviews or a trustpilot account that showcases their positive reputation. They then repurpose the reviews throughout their marketing material and social media channels.
To find the best software, apps, and tools for these systems, check out this post to level up your operations!
With these 7 foundational systems set up to support your freelance business, you will unlock productivity and profits at every stage in the process.
You will be able to protect yourself from getting scammed.
Pitch more leads and clients.
Bill and collect payment quicker.
Improve communication and collaboration.
And deliver higher quality work in half the time.
Leading to a dramatically better customer experience.
Which builds good-will, customer retention, and your professional reputation.
- Check out the Top 10 Things Successful Freelancers Do Differently, to gain a competitive advantage!
- Learn more about the untapped value of design resources in business.
- Find out How To Properly Invoice Clients and get paid on time!
- Check out the 7 Best Ways To Get Reviews + Examples and Templates
For more valuable info, tools, and resources for film directors, videographers, photographers, motion designers, video editors, and creatives - check out the Ultimate List of Filmmaker Resources, Glossary of Essential Film Terms, or all blog posts.
To Your Success,
Sickboat Creative Studios 😷🚤
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