When More Isn’t Necessarily Better: Goals for a Salesforce Freelancer or Independent Consultant
May 21, 2021
Setting up your goals as a Salesforce Freelancer or Independent Consultant should be one of the first tasks to do as someone looking to start their own practice. These are the kind of tasks a technical person might not feel inclined to do at first (or ever!), but it is important to have a roadmap of where you want to go, how much you want to earn, and how many hours you have to work to get there, is the very first step to be in business.
In the video below, Bradley and Erick share insights into what should be important, depending on what you’re looking to accomplish for yourself.
Don’t Jump Ship for any Salesforce Client
The big thing that catches most people by surprise is that rarely (if ever) a Salesforce Freelancer journey starts with an abrupt, cold-turkey “I quit my day job for freelancing” approach. The reality of it is that most freelancers start by finding small jobs here and there and grow their network and experience to a point where they can be financially secure enough to switch over: by having a good revenue stream and a decent pipeline of future projects to work with.
That said, do not quit your day job just because you found your first Salesforce freelancing client. When engaging with a client for the first time, you don’t necessarily want to get as many hours as possible. There are a few reasons why this is great advice, and the first one is straightforward: you might not like this client.
Take the time to work with them and see if this is even a client that you want to work with long time. You may find out half way down the first project that it’s not a good fit between both parties (for whatever reason). So avoid making rash decisions just to accommodate landing a single client. No matter how good of a project it is.
Which brings us to our second point.
Avoid Extremely Large Projects. Contract things out in chunks initially.
Stay focused on barriers to entry. You want to lower the risk of losing this opportunity you have, so you want to focus primarily on the tactics we’ve discussed so far: volunteering, proof of concepts, and now working in small projects at the beginning. This is crucial because as we’ve mentioned, you want to get a feel for the company you’re going to be freelancing/consulting for. Does each side meet each other’s expectations? Is this something you want to continue on in a longer term engagement?
Take this opportunity to earn a small win, with plenty of positives where if you do a good enough job, you will certainly be able to convert that into more work. But if it doesn’t work out, you avoided a lengthy contract that you’re obliged to fulfill with clients that may be struggling to have the same expectations that you have from this project.
Before we address the options in a bit of detail, we want to cover the importance to reflect and be clear with yourself with what you want to do with yourself. Be aware that there is a point of diminishing returns: trying to take up too much work on your own will eventually lead to burnout and a lower quality of work: you’ll find yourself overcommitted with too many projects at the same time. There’s just no way you’ll keep delivering awesome solutions if you’re gunslinging from one task to the other without time to properly think of the best way to deliver something.
Option 1: Scale Your Salesforce Consulting Practice!
The first option is the logical one: go ahead and scale. Find some help (whether offshore, nearshore, or in your same home country) and start building your consulting team as you continue to grow and take on more work. There is an entire series that one can develop talking about scaling, bringing in the right talent at the right time, and so on.
From almost 10 years in Salesforce Consulting, the best recommendation that can be shared is to focus on getting more projects. With money coming in, other problems are often good problems to have (and easier to solve). And in this option, working with Salesforce Account Executives is probably one of the best ways to move forward.
Be very clear if you want to pursue this option, and once you decide on it, hit the gas pedal and never look back. There’s a ton of work out there, and a lot of competition fighting for it. But the rewards can be huge.
Option 2: Set Your Goals to Managed Service Agreements
For anyone not yet aware, a Managed Service Agreement is a subscription service, where your client can get a certain amount of hours a month, and they sign a contract for a set amount of time (say, 6 months or a year). This is very different than the standard project proposal, that states an agreed upon scope of work with deliverables.
And without a doubt, as an independent consultant, an MSA is the Mecca of freelancing, as it gives you the economic freedom you might be seeking. It ensures work for a certain length of time, often easily renewed. If you lock them in a monthly contract, you’ve got a set amount of hours guaranteed for the length of that contract, and that is the basics of how you build your freelance company.
Most importantly, if you have 3-4 monthly services agreements, you are pretty much set. A job well done will ensure a very low turnaround in clients, and you’ll find yourself with little need to find other clients. You’ll eliminate the need to spend a lot of time focusing on the business development side, or even the financial side (less invoices, administrative tasks, etc)... giving most of your time to focus on your Salesforce work.
Like scaling a Consulting Practice, Managed Service Agreements are a topic for a series of videos on their own. Still, if you’re a Freelancer or an Independent Consultant and want to keep on this path, then this kind of service would be incredibly beneficial for your business. While you may not have a consistent pipeline of business, you will have a large degree of flexibility, and make a significant amount of money as a freelancer.
As you continue to grow you will find yourself at that fork on the road: that decision point that makes you determine if you wish to scale or not. And while it’s always tempting to scale (big rewards!), taking some time somewhere in your journey (but before that decision point) to think about what is best for you and how you want to proceed once you get there.
One thing is certain, trying to have the best of both worlds is a recipe for disaster, for you and your clients. The faster you have a clear path you choose to follow, the better it will be for you. So think about it, you may have some time. Either way, there’s a lot of pros to consider, and many people successfully adding value in their own way in the Salesforce ecosystem.
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