Welcome to today’s Freelancer Chat, with Matt Welvaert from Lean Marketing. For new readers: each week I’m publishing an interview with a fellow freelancer or small business owner. The questions are the same each week, which allows for interesting comparisons between the interviewees, and concentrate on how people have started off and what they’ve learnt. Looking towards the future, each interviewee is asked if they would like to do a follow-up interview in a year’s time (everyone’s said yes so far!) and so we’ll get to see if the answer to the question “Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time” has come true.
Back to our current subject: Matt is another contact from the 4N networking organisation’s forums, and is a relatively new freelancer, having set up his business just seven months ago. Like me, Matt’s been soft-launching (starting his new business while working at a day job to bring in money to support himself) although he’s disengaged himself from his day job more quickly than I’m doing …
1. What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
Lean Marketing, January 2011.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I was frustrated with working for employers in the marketing industry and reckoned I could do a better job than many of the agencies I have worked for.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I have a degree in Marketing and 13 years of experience in the industry so it was a bit of a no brainer really. Plus, I enjoy the work and the changes and opportunities that technology is bringing about.
Had you run your own business before?
Yes, I dealt in second hand cars and was a freelance car sprayer in a previous life.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I had a full time job working for a marketing agency and started to promote Lean Marketing on a part time basis. When I had enough clients to cover the mortgage, I took the plunge and went full time with Lean.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
None of your clients will pay on time!
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I wish I had gone out on my own sooner, when I had fewer commitments to cover.
What are you glad you did?
Took the time manually to send around 300 emails to potential customers to establish my initial client base. This tactic got a 5% appointment rate and I have had a great success rate of converting those appointments into confirmed business.
What’s your top business tip?
Ensure that you have enough time to promote yourself, as well as doing great work for your clients.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
It’s still very early days but I’ve certainly grown in the last 6 months. I had to, as I started from zero! In terms of diversification, I’m doing more social media marketing for clients than I ever would have expected.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I’d like to think that I would have taken on a part time administrator, to deal with the day-to-day running of the business, whilst I concentrate on bringing in more work.