• Advice

Hiring a business manager saved my life

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

If you are like me, you love freelancing: love the flexibility, love your clients, love your work, and pretty much hate the rest of it.

You know what I mean--invoicing, chasing down overdue payments, filing, keeping track of receipts, prepping your books for taxes.

Hell, I don’t even like ordering office supplies.

Things reached a critical stage last year, in part due to an illness from which I was recovering. I was managing to get invoices for magazine pieces out, but I’d shunned my consulting clients, whom I charge by the hour.

Suffice it to say I had left tens of thousands of dollars on the table. Crazy, right?

Not even MONEY motivated me. It was pretty pathetic. I’ve had instances where I didn’t turn in expenses, but this was a certifiable crisis.

And oh, yeah, there was that little back taxes thing and some debt management issues.

Luckily, I found a business manager, Jen Hand, through a lawyer friend.

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First she tackled my mounting insurance issues, and then she set up a system for invoicing and tracking payments. I am thrilled to say I haven’t crafted a client invoice since.

Once we had an income stream, Jen turned to other aspects of my career. She helped me brainstorm about growing my practice, built me a website and digital portfolio, and kick started my blog.

Freelancing can get pretty insular, but now I had a partner I could bounce ideas off of.

We came up with new products (corporate profiles and video profiles for law firm websites), identified new clients to target, and planned passive income streams, such as an e-book for lawyers on the media.

We work together in my home office weekly, and it’s one of the most productive days of my week.

We share to-do lists, and she provides a summary each week of what she’s accomplished and suggestions for further business development. The knowledge that these things are being completed, and that I’m actually now optimally operational, frees me up for what I do best—think and write.

My motivation to work is once again at peak levels, and my work product has even improved.

We’ve been working together for a year and a half. The cost-benefit is undeniable.

Jen has brought in more money than I’ve spent on her (and I pay well). My productivity is tops, and I’ve gained a valued friend and advisor.

Unless you are an organizational guru, I recommend working with a business manager, or at least trying one out.

If she or he is as good as Jen, that person will not only help you streamline your operations, but also provide a fresh perspective on your growth opportunities.

Susan Kostal is a San Francisco-based legal affairs freelance journalist. She also has a consulting practice in which she advises law firms on marketing, PR and business development. For more on her practice and to check out her blog, see Follow her on Twitter at @skostal.