We’re continuing to share a different story each week of how a past student has been able to significantly grow their freelance business by applying the concepts they learned from Double Your Freelancing (check out last week’s with Anthony English).
If you feel your story would be a good fit, share why.
Glenn Stovall works with companies to deliver and grow custom web applications through development, project management and strategic advisement.
Unlike other developers, he builds focused plans built on metrics and business objectives. I.e. no developing features for features sake. Glenn’s company turned three years old on November 1st, 2015.
What got you into freelancing? Was it what you expected?
I spent a couple years in an enterprise software environment, leading teams that built software for universities such as Harvard and Northwestern University. I worked there until I realized that Dilbert is not a joke, but a documentary. Then I moved into a management agency at a small creative firm in Athens, GA.
In both jobs, we were completely beholden to what the client said. We were software building tools with a phone and email interface. “No” was not in the vocabulary of the project management or sales staff. This led to client’s not getting what they truly needed or seeing the results they wanted, and resentful production staff that would talk about “stupid client feature requests” behind closed doors.
“I figured it would be better to offer a service where it would be possible to work with the client instead of for them.”
We were the experts in the web application field, and instead of using that expertise to help our clients’ businesses in a meaningful way, we would be maliciously compliant. I imagine it was due to a fear of conflict, lack of confidence or some combination of the two.
After butting heads with other management at the agency for awhile, I decided to venture out on my own. I stayed on as a contract developer for a little while, which gave me the time to land my first client and the agency didn’t have to leave one of their clients out to dry when I left.
Freelancing was not what I expected at all.
“I originally thought it would be a lot of writing code, honing my craft and finally having time for side projects.”
Instead, my efforts went into learning about business development, sales, marketing, copywriting, project management and the art of listening and getting people to listen. Now I spend more time ‘debugging’ businesses and people than I do code, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Why did you decide to go to DYFConf?
Early on I learned the value of both education and networking. I had been following several of the speakers online through their writing and podcasts (Jonathan Stark, Kai Davis, Amy Hoy), and I was excited to learn more from them and get a chance to meet them in person.
I also knew that my #1 source of business was referrals from other freelancers. I figured that going would be a chance to meet more like-minded people. There are freelancers where I live locally, but few approach it the same way as the people who spoke and attended the conference.
Also I wanted to clink beer bottles with internet acquaintances. 🙂
What kind of impact did the conference have on your business?
Besides new friendships, the biggest takeaway has been focus.
I made some longer-term plans based on James Clear’s talk, by taking stock of all the side projects, marketing channels, “things to do someday” projects and deciding which ones would have the biggest impact on my business.
“I decided to focus solely on them and push everything else aside.”
Then in the small scale I’ve been applying what Ed Gandia said, “Have a process for focusing on critical tasks each day and get them done. Your entire business is made up of single days.” Learning how to get focused and be effective with my time on the small scale has been huge as far as overall productivity goes.
Lastly, having the focus of what I know I can provide to clients and how I get it done has made sales a breeze.
“When you walk into a client meeting with confidence and a plan, selling becomes fun.”
Before the conference I was doing some hourly work for an agency; after the conference I was able to sell a contract with a 100%, 4-figure upfront payment with almost no pushback.
What’s currently holding you back from being more successful?
The current challenge I’m facing is durability and scalability. All the systems and plans in the world can’t stop the flu or an internet outage. I’m still my company’s biggest bottleneck.
What would you like to accomplish in your business in the next year?
I want to be able to generate value (and selfishly revenue) without having to do all of the work directly. Next year I’m aiming to bring on some additional help and have 20% of my revenue be from products.
Glenn Stovall is a web development consultant that helps B2B tech companies expand their reach and revenue through growth-driven web development, marketing automation and product management consulting.
Stop by Glenn’s website and snag a free copy of Consulting Mother Lode, a set of resources geared towards helping you become a better consultant.