Today’s student success spotlight is with Thom O’Leary. It’s our hope that we’re able 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 Brandon Michals).
If you feel your story would be a good fit, share why. We’re looking for more features for April, so apply today!
Thom is the man behind Fixer Group Consulting, an e-commerce consulting company. He worked as a consultant for a number of years, then went full-time for two years, and has been in business as a consultant (again) for close to a year and a half.
“Thanks in large part to what I’ve learned from Brennan, I’m in a much better position to provide value to clients and to realize my value than my first time around.”
What got you into freelancing? Was it what you expected?
I had been a freelancer for years, but had taken a full-time position with one of my clients several years ago.
At the end of my contract, I decided to come back to consulting and “do it better” this time around. I set off on a quest to learn as much purposeful information as possible, which led me to Brennan and his courses.
“I already knew what to expect from freelancing, but what I didn’t expect was how a few key shifts in mindset can make all the difference.”
What’s been most challenging thus far?
Balancing “doing the work” – you know, the things I’m good at doing and the reason I went into business – with prospecting and networking for new clients. You can’t do the work if you don’t have the clients… but you MUST still look for clients even if you’re in the middle of doing the work!
Did you ever want to quit or give up?
Absolutely. What got me through it was simple: more outreach, more contacts, more selling.
Everything comes in cycles – sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down – but when you are consistently applying energy to something, there will be results. What helped me the most was appreciating a “small victory,” not as something insignificant to the big picture, but as an encouragement that I was on the right track.
“Little victories create a path to bigger ones.”
What were you struggling the most with when you ran into Double Your Freelancing Rate?
It was the capability of doing something, and creating an opportunity to do it (and get paid to do it). Brennan’s DYFR course created a framework that puts the client first. If you can listen to the client and understand what they need, then provide them with solutions, you win and they win.
The course provided both inspiration and an actionable structure to get from point A to point B. If you’re starting your own consultancy – or even starting something new in a different industry – that structure is reassuring and can keep you from spinning out in 20 directions.
The course helped me create a laser-focus on what matters in a consulting relationship. When you have that framework and focus, you go beyond “someone who has done a bunch of projects,” and you become someone running a business that provides significant value to clients.
What are some big successes you’ve had recently?
My biggest success was shifting from an hourly mindset to a project/outcome mindset. It allows me to “take the gloves off” for clients and maximize the value I provide to them without counting minutes.
“Also, time. I can take on four clients in the time I had previously devoted to one, and everyone is happier for it.”
It’s the difference between saying, “I’m going to read this book for exactly 18 hours” versus saying “I’m going to read this book.” If you’re counting hours, you may not get the full story – you might never know how it ends.
If you’re reading the book, you see the full picture and the full arc. You close the loops. Clients want you to close the loops – it’s just easier for most people to understand how hours work.
“It’s up to the freelancer to provide that bigger picture perspective.”
Do you want a client to get five hours of work, or to get EXACTLY what they want and need?
My biggest successes have been extremely happy clients that want to work with me more and more, being paid much better for the right results than if I were paid for timed efforts, and being able to use the efficiency I’ve gained with experience to benefit everyone (and not cheat myself out of money when I can do something in half the time).
What are some specific strategies, tactics or pieces of advice that helped you grow?
- Understand that many clients are used to being disappointed by contractors. Go the extra mile to wow them and they will never forget the value you provide.
- Follow-up (the right way). Want to double your chances to get a reply, close a project, get information you need and move projects forward effectively? Follow. Up. It’s been such a productive technique that I’m putting together an online course about it.
- Don’t be afraid of pursuing a niche. You can provide other services, but you should aim to “be known” for something specific. I just started this strategy April 1 and will be tracking my progress as a case study.
What are you most excited about for your business in 2015?
This may be super cheesy, but I see huge potential and that really has me excited. I am narrowing my focus on a specific niche – e-commerce replatforming – and building content around that specific piece of my consulting business. Focus is good. Focus is encouraging.
I’m also about to launch a free mini-course called, “Art of Fu: Follow-Up Greenbelt Course.” Following up is as important as “just doing it” and sending that first message – as long as you follow up the right way. It’s something I’ve been doing for years, and as a consultant it’s even more important. I want to share some of the secret Art of Fu knowledge about following up!
Being able to build a stable base of clients is also very exciting, and it’s something that makes me feel incredibly grateful. I work hard to give my clients what they need to improve and grow their businesses, and when I do it well, they give me the opportunity to do it more.
“Learning how to improve myself and my business from Brennan (and others) is exciting, because everyone wins.”
It can be hard to see the finish line when you’re starting out, or starting something new, but if you stay focused and look for the little wins along the way, you’ll get there.