From side hustle to success: This photobooth company used HoneyBook to generate $.5 million 

HoneyBook helped cut my admin time by over 50% - Christiana Yebra

By managing her 360 photobooth business in HoneyBook, Christiana Yebra was able to save time and capture more bookings than before–ultimately helping her grow the side hustle to a complete success. 

HoneyBook helped cut my admin time by over 50% - Christiana Yebra

If you’ve ever had a side hustle, you might not expect to make as much as your full-time job. For Christiana Yebra, she was able to unlock that milestone in only four years by leaning into SEO and capturing client demand for photobooths with HoneyBook. 

Her 360 photobooth rental business hit .$5 million in revenue last year, and much of that wouldn’t have been possible without the ability to capture leads, stay organized, and book clients through HoneyBook. 

Explore Christiana’s process in HoneyBook: 

About Christiana Yebra and Currently Events

With a biology degree and a background in health care, you wouldn’t guess that Christiana Yebra has helped build and grow multiple tech companies and brands. But, she’s a great example of how entrepreneurship can take you in multiple directions and enable you to forge your own path. 

Currently Events - Christiana Yebra

Though she’s had success with multiple business initiatives, it’s her side hustle in particular that Christiana manages through HoneyBook, and through which she was able to generate an astounding half a million in revenue. 

In 2017, she was putting on events for various organizations when she realized that the most popular part of each event was always the photo booth, second only to the bar. She started renting out photo booths to bring to her events for about a year but decided to fabricate her own 360 photo booths in 2019. With her first custom booth, she didn’t have to rely on other people’s products. 

After the 360 booths got more and more popular at her events, attendees started asking if they could rent them for their events as well, and Currently Events was born as a photo booth rental and event strategy company. 

Her challenge: Creating a seamless experience for herself and her clients

When the company first got started, she didn’t have a brand or a booking process. At first, she was renting her photo booths through word of mouth and had a bare-bones Squarespace website with a simple contact form. 

She managed all leads through Gmail, used Quickbooks for invoices, kept track of events and meetings through Google Calendar, and used Adobe PDFs to edit and send contracts. The tools and tech were there, but it was all disjointed and nothing was connected–it was easy for things to get lost. 

After a few months of getting started, she noticed a viral social media moment where Cardi B was using a 360 booth at a birthday party. Immediately, Christiana jumped on the opportunity and started optimizing her website for “Cardi B photo booth” and similar terms. Optimizing for SEO worked quickly, and she went from receiving 2-3 inquiries per month to 50-100 leads per day. 

Currently Events website

The leads were coming in fast, and she needed a place to capture leads, store them, communicate with clients, set expectations, and create and store contracts. Plus, she also wanted to streamline the entire process for her clients as well. Sending them to six different tools was disjointed for her, but also unorganized and overwhelming for the clients. 

Organic search drove the lift for us, but HoneyBook has made sure nobody falls through the cracks. I could have never done that with Squarespace.

Getting set up with HoneyBook

After using HoneyBook as a client, she was impressed with how it demonstrated legitimacy for other businesses, and it was clear that it was the all-in-one solution she was looking for. 

After seeing HoneyBook, I remember thinking the business I was working with had their act together and was legitimate, and I wanted people to have that same feeling with us.

To get onboarded, she used the HoneyBook help center and watched some of the tutorials available. She set up all of her files and had a great start with HoneyBook’s contract templates

She only needed to use her business lawyer to tweak the contract templates slightly for her business so they included specifics about safety and weather at events. From there, she sent her files to friends and family and tested the client experience with them to make sure everything was set up how she wanted. 

Christiana’s clientflow inside HoneyBook: Qualifying up front and booking with all-in-one proposals

For Christiana, the client experience is everything. At events, she ensures her clients and their attendees are getting something different from all other photo booths out there. She and her team take the time to make attendees comfortable, and they actively focus on body positivity and inclusivity so everyone gets the best photos. 

With HoneyBook, Christiana can make sure that elevated client experience starts as soon as they inquire, not just at the events. 

Lead form

For Currently Events, a majority of their clients come through organic Google search. After leaning into SEO early on, they’ve been able to show up for popular search terms that people use to find 360 photo booths. 

Once users land on her website, they can use a HoneyBook lead form to inquire. Christiana and her team capture the leads’ general information as well as more details about their event, such as the event type, venue, and theme. 

Overall, having leads come into a central place is key for the business, and at times Christiana and her business manager can manage 20 leads per day within HoneyBook. 

Currently Events lead form

Automations

As soon as someone fills out her lead form, it triggers a HoneyBook automation. Leads receive a follow-up email that thanks them for inquiring, provides some general information about the photo booth rentals, and also asks “How big is your event?”

Asking this question after leads have already inquired is crucial to qualifying them. Christiana found that asking the question inside her lead form caused customers to say they were having a smaller event, even if it was bigger. By asking for their response via email, she can make sure they’re interested and get a more realistic response since they know it isn’t locking them into a specific price. 

Onboarding clients before HoneyBook could’ve taken me an hour or more. Now, once I have an interested lead that falls into my highly interested category, it takes me 5 minutes.

Using project details to create custom proposals

Once leads respond via email, she and her team go back and forth with them to answer questions and go over pricing, event needs, and specifics. After going over all the details, they create a custom proposal. 

With HoneyBook, the booking process is quick and easy. Her team uses templated proposals that they can easily duplicate and edit to include the client’s event details before sending. Within one file, clients receive the contract and invoice and can pay a 50% deposit to secure their date. 

Currently Events HoneyBook proposal

The results: Unlocking an extra $500k over 5 years 

  • 98% booking rates
  • 50% less time spent on admin
  • $.5m in revenue

Since the business launched, Christiana and her team have generated half a million dollars that she’s been able to invest back into her business growth

Christiana attributes much of this to HoneyBook, since she was able to capture all of the demand her company generated through SEO. She’s able to convert up to 98% of her proposals, which she also credits to the lead form questions and email templates she was able to create inside HoneyBook. 

The impressive business growth is also thanks to putting her time where it matters the most. 

“Before HoneyBook, doing a discovery call, answering questions, setting up a new customer manually, generating PDF agreements, and capturing payment could take me over an hour for each customer. And that’s if everything worked,” Christiana said. Now, it only takes her minutes. 

“When you’re booking 20-35+ events a month, eliminating some of the work before the event is key. The event itself is where we want to spend our energy. Paired with my amazing operations manager (who also loves the platform), HoneyBook helped me cut my admin time by over 50%. The more integrations and improvements we make, the better things continue to get.”

What’s next: leveraging a successful system for other business ventures

In terms of what’s next for Currently Events, Christiana is looking forward to implementing more post-event work via HoneyBook. For example, she’d like to easily thank guests, share their galleries, and showcase her company’s referral benefits at the end of an event. 

Like most entrepreneurs, Christiana also already has ideas for new ventures. When it comes to HoneyBook, she’s been able to benefit from the results of a well-organized system and clientflow for her photobooth business. Moving forward, she feels confident that she can use the same process for a new business that she’s working on. 

Centralize your client management

Capture leads, sell services, manage projects, and nurture client relationships from one platform.  All that and more with HoneyBook.

6 steps to scoping a project

People scoping a project with sticky notes

Scoping a project is essential if you want to succeed in client relationship management. This step-by-step guide will help you scope projects and deliver stunning results every time. 

If you’re new to scoping projects for your clients, it can be hard to figure out where to start. From outlining project objectives to developing a reasonable project timeline, there’s a lot that goes into a project’s scope. 

Knowing how to write a scope of work is only one part of the equation. Before you can get to that step, you first need a process for scoping the project in the first place. Let’s look at what it means to scope a project and dive into the six actionable steps to guide you through the process like a pro.

Jump to: 

Protect your business

Use HoneyBook’s ironclad contract templates to protect your business and clients. 

What does it mean to scope a project?

Some businesses scope projects in an informal way by simply discussing project requirements with their clients and creating a loose outline. But if you’re working on a larger project or with a higher-paying client, a formal project scope is in order. 

Why is scoping a project necessary? 

Scoping a project matters for many reasons. One of the top reasons to scope a project is to ensure that you and your client are on the same page regarding project requirements and objectives. Getting on the same page before you start working ensures you can knock the project out of the park on the first try, which prevents you from having to redo work while also satisfying your clients’ needs.

Scoping a project ahead of time also helps you prevent scope creep—that terrible thing that happens when project guidelines and expectations keep changing, making it impossible to stick to your initial timeline. Scope creep is frustrating for all parties involved. When your project keeps getting bigger and bigger over time, it’s nearly impossible to keep up. And if your clients’ standards keep changing, they’re likely to end up disappointed, even if you went above and beyond. 

When you scope a project ahead of time, there’s a document to fall back on when issues come up. If a client wants you to do more than you agreed to initially, it’s easier to discuss changes in your pricing and timeline because you have a document outlining your initial agreement.  

How do you collaborate with clients while scoping a project? 

Scoping a project can’t happen in a vacuum. You have to collaborate with your clients to get this right. Usually, you start by having a discovery session with everyone involved in the project. But you may find that as you work on your project scope, there’s some back-and-forth between you, your client, and other project stakeholders. Remember: Going back and forth in the beginning will prevent project creep later on.

Key information to gather

While it’s important to trust the process and keep the line of communication open between you and your client, knowing what information to gather up front can reduce the amount of back-and-forth you have to go through. Here are some of the key questions we recommend asking before you begin scoping your project in earnest:

  • What are your expectations for this project, and how do you plan to measure success? 
  • When do you need this project completed by, and how flexible are you on that deadline? 
  • What’s the best way to communicate with your team, especially when an immediate answer is necessary? 
  • What are the requirements for this project? 
  • What is your budget for this project? 
  • Who are the key stakeholders? 
  • Whom else should I be working with? 

6 steps for defining a project’s scope

Once you’ve collected information from your client, you can begin scoping your project. This six-step process will ensure you develop a project scope that makes sense, covers all project requirements, and prevents scope creep from setting in. 

1. Understand the project’s goals

Step one in defining your project scope is making sure you understand your project’s goals. Start your document by outlining those goals, including any key performance indicators (KPIs) you or the client plans to measure to determine whether those goals have been achieved. 

Understanding the project’s goals upfront does two major things: 

  • It helps you develop a plan of action to meet the client’s stated goals.
  • It ensures that when the project is completed, the client knows exactly what metrics to use to measure your success.

Think of your project goals almost like a rubric. By having something to measure yourself against, you eliminate uncertainty around whether your client will be satisfied with the work you produce. 

2. Outline the project’s deliverables and tasks

The next step in your project scope is for you to outline exactly which deliverables your clients can expect to receive. The more specific you can be here, the more likely you are to have satisfied customers at the end of the project. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, don’t just write “five blog posts” as your deliverables. Instead, consider something like “five keyword-optimized 1,000-word blog posts.” 

By being specific up front, you ensure that your client knows exactly what their budget covers. This allows them to ask for adjustments before you start working, which is key if you’re trying to avoid scope creep. 

3. Allocate resources according to your client’s budget

Once you know the budget you’re working with, outline exactly which portion of the budget will be used for each of your deliverables. If you’re working with other team members, this is also the time to outline exactly how much of the budget will go to each member of the team. 

The allocating-resources step is also the time to be realistic about what a client can afford. Adjust your deliverables, if necessary, to be in line with the budget your client gave you. Although few clients will be upset if you come in a bit under the budget, most—if not all—will have something to say about a project that goes over budget. If you believe that your client’s expectations are out of line with their budget, now is the time to have that tough conversation. 

4. Develop a project timeline and key milestones

Next, develop a timeline for your project, including key milestones. Ideas for milestones include when you’ll send clients a “proof” copy of the deliverables, due dates for when clients need to have information ready for you, and delivery dates for final products. 

Be specific with your timeline, remembering to leave space for unexpected events. As a general rule of thumb, set aside 20% of the amount of time it takes to complete a project as buffer time. This helps account for setbacks—from power outages to clients not providing information on time—without forcing you to change your delivery times or work late into the night. 

5. Identify key stakeholders, dependencies, and roadblocks

One of the biggest things that can set a project back is a project dependency. This is when one aspect of a project can’t be done unless something else is done first. For example, consider a blog post. The content can’t be posted until the writer has created the content and the graphic designer has supplied all of the requisite images. 

As you’re scoping your project, identify where your dependencies are. Also look for other potential roadblocks, such as key stakeholders who may want to voice their opinions at different stages. These are the places where you’re most likely to encounter problems along the way. 

Include information within your project scope about how you’ll handle these potential roadblocks as they emerge. For example, you might outline how long a client has to reply to a proof before you’ll move on to the next step. If they reply after that time elapses, you either won’t be able to take their feedback on board or will have to charge extra. 

Building these systems in before you start your project can save both you and your client a lot of heartache.

6. Provide a project scope statement to your client

The final stage of scoping your project involves sending your project scope statement to your client for approval. Schedule a time for you and your client to go over the project scope statement together so that you can be sure they understand the document completely. This is the time for them to voice any issues they have with the scope. 

Edit the scope as many times as you need so that you and your client are both satisfied with the end result. Then make sure you both sign the project scope statement. This solidifies the commitment to one another and gives you a solid audit trail if there’s a dispute down the road. 

Keep your project scope documents in one place with HoneyBook

Once you’ve developed a scope of work, you need a way to organize it, keep your key dates in mind, and ensure your documents are available if project stakeholders ask for an update. HoneyBook can help. 

As an end-to-end go-to client management platform, HoneyBook can help you keep all of your project scope documents organized and available at the click of a mouse. Business owners can create their own proposals that streamline the booking process by including contracts, invoicing, and payment processing. It’s easy to edit file templates and send them back to clients while collaborating on the final scope. Plus, businesses can maintain all client communication through HoneyBook and schedule meetings – all in one place.

Send professional online contracts

Use ready-made attorney-review contract templates on HoneyBook. 

Grow a seven-figure business with only one product with Natalie Ellis

💡The more that you can simplify, the more that you can amplify.

Business success does not have to be complicated. In fact, if you want to see genuine growth, the answer might be much simpler than you think. In this episode, we’re talking about how to become a master of one thing instead of doing everything.

Natalie Ellis is the founder and CEO of Boss Babe, a community of over 4 million ambitious women and female entrepreneurs, and the host of the Boss Babe podcast. Natalie walks us through how she was able to scale to seven figures with simply one product and one funnel.

The Independent Business podcast is powered by HoneyBook, the all-in-one platform for anyone with clients. Book clients, manage projects, get paid faster, and have business flow your way with HoneyBook. Use the code PODCAST to get 20% off your first year as a new member.

Follow the Independent Business podcast

Transcript

Growing a seven-figure business with only one product and sales funnel

Growing a business might not be easy, but it doesn’t have to be over-complicated to be successful. As Natalie says, “the more you can simplify, the more you can amplify.” 

Instead of trying to establish multiple sources of income within your business, you do have the option to focus on one stream. To do this, you need to have a “sales engine,” which allows you to make predictable, consistent, and scalable revenue. Your sales engine is the operating system of your business. Without it, you rely too much on guesswork.

There are three core elements of a sales engine:

  1. An amazing offer that has a product market fit
  2. A sales funnel
  3. A traffic source

First, start with your product. Is it something that people want to buy? Is your communication about your product clear? This includes elements like your product’s name and packaging.

Next, create a sales funnel that seamlessly guides clients to purchase. When they find your product, what do they need to know to feel empowered in their purchasing decision?

Lastly, you must have a traffic source. How are you bringing in clients and leading them to your offer?

Natalie’s sales engine is built around one $29 product, and she’s been able to scale her business to seven figures. If you get your sales engine right, you don’t have to overcomplicate your business.

Three types of traffic sources

There are three ways to find your audience: you can build an audience, buy an audience, or borrow an audience. Building an audience is when you utilize your own platforms to grow a following. Buying an audience is when you invest in ads. Borrowing an audience is when you collaborate with other accounts. 

There’s a misconception that you have to have a huge audience to sell a product. The truth is that you can utilize the other types of traffic sources to grow your business without a large following of your own. 

How to create an amazing product market fit

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What product are you best positioned to sell?
  2. How are you packaging your offer in a way that’s digestible, understandable, and appealing to your ideal client?
  3. How can I match my solution (aka my product) to my ideal client’s pain points?

A great way to figure out if your product is working is to beta-test it before you release it. Choose a small portion of your ideal clients to take your product for a test drive and offer you feedback on their experience.

Why business owners don’t see seven-figure success

If you aren’t seeing success in your business, it’s either because your sales engine isn’t working or you don’t have the right mindset. In order to scale your business, you have to be resourceful, willing to fail, and willing to try again. When you have a solid sales funnel and the right mindset, your business will grow.

Here are a few simple steps to improve your mindset:

  1. Reading more
  2. Listening to podcasts
  3. Going to therapy
  4. Hiring a coach 
  5. Joining a mastermind

Establishing strong sales funnels

As Natalie noted, one of the key components to success in business is establishing strong sales funnels. In 2024, Natalie’s sales funnel includes the following: 

  1. A viral and organic social media strategy
  2. Connecting with leads via ManyChat and sending them a link to a webinar
  3. Adding webinar sign-ups to an email sequence

Natalie sticks with webinars because they work for her, but there are many other types of conversion events. For example, you could do a boot camp, a challenge, or an in-person event. The key is to pick one type of conversion event and master it instead of trying them all at the same time. 

How to hire your first team member

As your business grows, you should promote yourself at every level. That means taking tasks off your plate that you can delegate to someone else so that you can focus on the next level of your business.

Think about the tasks that you don’t want to do anymore and add them to a job description. Don’t expect someone to do something that you aren’t already doing. For example, hiring a social media manager won’t fix your problems if you don’t already have some type of social media plan in place.

Spend plenty of time onboarding new hires, showing them how your business runs, and how they fit into the big picture.

Creating a freedom-based business

A freedom-based business allows you to choose what your day looks like. Freedom looks different to everyone depending on where they are in life. For some, freedom might look like hustling right now so that you can slow down later. For others, it might look like juggling a growing business with other priorities and being okay with growing at a slower rate.

To gain more freedom, your business must have a strong sales engine, solid systems, rhythms, and predictability. The key to achieving these things is utilizing automation tools and delegating responsibilities to other people.

The biggest differentiator between businesses that succeed and the ones that fail

Natalie thinks that the differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail is that the ones that succeed have resourceful founders. 

Important sections of the conversation:

  • [2:02] How to grow a seven-figure business with one product
  • [6:46] Three types of traffic sources
  • [7:27] How to create an amazing product fit
  • [10:55] Why business owners don’t see seven figure success 
  • [15:21] How to build a strong sales funnel in 2024
  • [21:43] How to hire your first team member
  • [26:36] Creating a freedom-based business
  • [31:05] The differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail

Resources mentioned

Connect with the guest

Episode Transcript

Step by step: How to write a scope of work

Two people working on a scope of work

A scope of work is a document or a clause in a contract that describes a job in detail, including the parties involved, lists of tasks, timelines, deliverables, and costs. In this article, you’ll learn how to write a scope of work that you can use in contracts and proposals.

Two people working on a scope of work

A scope of work thoroughly describes exactly what you are going to do for your client. The scope lists each part of your service as well as the materials used for the job, the steps you’ll take to complete it, the timeline, and the full responsibilities of each party involved in the project.

A good scope leaves no question about what you are being paid to do and how you are going to do it. It should set the expectations for everyone, showing your client what they’ll receive and when. It can be used as a reference in the rare case of disputes afterward. It can also help you to do a good job for your client so you get repeat business.

In this article, you’ll learn step-by-step instructions on how to write a scope of work, or SOW document, for your contracts and business proposals

Jump to:

Protect your business

Use HoneyBook’s ironclad contract templates to protect your business and clients. 

What is a scope of work and why is it important?

A scope of work is a document or a clause in a contract that describes what a service provider will complete within a project. Independent businesses can use SOWs to fully describe their work in a service proposal or similar document for their clients.

As part of your sales process, you can use detailed scopes in your proposals to show clients exactly what they can expect to see in the project. Seeing these details laid out in a document can help assure the client and make them feel more confident about moving forward and booking with you.

You can also include the project budget in your SOW, which the client can use for budgeting purposes. Finally, scopes can communicate to clients when they can expect the results of the job.

Once you have a contract with a client, a scope sets the expectations of all parties so there are no surprises. The client can see the project planning in detail. The SOW should detail what will be completed and when. At the same time, you have a plan of action written down that you can easily follow to get the job done.

Pro tip

Be very specific and detailed in your scope so your client is fully informed. Leave no question about how exactly you are going to do the project and when the results will be delivered.

What to include in a scope of work

You can include the following sections in a typical scope of work document or contract clause. They describe the job, the parties involved, the steps you will take to complete the job, the timeline, and the costs. Included are the timelines, materials, and any other obligations you have to finish the project.

1. Project title

This is the first element of a scope document. Write a descriptive title for the project.

2. Parties involved

Include yourself, your clients, and any other vendors or project stakeholders involved.

3. Project objectives

Describe the project requirements and summarize what you are going to do. If you are providing a service, indicate the client’s problem and the solution you’re providing.

4. List of project tasks

List each task step by step. Be descriptive.

5. Project timeline

List out each task and the completion date for each. Also, include the deadline for the entire project.

Will there be any milestones along the way, and will they require approvals from the client? If applicable, mention them and whether the client will be notified.

6. Project deliverables

Deliverables are the different components that will be provided to the client through your work.

7. Project costs

Note any costs that will be incurred through your work, including expenses for items such as materials that may be passed on to the client.

What does a scope of work look like?

Your contracts or proposals may not always look the same, but there will likely be some common elements. These include a scope clause among other common contract clauses. Your scope should appear early in your contract after the basic details of the parties.

Scope of work inside a contract
HoneyBook contract including a scope of work

Example scope

This scope is for a fictional graphic design business.

Title: Designing a new logo, one website banner image, and one advertising background image for [Your Client]

Parties: 

[Your Name],

[Your Partner],

[Your Subcontractors, if any],

[Your Client’s Name]

Project objectives:

To complete a new logo for [Your Client] and design new branding elements such as choosing a brand style with new colors and fonts on website images and advertising.

By the end of the project, [Your Client] will have a new logo and one website banner image that will get attention on [Your Client’s] website and packaging and one image for advertising that will get them noticed in today’s crowded market and stand out in social media content and ads.

All images can go through one revision each before final approval.

List of tasks:

  • Logo redesign
  • Website banner image
  • Advertising background image

Timeline:

  • The logo redesign abstract by June 1, 2023
  • The logo’s final draft will be submitted for approval on June 10, 2023
  • The logo will be completed on June 20, 2023
  • The banner image for the website abstract by June 2, 2023
  • The banner image final draft will be submitted for approval on June 11, 2023
  • The banner image will be completed on June 21, 2023
  • The ad image abstract will be done by June 3, 2023
  • The ad image final draft will be submitted for approval on June 12, 2023
  • The ad image will be completed on June 22, 2023
  • All images emailed to the client by July 5, 2023

Deliverables:

After approval, the logo and images will each be delivered as PNG files and SVG vector files in a zipped folder via email by July 5, 2023.

Costs:

All costs incurred by [Your Name] are built into the overall price of the project.

What can happen without a scope of work?

Imagine a construction project where contractors are trying to build a house without a blueprint or individual tasks. No one would know where to start or how to price out the cost of the house. 

The same is true if you try completing a project without first outlining your schedule, expectations, and boundaries. 

One of the biggest risks is scope creep. Scope creep is what happens when there’s no system in place for sticking to the initial scope of a project. Expectations tend to get larger and larger until a once-achievable project becomes a monumental task. As a result of scope creep, project managers may find: 

  • It’s impossible to meet agreed-upon deadlines because of egregious project schedule expansion, or they have to work overtime to meet deadlines
  • Customers are dissatisfied with the work produced because they expect more
  • They may have to charge clients more money than initially quoted, which risks alienating the clients, or make less money per hour worked than originally intended

Your scope of work also ensures everyone is on the same page about project expectations and payment terms. For example, a freelance writer might charge clients per word written. However, a project scope would outline things like: 

  • Whether they are charging for the exact number of words written (1043 words) or for a range of words (900-1100 words, for example)
  • Whether they count the words before or after any edits
  • Whether there are any edits included, and if so, how many

Having clear project boundaries allows your team to knock client expectations out of the water while managing time effectively. 

How to stick to your scope of work

Once you know how to write a scope of work, the next step is knowing how to stick to it. This means being firm about holding yourself and your clients accountable for the agreed-upon tasks. 

Holding yourself accountable to your scope of work

Once you have your scope of work, you are responsible for keeping the project moving — and that starts with keeping yourself on task. 

Start by outlining how long each project milestone will take you to complete. Remember to include a buffer window of about 20% of the length of the milestone. For example, if the first leg of the project will take you about five days to complete, give yourself six days. If the first leg of a project will take you about a month, give yourself a month and a week. This buffer time helps ensure you meet your deadlines, even when unexpected barriers pop up. 

Once you know how long each milestone will take you, use project management software to set up your timeline and create task reminders to keep yourself and your team on track. A good rule of thumb is to consider three reminders for key milestones: one when you’re supposed to start the task, one about halfway through the task so you can evaluate your progress, and one on the day the task is due. 

Pro tip

With HoneyBook, you can keep track of your project status at a glance and set up automated task reminders to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. 

Holding clients accountable to the scope of work

One of the most efficient ways to hold clients accountable for their portion of a scope of work is by including a written clause in your contract outlining the consequences of clients being late on their contribution. 

For example, if a client is supposed to provide you with information by a certain date and fails to do so, are you still expected to complete your portion of the project within the initial time frame? 

One option is to frame your contract so you always have the same amount of time to do work. For example, you might create project milestones, and instead of giving a particular date by which you’ll complete the milestone, you could instead say, “Within 3 business days of receiving X from the client.” This makes it clear that your ability to stick to your initial deadlines is contingent on the client sticking to theirs as well. 

Another option is to incorporate fees into your project scope. This way, the client knows that, while you’re willing to stick to your initial schedule, you may have to charge extra for your time if their inability to meet deadlines forces you to work late. 

Regardless of which way you choose to hold your clients accountable, it can be a good idea to set up automated email reminders when client deadlines are approaching. This pairs well with other established boundaries and shows you’re willing to take initiative while still holding them accountable to their commitments to you. 

How to use an all-in-one clientflow platform to send proposals and contracts

Ironclad contracts need to be clear and thorough. You don’t want your client scratching their head about what you’re going to do for them. One section of the contract that must be especially detailed, organized, and clear is the scope section. Scopes lay out the services that you are offering and the project details.

Scopes help your client because they get to see a detailed outline of every part of the job they are paying for. And a good scope helps you stay organized and on schedule.

With an effective scope, you and your clients can feel confident that you’ll end up with a successful project. You can count on a more organized workflow, less difficulty when working with clients, and a great client experience overall. 

When your client hires you, send them proposals and legally binding contracts with online software such as HoneyBook. When they can sign the contract, you will get notified so you can start working right away. Then use HoneyBook to send invoices and accept payments. It’s super convenient for everyone!

Send professional online contracts

Use ready-made attorney-review contract templates on HoneyBook. 

Do I need a contractor agreement?

People signing an independent contractor agreement

Independent contractor agreements are essential for sole proprietors and entrepreneurs in a wide range of industries. Not only do they protect you and your business, but they set expectations and lay the ground rules for things like payments and cancellations.

People signing an independent contractor agreement

If you’ve ever hired a roofer, handyman, photographer, or accountant, chances are that you’ve signed an independent contractor agreement. Moreover, if you’re a sole proprietor or entrepreneur who provides services, it’s important for you to have an effective  business contract of your own. 

A contractor agreement (also known as a freelance contract agreement) protects you from a wide range of risks. At the same time, they protect customers from being forced to pay for inadequate performance, waiting too long for the fulfillment of services, and other risks on their end. 

Learn how to create a proper contractor agreement so you can ensure you’re covered every time you start a new project. 

Jump to:

What is an independent contractor agreement?

An independent contractor agreement between a service provider (independent contractor) and their client (service recipient) is a contract that delineates the terms of the independent contractor’s work. Once fully executed with signatures from both the client and contractor, it becomes a legally binding document.

This document addresses contractual obligations, and the scope of work, and the deadlines for the work to be performed. It also affirms that the contractor is not an employee of the client. If a conflict arises between the two parties, the agreement outlines the path toward conflict resolution. However, that’s not the only reason to have an effective agreement. Others include:

  • Set goals and expectations: When you create your agreement, you’ll work with your client to set goals that work for all parties involved. 
  • Set payment terms: An effective independent contractor agreement sets specific due dates and informs the client of the types of payment you’re willing to accept. 
  • Display your professionalism: If you offer a professional service, your clients will expect to sign a professional agreement. Be sure your agreement fits the bill to make your clients more comfortable with hiring you. 
  • Set cancellation terms: Independent contractor agreements give you the ability to set clear cancellation terms. That way, your client can’t cancel out of the blue a day or two before a month-long finished product is scheduled to be completed. 

When do you need an independent contractor agreement?

Any time you provide contractor work, you should have a contractor agreement. But what exactly is contractor work? According to the IRS, you’re an independent contractor if “the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done.”

That means you’re providing contractor work any time you provide services to clients who aren’t your employer. That can encompass a wide range of activities, including but not limited to:

  • Writing 
  • Marketing
  • Handyman work
  • Roofing
  • Photography
  • Accounting
  • Website development
  • Lawn maintenance
  • Pool cleaning

The bottom line is that, if you’re your own boss, you should probably have an independent contractor agreement with your clients.  

People signing a contract for service

What should go into an independent contractor agreement?

Independent contractor agreements are designed to protect you and your clients. However, they need to include the right elements in order to do so. At the very least, your independent contractor agreement should include the items listed below. Keep in mind that your agreement may be more complex depending on the unique services you provide as well as your clients’ needs. 

HoneyBook contractor contract
HoneyBook contractor contract template

Party information

Agreements between multiple parties must include identifying information for everyone involved, regardless of whether they’re independent contractor agreements or other types of agreements. Independent contractor agreements typically have two parties:

  1. The party that’s responsible for performing the services is the independent contractor.
  2. The party that’s responsible for paying for the services is the client

Make sure to include the following for both parties:

  • Legal name: Use your name and your client’s name if your business is unincorporated. If you’ve incorporated your business, use your business name. 
  • Address: Use your business address if it differs from your home address. 

Some agreements take identification a step further and may record the last four digits of the client’s social security number, birth date, and other personal identification information. 

Scope of the project

The scope of the project defines key factors like the project goals, when the project is expected to be completed, and the specific steps you’ll take to complete the project. For example, if you’re a photographer, your project scope may include:

  • Attend the event for X hours and take pictures while it happens. 
  • Edit the pictures you took using Photoshop or another editing software. 
  • Provide a set number of edited pictures to your client by a specific deadline. 

Of course, project scopes will be vastly different across industries. Nonetheless, this is the area of the contract that defines what services you’ll provide to your client and how you’ll provide those services. 

Timelines

It’s important that you provide your services in a reasonable amount of time. However, what you and your clients consider to be reasonable may differ. Use your agreement to outline the timeline for each step of the process. Also, offer a clear timeline that encompasses the time it will take for you to fulfill your promises completely, also called the term of the agreement. 

Payment terms

There are few things more frustrating than waiting an unreasonable amount of time to be paid for the services you provide. That’s why it’s important to include payment terms in any contract you create. Your payment terms should outline the following:

  • The payment methods you accept
  • When you expect your clients to pay for your services, including any percentage of the payment you expect before you provide services
  • Where your clients can send checks and money orders

Communication requirements

There are some instances when having a written notice comes in handy. Your client may have thought they called you to make a change to the agreement but never actually made the call. If there are no written communication requirements, you may be forced to make changes to keep your client happy. 

On the other hand, if your contract requires changes to be made in writing, and there’s no written record, it’s clear that the client didn’t communicate their change request to you. 

Conditions for terminating the agreement

You’re a professional service provider, so you’re likely in demand. In fact, for many professionals, it’s common to have to turn potential clients away because you’re already booked for specific time slots. 

In these instances, same-day cancellations or short-term cancellations can cost you quite a bit of money. Protect yourself by setting specific time limits and terms for clients who wish to cancel their appointments. 

Terms and conditions surrounding arbitration, late payment, force majeure, and governing law

Be sure to include the terms and conditions for things like:

  • Arbitration: Will you use an arbitrator to handle contract disputes?
  • Late payments: Set specific repercussions for late payments, like late payment fees. 
  • Force majeure: Define what happens in the event you are unable to perform the services you’ve been contracted to perform. 
  • Governing law: Define which state’s laws will govern your agreement. 

Use online tools and templates to create your independent contractor agreement

If you’re interested in writing your own client agreement, you can meticulously make sure you include all the clauses and provisions you need to protect yourself and your company. You can even have an attorney go over your agreement to make sure you didn’t miss anything. 

On the other hand, you live in the age of technological innovation. Technology has changed how you communicate with friends, order food, and work. Why not let it simplify the independent contractor agreement development process?

Online tools like HoneyBook contracts make it easy to develop effective contracts from templates. Moreover, you can set them up as online contracts that your clients sign as soon as they book your time, streamlining the process for all involved.   

Use HoneyBook to automate booking and independent agreements

Independent contractor agreements can be real pain points for sole proprietors, entrepreneurs, and other independent contractors. After all, if you forget any important content in the contract, you could end up with a piece of paper that does little to protect you or your clients. 

Take the pain out of contracts and client bookings in general with HoneyBook. 

HoneyBook is an all-in-one clientflow platform for independent businesses. Beyond online contracts, you use HoneyBook to connect multiple steps in your clientflow. Have clients sign, schedule, and pay within the same interactive file. Automate your onboarding and offboarding processes. Track your cash flow in one place, and manage much more. 

Protect your business

Use HoneyBook’s ironclad contract templates to protect your business and clients. 

Disclaimer: The advice featured in this guide and on the blog is for sharing general information and knowledge. For specific legal advice, please consult an authorized professional.

How to send an invoice: small business guide

Woman sending invoices at a laptop

Learn how to send an invoice in 7 simple steps. We walk you through creating the invoice, sending it online, and getting paid! We’ll also show you how to send invoices as quickly as possible to get paid faster.

Woman sending invoices at a laptop

Ask and you shall receive. Well, not always. When it comes to getting paid as an independent business owner, first you need to know how to send an invoice. Sending an invoice is a concise, professional way to ask to get paid. 

Not just any document will do – you need to make sure your invoice is organized, easy to understand, and contains specific information. The message you send with the invoice also matters just as much so you can remind clients of your payment schedule and expectations.

We’ve worked with thousands of small businesses to perfect the art of sending an invoice. Here it is in seven simple steps to get you paid—fast.

Jump to:

Start designing your invoice now

Generate a free invoice template with your unique brand.

1. Determine your payment terms

One size doesn’t fit all, and the first step is to determine your payment terms. This means making choices about how you bill your clients. Your billing approach can vary depending on the nature of your work, project duration, and client preferences. 

Here are a few options to consider:

  • Upfront payment or retainer: Consider requesting an upfront payment or retainer fee before starting any work. This approach ensures you have a financial commitment from the client. It’s particularly useful for securing your services for longer-term projects.
  • Installments based on dates: Break down the project’s total cost into installments based on specific dates you set. For instance, you might request 50% upfront, 25% one month before project completion, and the remaining 25% upon project completion.
  • Installments based on milestones: If your project involves distinct phases or milestones, you can bill clients at each milestone’s completion. For example, bill 25% after completing phase 1, another 25% after phase 2, and so on.
  • Hourly billing: If you offer services on an hourly basis, consider billing your clients weekly or bi-monthly. 

The key is to align your billing method with your business model and your client’s preferences. Clear communication and a well-defined payment schedule will help streamline the invoicing process and foster a positive client relationship.

2. Create the payment schedule

The first step in sending invoices is knowing when to send them. We swear by the best practice of not starting work until you receive an upfront payment in the form of a deposit or retainer. Something to consider if you don’t already require one. 

In this case, send the invoice for the deposit immediately after your client agrees to work with you. This can be after they accept your proposal or sign your online contract. Once you receive the deposit, you can get straight to work. 

With HoneyBook invoices, you can automate the invoice to send automatically once the contract is signed. No more waiting for the notification that the contract is ready, then logging into your account to send—you can make it send immediately with payment reminders.

After this initial invoice, determine the best way to send invoices in the future.

Common invoicing schedules include:

  • Installments based on dates you assign (e.g., 50% due up front, 25% due one month before the project completion, 25% due at project completion)
  • Installments based on project milestones you decide (e.g., 25% due after phase 1, 25% due after phase 2, 25% after phase 3, etc.) 
  • Weekly or bi-monthly (twice a month) if you’re billing hourly

3. Include the right information

Invoices have one job: getting you paid. So don’t worry too much about making them sound clever or cute. It’s more important that the information is all there and presented in a straightforward way so that your clients have everything they need to pay you. 

What to include in an invoice:

  • Invoice title: Calling it what it is right at the top of the document makes it clear to your client that you’re asking for payment.
  • Invoice number: Stay organized by using invoice numbers as a point of reference to make sure you and your client are talking about the same invoice. They also ensure each invoice is unique and can be associated with a specific invoice payment.
  • Contact information: Ensure your invoice displays your business address, phone number, email address, and any other vital contact information. 
  • Bill from: Let your client know who the invoice is coming from by adding your details. 
  • Bill to: Include your client’s name in the “bill to” field so they know the invoice is for them.
  • Project details: Add which project the invoice is for and include an itemized list of goods and/or services with corresponding prices.
  • Tax: Put in a line for taxes you collect, if applicable.
  • Discounts: List any discounts that may apply and deduct this from the total amount due.
  • Total amount due: This is the total amount due after you include any taxes and subtract any discounts.
  • Due date: Always include the payment due date.
  • Acceptable forms of payment: Let your client know how they can pay you (more on this in step 5). 

Pro tip

You can assign each invoice its own number (just keep track of them so you don’t use the same number twice) or use invoicing software like HoneyBook to auto-generate new invoice numbers.

Example of a HoneyBook invoice

3. Use a professional invoice template

Save time and make it easy to repeat your invoicing process week after week by using business invoice templates instead of starting from scratch every time. Templates make it easy to remember all the fields you need to include and help you look professional. 

Instead of the time-consuming process of creating a new invoice every time you need one, all you’ll need to do is update your base template with the specific client and project details. HoneyBook allows you to do this with smart file templates—you can pull information from your client’s contract or a questionnaire so their contact information and services show up automatically.

HoneyBook invoices allow you to go from template, to custom invoice, to getting paid, in one seamless online experience.

4. Choose the best invoicing process

There are multiple methods to write an invoice and collect payment from your clients.  The choice you make impacts the efficiency and convenience of the payment process for your clients, so consider your options carefully.

  • Email Invoicing: Sending invoices via email is a common and straightforward method. You can attach a PDF or use an invoicing template in the body of your emails. While this approach is easy and familiar, though, it lacks some of the automation features found in dedicated invoicing software.
  • Invoicing Software: Using specialized invoicing software streamlines the invoicing process. Different platforms offer customizable templates, automated reminders, and secure payment processing. They also provide tracking features, allowing you to monitor the status of your invoices.
  • Accounting Software: If you already use accounting software like QuickBooks, you can generate invoices directly from your accounting platform. This seamless integration ensures that your financial records are up-to-date and accurate.

Invoicing software options

There are plenty of options for invoicing software, and it’s essential to choose a solution that aligns with your business needs. Here are some of the best options to consider:

  • Cash App: Cash App simplifies payment collection by allowing clients to pay directly from your invoice. It’s a user-friendly option for small businesses looking for a seamless payment experience.
  • PayPal: PayPal is a widely recognized and trusted payment platform. It offers invoicing tools, making it convenient for clients to pay online. However, it may come with higher processing fees compared to other options.
  • HoneyBook: HoneyBook offers professionally designed invoice templates that can be customized with your branding. It also provides automation features, making it a time-saving choice.

Think of your specific requirements and choose an invoicing software that not only offers invoicing options but also additional services that will streamline your business’s workflow and make your work life easier. 

5. Send an invoice email

Each time you send an online invoice, you should pair it with a brief invoice email. In the subject line, include the name of your company, the name of the project or client, and the invoice number. 

In the body of the email, thank your client for their time and collaboration and explain how they can access the invoice (by clicking a link in the email or opening an attachment, etc.) Also, reiterate the due date and payment options.

Before closing out your email, it’s always a good idea to remind clients of their total outstanding balance and pay schedule as well. 

Want to know how to write an invoice for email? Use the following email language below to personalize and send to your clients.

Copy/paste template:

Invoice email template

Hi [Client name],

Please click below to access your [Project name] Invoice #[invoice number].

Your current balance is [balance amount] and payment in full is due on [Due date]. Within the invoice, you’ll find both credit and ACH payment options. 

Thank you for your time and collaboration! As a reminder, your next invoice will be sent [Invoice date]

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding your project or payment.

Thanks!

6. Accept online payments

The best way to get paid after you’ve sent an invoice is to make it as easy as possible for your client. As of 2020, a majority of people are using digital payment methods, including credit cards and bank transfers. 

In fact, according to a study done by HoneyBook in partnership with Visa, 80% of clients prefer using a credit card to pay and 59% prefer debit. This is strong evidence you want easy solutions for taking payment straight from your invoice.

With HoneyBook, your client can pay you directly from the invoice. They receive an email with a link to the invoice where they can review all the invoice details and then pay with a credit/debit card or ACH bank transfer.

You’ll get a notification (cha-ching!) when they’ve paid, and you can also see if the invoice has been opened but hasn’t been paid yet.

If you’re still asking to be paid via PayPal or another payment service, you’re missing out on a better client experience with HoneyBook. 

Using an online payment software, you can offer more payment options via email so your clients don’t have to worry about downloading an app or logging in somewhere else.

Why asking for payment with PayPal is a clunky client experience 

  • When your clients get a paper invoice in the mail or an invoice attachment in their email, that requires them to navigate over to PayPal, enter in your payment details, confirm their payment details, and hit send (all without getting distracted first)
  • Additional $10/mo for recurring billing (like subscriptions or monthly retainers)
  • Payments are received in your PayPal account; requires 3 to 5 business days, on average, to transfer funds to your bank account
  • Adds one more system to manage in your business toolkit
  • Payment tracking is separate from the rest of your business management platform

Pro tip

All online payment processors take fees in order to cover the risk of processing a payment. The industry standard is right around 3%. HoneyBook charges 1.5% for ACH bank transfers and as low as 2.9% + 25¢ for credit/debit cards.

7. Track your invoices

With a clientflow management platform like HoneyBook, a huge perk is that you can see who’s viewed your invoice with read receipts. This helps you decide if you should follow up (if they’ve opened the invoice) or resend the invoice (in case they never saw it). 

Using a system that tracks your invoices will also let you know when they’re past due, meaning it’s time to send a payment reminder email.

8. Send payment reminders

In order to avoid late payments altogether, be sure to set up due date reminders as soon as you send your first invoice to a client. 

With the right system, you can set these payment reminders automatically as recurring emails so they always get sent close to an invoice due date and directly after if payment is late. 

Your clients won’t always be writing down their due dates, but 99% of people are checking their email every day, so these reminders are essential to getting paid as quickly as possible. And with more consistent payments you’ll have more consistent cash flow and be able to grow your business with better forecasting and planning.

Invoicing FAQ

How should I handle an unpaid invoice?

Explore strategies for following up on unpaid invoices, including sending reminders and imposing late fees for payments that aren’t processed by a predetermined date. Consider discussing payment plans or resolving any disputes through clear communication with your client before moving on to more serious matters.

How do I know when to send an invoice?

You should send an invoice based on the agreed-upon payment terms with your client, which can include milestones, project completion, or a regular billing schedule.

How should I handle invoices to international customers?

Specify the currency for the invoice and provide conversion rates if necessary. Be aware of any applicable taxes or import duties in the client’s country. Offer multiple payment methods, such as wire transfers or international payment platforms, to accommodate your international clients.

When should I apply late payment fees to my invoices?

Late payment fees should be clearly stated in your invoice terms and conditions. Typically, they are applied when payments are overdue by a specified number of days, such as 30 days after the due date. Ensure that your late payment fee policy complies with local regulations.

How can I handle disputes or discrepancies on an invoice?

Addressing disputes or discrepancies requires clear communication. Provide documentation and clarification when needed and be open to resolving the issue amicably. Consider negotiating a revised invoice that both parties agree on.

What should I do if a client requests changes to an issued invoice?

If a client requests modifications to an invoice, assess the changes and make adjustments if necessary. Communicate the revised invoice clearly and ensure that both you and your client agree on the final version before proceeding with payment.

Send invoices automatically and professionally

The last tip we can offer to master how to send an invoice is to set up business automation. With automation, your invoice process doesn’t have to take seven steps every time, and you can get more time back to focus on your business goals.

Automate your invoices to send to the appropriate client at the right time of their pay schedule, and follow them up with automated payment reminders. Just populate your automation with our invoice templates and email template, and all you need to do is personalize! Yes, you can thank us later.

Are you ready for your invoicing experience to evolve and take on the future? Join the multitude of businesses that have chosen HoneyBook for their invoicing needs. With HoneyBook’s powerful automation tools, personalized templates, and seamless online experience, you can manage client communication, invoice your clients, and collect payments all in one easy-to-use platform. 

Fast, reliable payments

90% of HoneyBook invoices are paid on time or early.

The secret to working less so you can make more with Shay Cochrane

💡Imagine full-time productivity while working part-time hours

As independent business owners, we sometimes feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get stuff done. What if you only had 16 hours a week to create a thriving and impactful business? What would you focus on? How exactly would you spend your time? 

Shay Cochrane, a commercial photographer, product stylist, and the CEO of Élevae Visuals, joins us to talk about how she has built multiple six-figure businesses while only working 16 hours a week.

The Independent Business podcast is powered by HoneyBook, the all-in-one platform for anyone with clients. Book clients, manage projects, get paid faster, and have business flow your way with HoneyBook. Use the code PODCAST to get 20% off your first year as a new member.

Follow the Independent Business podcast

Transcript

Building a six-figure business working on part-time hours

Shay started her wedding and portrait photography business straight out of college. While it was successful for a few years, a series of major life changes made it difficult to keep up with her business’s physical and emotional demands. 

Becoming a mom meant that she had to run her business in a new way that didn’t require so much of her, so she left the wedding industry and pivoted into commercial photography. While her new direction allowed her to own her time more than she could before, she still didn’t feel like she was successful as both a mom and a business owner.

Shay determined that she could only afford 16 hours a week of childcare, so she had to fit her work schedule into that time. She pivoted her business again and started selling styled stock photography. That business morphed into Élevae Visuals, a stock photography membership for entrepreneurs. 

How to build a business to fit different seasons of your life

If you want to be an entrepreneur for the long haul, you have to realize that your business will look different in different seasons of your life. 

One way to make it work throughout various seasons is to create a business that doesn’t solely rely on you. If you want to work fewer hours, you need to have a team that doesn’t rely on you to do their jobs. For Shay, that means that she has other team members that can shoot images.

If you want your business to work for you, you need to create the kind of business you’ll want to run in five or ten years. 

Why working fewer hours can bring in more revenue

Did you know that 80% of what business owners spend their time on is not related to revenue growth? That means that if you work 40 hours a week, 32 of those hours are not spent bringing in more revenue. 

Working fewer hours gave Shay a higher return on investment for her time. She had to make extremely strategic decisions about where and how she was spending her time. Her strategy to focus more of her available time on revenue-growth activities allowed her to make progress in a shorter time frame. 

Parkinson’s Law states that work will expand to fit the amount of time you give it. When you work 40 hours a week, your work will take 40 hours a week. On the other hand, when you give yourself a shorter time frame to work, your work will take less time to get done. 

If you aren’t sure how to fit all of your work into a shorter time frame, use this question from Tim Ferriss: If you were given a horrible health diagnosis and your doctor said you could only work four hours a week, what would you continue to do to create revenue in your business?

How to conduct an 80/20 analysis of your business

To determine the right amount of hours that you want to work and make it work for your business, you need to conduct experiments and analyze the results. You can learn how Shay does her 80/20 analyses here.

In an 80/20 analysis, you list out everything you’re doing with your work hours. Everything from answering emails to posting on social media to taking out your office trash should go on the list. Next, identify the things on the list that you have to do to bring in revenue and the activities that are not tied to generating revenue. 

Look at your list and determine what items actually need your voice, face, or a skill that only you can do. For this to work, you have to get rid of the mindset that you have to do everything to make your business run. What things could you delegate off your list? What things can you automate? What things can you stop doing entirely?

The entrepreneurs who win big in life, in terms of their health and their business, take the time to figure out this process so that they can work less and earn more. The key is to conduct an 80/20 analysis at least once a year so that you can reconfigure your work to fit into your available time.

What to do when you aren’t seeing success in your business

If you’re working hard in your business and the needle isn’t moving forward, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have a proven product that people are asking for?
  2. Are there other models of success for your product or business type?
  3. Out of all the products and services you offer, what is working and what isn’t?

Do an 80/20 analysis on your products to determine which ones are bringing in revenue and which ones aren’t. Additionally, look at where your leads are coming from versus where you spend most of your time.

From there, you can determine how to spend your time and whether you need to let go of some products in order to double down on the ones that are working for you.

You get to decide what entrepreneurship looks like for you

No one is going to sort out your business for you, so you have to decide what entrepreneurship looks like for you. You don’t have to be exhausted, overworked, and putting your personal life at risk. You can decide how much you want to work and how much you want to make and figure out how to fit your business into your life.

The biggest differentiator between businesses that succeed and the ones that fail

Shay believes that the biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail is discipline. Focusing on what you are good at and where you can win requires disciplined focus and action. 

Important sections of the conversation:

  • [2:11] Shay’s journey to building a six-figure business working only 16 hours a week
  • [14:00] How to build a business that fits into various seasons of your life
  • [16:54] Why working fewer hours brings in more revenue
  • [25:18] How to conduct an 80/20 analysis
  • [33:31] What to do when you aren’t seeing success in your business
  • [41:20] You get to decide what entrepreneurship looks like for you
  • [45:46] The biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail

Resources mentioned

Connect with the guest

Episode Transcript

Akua Konadu
as independent business owners, we sometimes feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get stuff done. But what if you only had 16 hours a week to create a thriving and impactful business? What would you focus on? How exactly would you spend your time? Well, today on the podcast, we get a glimpse into how this is done. Shea Cochran, a commercial photographer, product stylist and the CEO of Elevate visuals, joins us on the show to talk about how she has built multiple six figure businesses while only working 16 hours a week. Now this episode, we cover a lot, we talk about Shay’s story of how she started her business, the mindset shifts that we need to make in order to work smarter, not harder, and how to create a business where you are not sacrificing the things that mean the most to you. Che reminds us that the life and business that we truly want is possible. Now let’s get into the episode. Hey, everyone, this is your host Akua konadu. And you’re listening to the independent business podcast, more people than ever are working for themselves and building profitable businesses in the process. So on this show, I get to sit down with some of the most influential authors, entrepreneurs and creators to break down the science of self made success so that you can achieve it too.

Akua Konadu
Hello, hello, Shea How are we doing? I’m so good. So excited to be here. I know, I’m so excited to have him you’ve already just been chatting and laughing. And I’m just like, we have to record so we are nervous, never start. Right. And we just want to bring people in on the goodness. So I’m really, really excited for today’s conversation. Because I feel like you know, you have a really amazing story. You have built some successful businesses, all while working 16 hours a week, which is just mind blowing to me. But I’m excited to hear more of your journey, I know that our audience is gonna be able to take so much from you. So I’m really, really excited. So thank you for being here. Yeah. Thanks for having me. Of course. Okay, so let’s let’s get into it. Because I’m really curious to know, like, share with us what has your journey looked like? Like what inspired you to start a business, then you were able to build like multi six figure businesses, while working 16 hours a week? Like what what did that journey look like? Yeah,

Shay Cochrane
okay, so I’m trying to try to make it the shortest version of that story possible so that I don’t bore you. I have always had the entrepreneurial gene. So like, I was hustling things on the playground, like I was selling frozen Kool Aid and Styrofoam cups out of my friend door, growing up on a military base. So there’s an aspect of that, that has just always been in me. So when I graduated from college, I was like, I’m gonna start a business. I was interested in photography. So I did what you know, everyone who’s interested in photography does, you become a wedding and portrait photographer, because you’re told that’s the only way that you can make money. So I did that pretty much right out of college and did that for a while I did that pretty successfully for a few years, four or so years. And then post college when I started having we moved, we started having kids, it’s the middle of the recession in 2009. So I my husband loses his job, we’re in a new place new state 1000 miles away from family, new mortgage, new baby, and I’m trying to make the wedding photography thing work. But that is a very exhausting job. physically exhausting job emotionally exhausting job, especially when you’re also trying to be a new mom, I mean, going and shooting a wedding 12 hours a day, like leaving a reception at one o’clock in the morning just doesn’t really work when you have a baby in the home. So I found myself no longer creatively fueled by that work. And also, it just didn’t really fit with my season of life once I started having kids. So I kind of had a little bit of an existential crisis of like, I want to work I’ve got 1000s and 1000s of dollars of photography equipment, I’m decently good at it. I know I don’t want to do weddings anymore. We desperately need money. At this point, we’re on food stamps, like it was a really, really tight financial time for us. But I wanted to own my time differently. Running a business the way I did before I had kids, all of a sudden didn’t work when my life became very unpredictable. And you have little kids, you can have the best schedule, but it’s just best schedule on paper, but it’s very, very unpredictable. So my way of life as an entrepreneur before wasn’t working with my new way of life in that season. So it’s like well, what am I going to do and I dragged my feet for probably a year of getting wedding inquiries, knowing I really didn’t want to do it, but also knowing we needed the money also wanting to be done with that type of work. And eventually I just after a very long time, worked up the guts to say, you know, I’m I’m no longer going to be a wedding photographer. I really want to try my hand at commercial photography. So product styling product photography, didn’t know whether I’d be able to do it. i It was just kind of like a feel like that’d be fun. I like working with my hands. Maybe I could do this. But at some point, you know, I had to just decide that I was it was worth the risk, and that I was going to free up my time stop taking wedding stuff and in one fell swoop. I remember the night sitting in the living room with my husband, we’re watching I think it was like Biggest Loser. Remember that show? Yeah, that’s it, I’m doing it. And I like left the room and went to my office that at that time was in the guest room. And I pulled down in like 30 minutes pull down like eight years worth of a wedding and portrait photography portfolio, changed the like heading on the website to like commercial photographer. And that was it, I was committed to making that happen. So for the next few years, I did work as a commercial and product stylist and I got to shoot for really incredible brands I Simplified Planner, Emily Leigh was my very first client really, really beautiful partnership, I got to work for truffle bags, and pure Fiji skincare and sugarfina Candy, I was shooting for sugarfina candy for years and loved it. And I was able to own my time a little bit differently. But also knew around that time was when I was starting to feel the poll in my own heart that I didn’t do mothering and business ownership at the same time very well. And to be honest with you, I feel like that, in that tension, I really was missing out on my daughter’s life because I found myself resenting motherhood instead of resenting my clients and there’s this constant pull between like my, my new baby needs me but like, my clients need me and to be honest with you, you feel way more valued and important, doing like sending an invoice and collecting one and then nursing again for like the 10th hour that day. So I felt that tension really heavily when I was trying to balance both. And I just got to the point where I was like, I don’t want to live like this, I wanted to be a mom, I chose to become a mom, I don’t want to resent being a mom and what that requires. So I’m gonna have to change things. So that my work week and my life is aligned with what I say my priorities are and where my heart really is. So it was that plus being broke. Okay, so like stamps, barely able to pay the bills. I think we were making literally $500 A month as a couple because my husband was volunteering as a worship leader at our church and all that they could kind of give us like a $500 month stipend. And that was it. It was I could only afford from the money that I was bringing in to hire 16 hours a week of childcare. Okay, so now we’re getting to like, why 16 hours, I can only afford 16 hours of childcare. And I knew mentally that I really wanted to give most of my time to motherhood. And then I wanted to give like, okay, maybe I’ll give two days a week, slash that’s what I can afford to my business and building this business. I love being an entrepreneur, I love my work. I felt like I was relatively decent at it. So that’s when the challenge became, alright, how do you build a successful business? Multiple successful businesses in 16 hours a week? How do you even do that? So the commercial work morphed into, Oh, this isn’t serving my season of life anymore. I couldn’t just drop everything to fly to LA to shoot a catalog or to reshoot something, or to you know, I was shooting for some, like some celebrity clientele at the time, too. And it’s just kind of like, can you come tomorrow? And like the answer when you’re young mom was like, No, I can’t. Tomorrow, I don’t have childcare. So even that, at one point, like after a little while, it wasn’t working for me anymore. And so that morphed into creating and selling styled stock, because practically speaking, I was like, you know, I really just want to in this season of life with little kids at home, I want to be able to shoot whatever I want, whenever I want. And it be useful for female business owners, which was just a group that I really, really love and resonate with female entrepreneurs. And that’s how originally it was the SC stock shop. And then that has morphed and morphed and iterated and iterated into what it is now, which is elevate visuals, which is, you know, I just tried to pull all of my experience as a commercial photographer, creating images for a list brands and funnel that into an image membership, where any entrepreneur for a much lower price point could have access to the same images that the big brands were using the same types of images that big brands were using for the digital marketing. So that’s how elevate visuals came to being and I think I didn’t really I didn’t I never know it would be become a thing until people like Marie Forleo. And Jenna Kutcher and every girl were like using my images to promote their stuff, they’re using them on Instagram using them on Pinterest. And that’s when it was kind of settling in that, oh, I really have something here. And I, I really strongly feel like the world needs women to succeed in the marketplace and also succeed at home. But like, we need women’s voice and creativity and ideas in the marketplace. So I just want to use my skill set, which is just photography, to help them get their ideas and messaging out to the world. But I also don’t want to compromise, who I want to be as a wife, and a mom and a friend in my care for myself, my care for my family. So all of that to say that was such a long answer. But that was kind of the origin of the 16 hours, what it’s looked like, why I built it, how it’s morphed. And what it is today in elevate visuals, stock image and video membership. And all of that all along was just had to be built in 60. A week, I mentioned just kept because I can make man if I can do this, if I can make this a journey in 16 hours a week, I’m not gonna work more than that I want to I want to have a life. So it just I’d really intentionally tried to keep it that way, even when I didn’t have to, and my kids are old enough to go to school full time. And

Akua Konadu
oh my gosh, okay, I loved every second of it. So you were definitely not rambling at all, this was so impactful. And I just love just a couple of things within your journey. Number one, just highlighting how scrappy right as business owners like that’s something that you can’t teach, right? A lot of it’s just you have to wait, make it work. And you have to figure it out with whatever it is that you have, what you have in the current season isn’t enough, like you just have to make it work. And you did, but also too, you just pivot it every single time. And I love that I think we have a tendency to feel like, okay, this is the decision that we’ve made in our business. And this is where I’m sticking to right. And sometimes our life changes all the time things evolve, like, you know, again, evolution of who we are as a person, our values change, and every single time you adjusted and change things, and let go of things that were no longer serving you for something bigger, that was more in line with where your life was currently at at the time. And I think that’s such a beautiful thing as entrepreneurs, it’s like, how we started is not how we have to, you know, finish. Like there’s, there’s more than one chapter in our story. And just the way that your business has evolved just so beautifully. I mean, every single thing that you started has an even though you’ve closed one chapter, it has led and prepared you for the next which has been amazing to see as to where now you have these beautiful stock images that everyday business owners like myself can utilize. And so like the impact that you’re making, is absolutely amazing. And again, doing it 16 hours, is is wild, but also to the way that you’re honoring yourself and honoring them of really important relationships to you, I think is so beautiful. Because I say this all the time, like we are more than our businesses. And in order to have a successful business, we have to be able to also be fulfilled, be fulfilled in the relationships that we have in our life, the hobbies, you know, that we want to do, and travel or whatever those things, whatever that looks like for you, you have to honor yourself and honor of the people that mean the most to you in order to have a successful business. So I love how you continuously put being a mom or wife, friend, you know, putting those things at the forefront and shaping your business around that which just it just ties up so like holistically, just amazing which and I know it wasn’t easy to get there, right. It’s not an easy thing to do. But the fact is, is that you’re doing it and the fact that it shows that it’s possible for us to also be able to do that. So thank you so much for like sharing that because that wasn’t easy. Absolutely. So another question that I have is, what were some of the major lessons that you learned? Number one, how were you structuring your time? I think that was one and then two, what were some of the major lessons that you have learned while building your business in this way?

Shay Cochrane
Yeah. Okay. So I’m going to answer to two parts. Okay. Two major lessons. And the second lessons really, I think what will clarify the like, the 16 hours and what that can look like for the average person and what that look like, for me. I mean, number one lesson that I’ve learned in business, and now I’ve been entrepreneur for 18 years now. So longtime businesses look very different in different seasons. We talked about some of that. So I’ve done a lot of entrepreneurship. At this point. One of the lessons that I’ve learned is that I really don’t ever want my business to depend on me. I never want an owner dependent company, or an owner dependent brand. Now, that’s a personal choice that’s not prescriptive for everyone. And we know the power that personality brands can have. That’s a choice. And that’s wonderful. There’s nothing wrong with that. But for me, the way that I like to live the pace that I want to live at my circumstance It says my family life, the things that I prioritize. Having a team, that’s an owner dependent team doesn’t really work for me, especially if you’re only working 16 hours a week, right? I can’t be the bottleneck, they can’t be waiting on an answer for me, until I’m back in the you know, I’m like in office on Thursday, and then I’m not back in the office until Tuesday, I had to build a team that was not an owner dependent team. And I did not always do that very well, I’m still learning how to do that better. But I also very strategically, never wanted to build a brand that was dependent on me. So for example, now, I’m not the only one that shoots images for the catalog, really, they don’t need me, we’ve got amazing contributing photographers all over the US, even outside of the US. So that was just a choice. And that was, I think, a lot of times as entrepreneurs, we were kind of nearsighted. And we’re just like, I’m gonna build it with whatever I can do now. And I’m, I’m a big proponent of build the business that you want to have five years from now, or 10 years from now, because the the logic is, well, I’m just gonna do this, because this is what I got to do. And I’ve got a hustle, and it’ll all pay off later. And then I’ll adjust it later. It’s very hard to pivot later, it’s very hard to change your work habits to change the expectations of your clients or to change expectations of your team. It’s very hard to make that shift later, especially if you are seeing any measure of success. So I’m a big fan of building the business that you want to see later in your next season of life. Go ahead and build that business now. And so for me that look like it not being owner dependent. It looks like hiring people that are smarter than me, I know that I can only take things so far. So just having the mindset from the beginning that this cannot be about me my skill, my level, my ability, my knowledge, my availability, so making sure that it’s not owner dependent. But then the second lesson that I think has been the most powerful lesson for me as an entrepreneur, most impactful lesson for me, is, and I learned this accidentally, and that’s it limiting your hours is actually a secret hack for catapulting revenue growth is actually a secret hack for catapulting revenue growth. So how in the world is that? Is that even possible? You and I both know, because I know, you’ve heard this before that statistically, at 80%, of what you are doing as an entrepreneur, is almost a complete waste of time from a revenue perspective. Oh, that’s like

Akua Konadu
yes, absolutely

Shay Cochrane
gut punch, but statistically speaking, 80% of what you’re doing each week, expecially in the early stages of business, because you just you don’t know. So you’re trying all the things and you just you know, you’re really not sure what’s working yet, but 80%. So what that means is that if you’re working 40 hours a week, 32 of those hours are not really moving the revenue needle very much, right? That’s the 8020 principle, and only eight, eight of your hours are actually generating 80% of your revenue. Okay, this is crazy, when you really stop and think about it. So 16 hours, the forced limitation, because it was all that I could afford, because it was all my my business was bringing in when I started 16 hours, became a really powerful filter and catalyst for growth, because and I think my revenue grew so quickly because of those limitations. Because what what had to happen was that I had to identify the 20% of my time. So let’s, you know, 20% of 40 hours to eight hours. How would I make sure that that was generating the 80% of the revenue so really became a filter that allowed me to make better decisions about a higher ROI, a higher return on the investment of my time. And then think about it. If you cut your work hours, if this is just math, like you can 2x 3x 4x your business revenue just using this one tool, because if you took if you really identified what you would be what you’d have to do in eight hours to generate revenue or what what was the eight hours worth of work that 20% of work that was actually generating 80% of your revenue. And you say Shay, I don’t care I don’t want to work 16 hours a week are or don’t want to work eight hours a week, I want to work 16 hours a week, you can then double your revenue working 16 hours a week because you know what was actually generating the revenue and the First place, and you found a way to focus on just that. So if you want to work 30 hours a week, or you want to work 40 hours a week, but you know what that 20% is, and you can commit to just doing that finding a way to only do that 20%, then you’re talking about 2x 3x 4x 5x, you’re the revenue that you’re making with whatever amount of hours that you want to work. So that’s what I mean, by limiting your hours is actually in an incredible catalyst for growth, because it just forces you to make the difficult but strong, more strategic decisions about what is actually worth your time. Does that make sense? I mean, it’s just, I really firmly believe it’s not that you can make money in spite of those boundaries, it’s a you can actually make more revenue because of those boundaries of those visitors. It’s just like a mental hack or a revenue hack. Oh,

Akua Konadu
yeah, I mean, just instantly, because how many times I know myself, like, I never have enough hours in the day. That’s always what I’m constantly thinking as a business owner, is that I never have enough hours. That’s why I couldn’t get this done. But it’s true. Like, we are literally doing tasks that are not making us money. Yeah.

Shay Cochrane
And also, if you include is it, I think maybe it’s Pareto principle that’s like work will swell to fill the amount of time that you give it. So if you give yourself 40 hours a week, amazing, you will always have 40 hours a week. If you or more, you’ll never finish it, you know, like, but if you give yourself only 20 hours to work, you will have 20 hours of work to do, you will find a way to squeeze your work down to 20 hours. And I’ve just kind of tested that to an extreme. But you give yourself 60 hours you’re gonna make Well, I couldn’t possibly work less because I always have 60 hours of work to do well. Unfortunately, unless you’ve already done the 8020 analysis and dialed it and dialed it and dialed it, most of what you’re doing is not actually moving the ball down the field. Yeah,

Akua Konadu
oh my gosh, it is it’s that mindset shift. Because again, like I said, we always feel like we don’t have enough time in the day. But it forces you to number one have to really like you said dial it back, like really sitting down and thinking, Okay, what does this season of my life look like? And so it’s like, you can make money, no matter how many hours you’re working in your business, which is just it’s again, that that shift, like my mind is like, oh my gosh, that’s so true. And now I’m already in my mind thinking of these things that haven’t been serving me well in my business. So what do I need to maybe maybe not revisited right now, like in this season, if I’m trying to make this amount of revenue? What do I need to do to get to this amount of revenue in this season of my life? And I think that’s just so important. A great

Shay Cochrane
question to ask yourself, when you’re doing this kind of mental experiment comes from Tim Ferriss and the four hour workweek, he has this he sets up this whole situation where it’s like, if you that you were having all these health issues, and you went into the doctor, and the doctor said, you have a bad heart, and you’re gonna die if you keep working at the pace that you’re working. And if you you’re only going to be allowed to work four hours a week, if you could only work four hours a week, what would you do to continue to make revenue in your business? Alright, that’s a great question. Okay. What would I do if I could literally only work four hours? What would I do? So if you were a coach, for example, you probably have to be on the coaching calls, like that’s how you’re going to you’re that’s when you’re literally invoicing for right? And then he asked, he makes it even harder. And he says, Well, what if you could only work two hours a week? What would you do? So those are such helpful questions to get yourself thinking like, man, what is actually driving revenue? And what isn’t driving revenue? And then, you know, the question after that is like, Well, what do I need to do versus what can somebody else do so that I can make sure that I’m focused on the things that are actually bringing in dollars?

Akua Konadu
Yes, I love that. That’s so so important. And I think too, is just a reminder of, like, 16 hours worked for you. So it’s like, whatever hours for you, as business owners that were right, like, that is okay, I want to work 20 hours, like you don’t have to start it where it’s like, you know, really, really tight where it’s like, okay, maybe where you feel discouraged. It’s like, start somewhere. But I think that exercise of like, if I really only had to work four hours a week, because it’s true, like life happens in our business, things happen all the time, we have no control with how things are gonna play out. And so it’s like, preparing your business of what it’s gonna look like five years down the road now, I think is so so important. And I think that’s such a good reminder, because I know so many of us, like, when we’re especially when we’re starting our business, right? Or if seasons, you know, things have come up crazy, where it’s like, oh my gosh, like, what do I do and you’re in survival mode, you’re just trying to hurry up and make it to the next day. And we all have those seasons, but at some point, you have to be like, alright, like now, what can I do to make sure that my business is going to be here five years from now 10 years from now 20 years from now. And so as somebody you’ve been in the game for 18 years, I think it’s, I mean, it’s just a prime example of like, these are key things that you need to have in order to To build a sustainable business, really key mindset shifts that you need to have in order to build a sustainable business. So these lessons have been amazing. So, so helpful. And so another question is, is as you were experimenting, because you said that, like you’ve had to dial in and like, how did you know where to spend your time? What did that experimentation look like?

Shay Cochrane
Yeah. So that experimentation is a great word for it. Because it, it changed. I mean, the industry would change like the client, what the clients needed would change. So it was constant iteration, which we talked about in the beginning. But very practically speaking, I would do a literal 8020 analysis at least once a year, if not twice a year. And if you’re not familiar with what a 8020 analysis is, I, I do have a guide that walks you through, like how to do your own 8020 analysis, I think you can, it’s like how to work less and earn more, and it’s an elevate visuals.com/earn more. So this

Akua Konadu
will kind of walk you through that in the show notes. Yeah, elevate digital.com/earn

Shay Cochrane
More, that will walk you through how I did an 8020 analysis. But this was really critical, because that’s where you’re listing out. Everything, everything that you’re doing period, like everything from answering emails to posting on social media, everything, everything, everything, emptying the trash in your office, literally everything. And then you’re identifying for yourself what those things are, that are that you have to do to bring in revenue, meaning like, if you could only work four hours a week, what would you do? So when I was a wedding photographer, it was like, I would show up and shoot the wedding or I was not going to be able to invoice. So what is the thing that’s most directly connected to revenue, and then you’re learning is that you end up with a pile of like things that attract that are actually tied to revenue, and then things that are not directly tied to revenue. And then you’re kind of sifting through those things as well. What are the things that need my voice or need my face or need my skill set that only I can do? Now, this is where we got to stop, because entrepreneurs think that they are the only ones that can do anything right in their business, right? We’re so like, I’m the only one that understands I’m the only one who has the voice. I’m the only one who’s going to do it at this level. So we got to get rid of that mindset. There are people that can do things just as good as us, if not better. So yet, we have to be willing to delegate in order to move forward in this, you can’t think that it has to be done by you. But when you really look at what needs my voice, what needs my unique skill set, what needs my face, what can only be done by me, you end up with another pile of like, what do I have to do and what can be done by someone else, or automated, right? We’ve got so many automation tools now, or just deleted entirely. And that’s a Tim Ferriss concept as well, that’s that automate delegate, delete concept, but very practically, I was doing this. So the here’s the thing, this may not be new information to you all listening to this. But how many of you have actually done it? Right, we’ve heard about the ad 20. We’ve heard about the concept, we can maybe get behind it, I don’t know, maybe we’re a little bit skeptical. But very few entrepreneurs, or let me put it this way, the entrepreneurs who win big in life in terms of like their health, they’re thriving, and also when big in terms of revenue and business growth are the ones that have the discipline, to sit and actually figure this out, and then refigure it out, and then refigure it out, you know, six months later, and then do it like actually do it. So an example would be most, most online businesses need some kind of have some kind of digital marketing component, right, they’re going to be on a platform like Instagram or Pinterest. These can be really key lead drivers. So you’re like, Shay, that’s super important. It’s super important that I’m on there. If I’m not on there, I might not have clientele. But if creating image content, shooting, styling, editing, Canva designing or even the hours that it takes to go search for images online, Google search for images across various sites, that’s going to take up so much more of your time. And if you’re a coach doing that, what like we’ll use our same example. What do you actually really need to be doing, you actually need to be coaching. So that’s where you can delegate automate. In this instance, you can delegate content creation like that to a site like elevate visuals, where we’re going to create the images for you. And you’re going to save 10 plus hours a month that you would have spent creating content and now you take those 10 hours a month, and you do more coaching, like you do the thing that’s actually going to increase your revenue, or you invest in yourself in your skill set and you learn how to be better at what you’re doing so that you can charge more so that kind of I just I really had to to dial in, right, if I had to work, I didn’t have a choice, I had to work 16 hours, I had to really figure out what I needed to do and what I didn’t, and then be willing to automate, or delegate, or just say, I’m just not even going to do that I just can’t be on that platform. Or I just can’t do that great idea. I just can’t do it right now. So I said no to a lot of things I don’t do at all. I’m not everywhere. I never have been, I never wanted to be. But I think it’s the people that are really disciplined about figuring out what they need to do and what they can delegate to somewhere else to another resource, something like that, are the ones that really win and thrive at the same time. Which

Akua Konadu
is possible, right? Like, I think sometimes in business, we’re like, it’s either one or the other. And it’s like, no, you started your business, and you could have more freedom or, you know, focus on the things that are important to you, or, you know, improve your health, right, or whatever those reasons are, and you don’t have to choose because I always see, it’s always been a joke on like Tiktok, and Instagram, I’ve always seen like, oh, yeah, I left my nine to five only to work 20 472

Shay Cochrane
weeks off a year of vacation to know, weeks off a year, because you take your laptop with you, and you’re still answering emails on vacation, like, it’s so true, you go from like, working of commercial corporate job, to, to, for a boss to like being an even worse boss than your old boss was because you don’t give yourself weekends and you don’t give yourself vacations and you don’t give yourself evenings off. So it’s crazy. And I think I just, I want to be one voice saying, it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be that way. But you have to stop the forward momentum, frenetic momentum, that is entrepreneurship, right, you’re just like, late and behind. And there’s too much and I don’t have time to stop and think about what I need to do, I just need to do, you have to be willing to take the time to stop and rethink those things regularly in order to reset. So I would take something like the guide that we have, I would literally take and work through that I would take like one day, or once a year or twice a year, I’d go away to a hotel for the day. And I would walk through that kind of process. So that I could tweak and refine, tweak and refine, tweak and refine.

Akua Konadu
I love that though I think again, boundaries are so key, like really honoring yourself really honoring those around you of like, again, that discipline, like boundaries are what I think are just so important to be able to do a lot of what you do. And so, so, so key and so helpful. And another question I have is, you know, because like you said, I also want to add this too, because you said this earlier that this may not be new to people that are listening, we feel like as business owners that there is like the secret to being successful when a lot of the times like the answer is literally right in front of you. And it’s pretty simple. A lot of the times and I think to your point of just taking the time to actually see like doing those those key things of slowing down. Keeping that honoring yourself and taking that time to yourself is so so big, and it can help you just give you so much clarity that you need to be able to prepare propel you for your business. And so a question that I have is for the business like right, there’s so many of us, like if there’s businesses that are really struggling, right, and they’re like I’m spending all this time and I’m not seeing anything at all, I’m not moving the needle, like what would you say to some of those business owners?

Shay Cochrane
Well, that’s a complex question. Because if you’re literally not bringing in any money, then we got to go all the way back to like, is it a proven product? Do you know that people want this? Are people asking for it? Do you see other models of success? So there’s that whole side of the answer to that question, which is like, is it a good business idea? Or isn’t it I mean, maybe if it’s not working, maybe it’s just like flat out. And maybe the way that you could find that out is by finding someone in the industry who’s doing what you want to be doing and and learn from them, like pay them for a little bit of their time and figure out what it is that they’re doing that’s working and what the differences between what you’re doing so let’s that to the site, let’s assume you have a great product that you know that people want and you have at least a little bit of momentum, right people are buying it. That’s where it takes the discipline to say, alright, what am i How can I track the little things that have been working? How can I stop and an attribute that dollar came from there, whether it was Instagram or email or word of mouth, or you know, some SEO, whatever it is, I think if they can really fight that frenetic feeling of I’m behind it’s not getting done. I have to do all of it. Set aside a little bit of time to say okay, what is working like of all the products I’m offering, do an 8020 analysis Have the products you’re offering. Because the same statistic holds true for that, for products and services, 80% of your products and services are probably not generating any revenue, but 20% of them. And that might be one product is generating all the revenue that you’re bringing in. So if you are willing to stop and look at the numbers and say, Okay, well, I’m trying to do all this stuff, but the only thing that’s selling for me over here is is this thing. How could I? Or would you be willing to consider doubling or tripling down on just that product or just that service? And can you add 20, where all your leads are coming from? Maybe they’re all coming from word of mouth, but you’re spending all this time over here? And just be willing to do the hard and scary thing of doubling down and tripling down on? What it what is that thing that you can tell that is working and ignore the noise of everything else that everyone else is saying that you need to be doing? Or that you see everyone else doing? So again, there’s two parts to that it’s not, it’s not a one size fits all answer if you’re if you don’t feel like businesses working, but if business is working, and you can’t sustain this pace, which is, you know, probably a lot of people that are like, I’m exhausted, my marriage is struggling, I’m not the parent I want to be I’m super irritated. My friends say I’m always busy, I can’t, you know, like, I don’t have time for them, my health is suffering, I’m not eating, and I’m just like work is just consuming me, then those are the people that I really want to stop. Give yourself a day to figure this out, work through that guide. Really figure this out your life, and the success of your business really does depend on it. But it is possible to be more profitable than what you’re being currently by adjusting the things that you’re working on, and really getting smart about what you are putting your effort and energy and resources behind.

Akua Konadu
So good. I mean, just you’ve been dropping so many good gems throughout this whole episode. Oh my gosh, yeah, it’s like taking that time taking the day to just really sit down and break it down to see realistically where things are at. And I think it also really helps. And I’ve said this before, to where it just where it where you’re not so attached to the results, it really helps you look at your business objectively where like you remove the emotions out of it to really make those very strategic data driven decisions. And so when you feel like okay, I’m failing in this area, right, our emotions take over, especially if we’re not hitting our goals or meeting the expectations that we have for ourselves, when you actually just sit down and put it on paper, put it pen to paper, and doing some of these exercises, you’re like, Oh, hey, like, I deserve to celebrate myself here. Because even though I’m not meeting my goals, but this is going really well. So like, Let’s lean into that, let’s celebrate, but also to Let’s lean into that. And then how can we again, like hone in on it to make more to make more revenue. So I absolutely love that

Shay Cochrane
be open minded to what actually works for you. Like you just I know, we were like, I want to do this. And this is what’s gonna look like and it’s because we saw someone else do it or whatever it is. But it you may find out that there’s a certain there’s something else that you might be really good at within that. And if you’re willing to just be open handed about what business looks like you can build a really successful business. So an example that I have is a really good friend of mine, who runs an amazing website for moms who have lost children either in their stomach or new infant loss. Beautiful website, incredible resources. And it’s mostly a ministry like there, she doesn’t generate a lot of revenue from it. But she’s also a graphic designer. So that that’s called the morning the morning.com. She also happens to be in her past life, a graphic designer, and once a year, she creates these wall calendars for entrepreneurs to help them plan out their life. Let me tell you, those things sell like hotcakes like absolute hotcakes, and she can make money to support her the thing that she wants to do her passion work over here by selling a calendar on Etsy, mostly in January, like that’s when all those stuff comes in. So I think she could either say, Oh, my business is a failure. It’s not working. I’m just gonna, I’m gonna like work harder. Or she could say like, oh, this thing’s working like this little thing over here that I wasn’t expecting is actually working like how can I just be strategic with that little thing to fund what I want to be doing? So it’s it’s that willingness to also be open minded about what it might mean for you to be an entrepreneur and what you’re actually gifted at and what people actually want from you versus what you want them to want from you. What are the They actually want what are they actually buying? What are they actually asking for? Sorry, I could just ramble forever on this stuff. But

Akua Konadu
I mean, amazing, please write me this is, it is so good and so helpful. And I think a lot of people listening because I also like you’re just so relatable. I feel like there’s a lot of people that are going to be able to relate to your story in some capacity, and just see like, okay, these things are possible for me, I can build the business that I want, right? Like, it doesn’t have to look a certain way, be open minded, and just watch what will happen. And I think I just think all the time with my own entrepreneurial journey, the most monumental moments have happened to me all by just being open and saying yes, and I’m like, I don’t have the plan. I’m just gonna like, the universe. And we’ll just bring it to me, right? Like, I’m just open minded about it. And I think that can help you and just shape your journey so beautifully. And what you thought, what, what it would look like, I feel I swear, like, what will happen is 10 times way better. So I absolutely. And so this company has been amazing. So I really, I want to know, I want to know what some of your hot takes are on entrepreneurship, because you’ve already just given us so many different hot takes. I want to know if you have any more to give us. Yeah,

Shay Cochrane
I mean, listen, you get to decide what this looks like. You get to decide what entrepreneurship looks like for you. And unfortunately, no one is coming to help you like no one is coming to sort this out for you. Like if you are exhausted and overworked. And it’s not working, and it’s not generate revenue, and marriage is suffering and friendships are suffering. No one’s coming to save you like, that’s the bad news. The good news is you get to decide what this looks like. So if you only want to work five hours a week, then if you can open your mind to say not, oh, I could never do that I could never make six figures in five hours a week. Or maybe you don’t need to make six figures. Maybe you just be happy with two grand a month, two grand a month is not laughable. That’s a substantial life change for most of us. If you can you get to instead of saying there’s no way I could do that no one else does it like this. If you can get your brain to the place where you’re saying, you know, could I do that? How could I make $2,000 a month in five hours? Well, I could do this, I could offer this. I could try this. And maybe it’s within the business you haven’t maybe it’s not. But the point is the open mindedness and the willing the mind shift of saying, how could I do that? Alright, if you only want to work 20 hours a week, and you want Friday’s off, and you never want to have to work on the weekends, and you want to give yourself a month off a year being creative enough to say or open enough to say how could I do that? What would I do if I if that was how I what I wanted life to look like. And then you force your brain to get creative and to problem solve in that way. But you get to decide what it looks like for you as an entrepreneur. So all I did 16 hours is not a magic number. That was just my decision about what felt good for me so that I could thrive as a person, and in the other areas of life that are really meaningful to me, but no one is coming to help you figure this out. You have to stop and decide, but you get to decide and it can look how ever you want it to look. I don’t care what the standards of your industry, our I don’t care what everyone else before you has done. I don’t care what your competitors are doing. You get to decide what your entrepreneurial journey looks like and how you want to show up in it. And how much you want it to own you or not own you the possibilities. Today more than ever, in this moment in history more than ever, with all the available online resources to you. The possibilities are endless to be financially successful at home, or unlimited hours a week and also not sacrifice your soul and everything else to be a successful entrepreneur. So that’s my hot take you get to know once you get to decide what this looks like and really, anything is possible.

Akua Konadu
Oh my gosh, that was it was hot. But so good. And also to just when you were saying that I’m like, you get to decide like nobody’s coming to save you. But I was also like, that’s such a gift. Literally you get to decide and build your life the way that you want to and that everybody gets to do that. Right you get to do that. And so it is I think it’s it’s scary when you kind of hear of like, like, oh crap, like nobody’s coming to see me. And it’s like, we but I have the power like I literally it’s up to me like I can do whatever I want. I can shape my life however I want and I don’t have to answer to anybody.

Shay Cochrane
Yep, that doesn’t get it’s such a, it’s such a beautiful opportunity. It’s such a beautiful privilege that we have to be able to do that. Not everyone can do that. So take that opportunity to build the life that you really want. And don’t compromise on the things you want. It’s, it is possible. Yes.

Akua Konadu
Oh my gosh, che i have this conversation, I could talk to you for hours. And I’m sure if you’re listening, you can listen to her for afterwards. Because this has been so phenomenal. So inspiring. And I think so many tactical tips that we can take with as an implement to really start shaping and creating the businesses that we want for ourselves. And so a question that I always love to end with is what do you think is the biggest differentiator between the businesses that succeed and the ones that fail? Discipline?

Shay Cochrane
Easy? I have a quick answer to that one, if not the funnest word. But listen, it’s not your marketing strategy. It’s not your product. It’s not even whether your product is that good or the best? It’s it’s discipline, it’s disciplined thought discipline in your thought process, which is what we’ve talked about. It’s disciplined focus. So here’s what I can be good at, here’s what’s working, here’s where I can win. I’m going to, here’s the platform I can win on like it’s it’s disciplined focus, and then it’s disciplined action. It’s it’s one thing to know what you need to do. But we all know, as an entrepreneur, it’s a whole nother thing to sit down at your desk and actually do it actually do the thing that’s the most important in your day, and not email and not the other things, you know, to actually do it. So discipline, discipline, discipline, I think it’s a disciplined people who win as entrepreneurs, discipline, thought, discipline, focus, discipline, action.

Akua Konadu
Oh, my gosh, yes. Love to all of that. This was so good. I’ve absolutely loved this conversation. And just I appreciate your transparency so much. And so for people that want to connect with you, where can they find you?

Shay Cochrane
Yeah, so you can find elevate visuals, we are on only one platform, we are only on Instagram, you can find us there and get a feel for what’s in the catalog and be inspired. That’s at Elevate visuals on Instagram, do go download that guide that really is going to be a good kickstart for you to practically apply this set aside a day on your calendar, go do it. That’s it, elevate visuals.com, which is where you can find the membership. So elevate visuals.com/earn More is where you’ll find that guide. And if you’re listening, and you’re like, Oh man, I really I actually am on these platforms, I really could use somebody else creating images for me and I really could use like 10 more hours a month saved on creating content, then we you can use the code HoneyBook and actually get 10% off of the quarterly or the annual plans. So that’s a little gift for you guys. Yes, they check out yeah, check out what we’re doing [email protected] And just make sure you use that code. So you get a little a little bit of a discount there. And then I am on Instagram also only I’m only on Instagram. I only have time for Instagram and barely. And you can find me at Shea Cochran but I that’s a little bit more of a peek into my personal life. And I’m just love to connect with with people there as well. Yes.

Akua Konadu
Oh my gosh, thank you. Thank you so much. I mean, you have just poured in so much into our community for this episode. And we will make sure to have the guide in the show notes and absolutely the code. So definitely check out the membership. And thank you all so much for listening. And until next time. Thank you. Bye. That ends our episode of The Independent Business Podcast. Everything we’ve discussed today can be found at honeybook.com. Head for our website to access for shownotes relevant links and all the resources that you need to level up. And if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to subscribe to the podcast to make sure you never miss our future content. Drop us a review and leave our guests some love on social and thank you again for listening.

HoneyBook x Freelancers Union: Empowering independent business success 

HoneyBook x Freelancers Union

A partnership built on advocacy, education, and resources to provide ongoing value for independent businesses. From contract templates to SXSW, and more. 

HoneyBook x Freelancers Union

Independent businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy and the heart of their local communities, but they don’t have access to the same support and protections that large organizations do. To help fill this gap, HoneyBook and the Freelancers Union have teamed up and are excited to announce a new partnership dedicated to empowering independent business success. 

Both HoneyBook and the Freelancers Union are committed to making it easier for freelancers and independent business owners to thrive doing the work they love. The HoneyBook platform offers essential tools for client communication, contracts, payments, and more, all in one centralized place to make managing your clientflow simple and seamless. With less time spent on admin work, business owners can focus more on their goals and growth. 

Freelancers Union is a non-profit organization focused on advocacy, education, and providing services. They support over 700,000 independent workers nationwide with benefits that include health, dental, and life insurance, co-working spaces and professional development resources, policy change advocacy (such as Freelance Isn’t Free laws), legal and financial clinics, and more. 

Pro tip

Freelancers Union members are eligible for 50% off their first year of HoneyBook and will get access to a Freelancers-Union certified contract template at sign-up. Get started here.

Offering Freelancers Union members access to HoneyBook is just one of the many ways the partnership will strengthen each organization’s commitment to a thriving independent business economy. 

Protecting freelancers and independent businesses

One of the most shared values between HoneyBook and the Freelancers Union is the commitment to protecting freelancers and independents. Building a sustainable business starts with best practices that safeguard your livelihood. 

Freelancers Union advocates for essential protections, such as unemployment benefits, paid leave, and pay protections. By engaging with independent workers across the country, the organization can act with a united voice and fight for legislation and expanded working protections that make life better for all freelancers. 

HoneyBook spoke with Freelancers Union president Rafael Espinal on the Independent Business podcast about some of the most significant challenges independents currently face. Data collected by Freelancers Union shows that only 28% of freelancers always use a contract, which leaves the majority vulnerable to exploitation. 

HoneyBook gives business owners access to attorney-reviewed contract templates that help ensure their work is protected. By using HoneyBook’s online contract, businesses can set clear client expectations, avoid scope creep, ensure on-time payments, protect against cancellations, and much more. Starting each new project and client relationship with a contract is an important best practice that will protect your business in the long term. 

This is just one of many areas where HoneyBook and the Freelancers Union are aligned. Union members who join HoneyBook will get access to a Freelancers-Union certified contract template. 

Freelance isn’t free: the right to get paid 

Everyone can agree that fair work deserves payment—freelance is no exception. As simple as that may sound, the reality is often far from it. Getting paid on time and without issue can often be a frustrating challenge for many business owners. 

That’s why Freelancers Union launched the Freelance Isn’t Free initiative to fight for pay protections and provide business owners with a roadmap for doing the same in their local communities. 

Thanks to their advocacy, workers in New York City, Seattle, and Los Angeles can now count on 30-day payment terms, mandatory contracts, anti-retaliation, and more. The union also aims to expand these protections across the country. 

The longest invoice initiative also quantifies the amount of missing income for freelancers and independent workers. Currently, the tool shows that more than $1,000,000 is owed to freelancers nationwide, helping to spread awareness about the broad issue of nonpayment. 

When it comes to client relationships and individual projects, HoneyBook is similarly dedicated to getting clients paid. Along with contract templates that include payment terms, members can use HoneyBook to send automatic payment reminders and automatic late payment fees. These tools help eliminate the stressful task of chasing down payments and reminding clients what they owe. 

By partnering together, Freelancers Union and HoneyBook can better help business owners advocate for their rights, handle unruly clients, and get paid on time. 

Join the Independent Business Meetup at SXSW 2024

To kick off the partnership, HoneyBook and the Freelancers Union are co-hosting an Independent Business Meet Up at this year’s SXSW conference in Austin, Texas on March 11, 2024.

The meet-up will bring business owners together to discuss the all-important topic of getting paid. Focused on the Freelance Isn’t Free initiative, Rafael Espinal and HoneyBook Head of Partnerships Emma Radin, will lead a conversation about protecting your business, advocating for pay protections to your local government, and simply connecting over the challenges and triumphs of running an independent business. 

Gather with fellow freelancers to swap ideas, share learnings, and build relationships for the future. We hope to see you there! 

We’re just getting started

This is only the beginning of what is possible now that HoneyBook and the Freelancers Union have teamed up. With a focus on education and connection, the partnership will provide ongoing value to freelancers and independent business owners. 

Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities in the months ahead. 

How HoneyBook payment processing helps businesses save time and money

Woman using HoneyBook payment processing

Learn how to use HoneyBook payment processing so you can enjoy time and money savings that impact your entire business. 

Woman using HoneyBook payment processing

Payment processing is crucial for independent business owners–after all, it’s how you make money and keep your business moving. 

With the right payment platform, you can cater to a wider client base with multiple payment options and enhance overall client satisfaction. Efficient payment systems also enable you to get paid faster and ensure a steady cash flow for day-to-day operations and growth. 

HoneyBook offers reliable payment processing that enables you to build trust with your clients, encouraging repeat business and fostering a positive business relationship. It also helps you streamline your booking process with time savings and helps you get paid faster. 

Jump to: 

Get paid faster

Use HoneyBook to simplify your payment process—no more chasing payments. 

Generate professional, branded invoices 

The first step of using HoneyBook payment processing is setting up online invoices that you can use to bill your clients. 

Thankfully, this step only takes seconds thanks to the variety of invoice templates HoneyBook already has available. Within the template gallery, you can filter by your industry and view a variety of invoice and booking templates that other business owners have created. 

Pro tip

With HoneyBook, all of your important client actions can be combined into one file. That means scheduling, invoicing, payment processing, and more can happen in the same step to make your booking process happen faster. 

After you have the templates you want to use, simply save them and edit them to fit your brand and client needs. You can also always build your HoneyBook invoices from scratch. Whether you start from scratch or choose a template, you can pull from a list of your saved services, making it quick and easy to pull in your invoice details. 

Accept online payments in minutes

HoneyBook is all about efficiency for you and your clients. Whenever you send an invoice, your clients can pay directly through the invoice itself. There’s no need to add an integration, send a separate link, or provide instructions to pay on a different platform. 

With online payment software already integrated into HoneyBook, you’re able to offer a variety of payment methods such as ACH transfers, credit card, and debit card payments. You can also turn on the option for clients to add gratuity if that’s relevant to your services. 

On the client side, they’ll be able to review the invoice and payment schedule, then click to the next page to move forward with the payment. 

As a result, you can book clients in seconds instead of taking hours to set up your booking files, create client logins, and more. 

Offer seamless payments

Offer multiple payment options with HoneyBook and get paid directly through your invoices.

Enjoy some of the lowest transaction fees in the industry

Clients expect you to offer online payments, regardless of your industry. In doing so, you will be subject to fees–there’s no other option if you want to offer modern payment processing. 

But, that’s where HoneyBook can save you money in the long run. Starting at 2.9% + 25¢ for cardholder-entered payments, HoneyBook offers some of the lowest transaction fees in the industry. For example, Square starts at 2.9% + 30¢. 

Not only will you save time without having to find your own payment platform, but you can ensure that you’re getting the most out of every transaction. 

Stop chasing payments altogether

Imagine if you were to keep track of all the time you spend following up with clients about upcoming and unpaid invoices. Plus, consider the time you spend sifting through emails to find invoice and payment dates. It would likely add up to hours each week. 

HoneyBook payments include the ability to turn on autopay, so you and your clients don’t have to worry about upcoming payments. You can also turn on automatic payment reminders to give your clients a heads-up about payments, whether they’re automatic or not. 

Sometimes clients also need an extra push to understand the importance of paying on time. With HoneyBook, you can even turn on late payment fees so your clients will be charged 30 days after their payment is due. You’ll be able to set your late fee up to 10%, and clients will know about the penalty when you have payment reminders turned on. 

Track payment statuses and get paid on one platform

Even when you get paid on time, it can become a nightmare to make sure everything is tracked properly for accounting and tax purposes. HoneyBook easily lets you see payment status to see which are outstanding, due, and overdue, so you can always keep an accurate record of cash flow. 

Once you’re paid, it’s easy to access your cash quickly. If they’re ACH payments, it will take 7-8 business days to transfer to your account. For credit card payments, those will take 2-3 days. However, you also have the option to pay for an instant bank transfer to receive payments within 24 hours. 

Pro tip

Make sure you have your bank account added to your HoneyBook account so there isn’t any delay in receiving your payments. Just head to your company settings to connect your account.

Get fraud and chargeback support through a dedicated team

When money and online payments are involved, every business is subject to fraud and disputes. But that’s why HoneyBook has a dedicated team to help you when these issues arise and keep your stress level low. 

When it comes to chargebacks, HoneyBook will work directly with you to resolve disputes. A dispute specialist will communicate with you 1:1 to guide you through collecting evidence and even coordinate directly with your bank on your behalf. They’ll keep you updated as they work on your case and let you know as soon as there’s a resolution from the bank. 

You can also rest assured that your payments are automatically monitored for fraud to help prevent it from happening. 

Turn your payment data into actionable insights 

Once you’re accepting payments through HoneyBook, you can use your payments dashboard to easily view outstanding and paid invoices. You also have the opportunity to track expenses within HoneyBook and view your profit and loss. 

For enhanced accounting, HoneyBook also integrates with QuickBooks so you can ensure all of your financial data is synced and up to date, including payments. 

Pro tip

HoneyBook allows you to grant bookkeeper access so your bookkeeper can view your financial information inside your account, but not your specific project and client data. 

Invoicing, payment processing, and much more

Invoicing clients and accepting payments is just one piece of your clientflow. Before invoicing, you need a place to store and manage leads, a system to schedule time with them, and a platform where you can create and share sales collateral. 

HoneyBook does it all and more. Along with everything you need before invoicing, you can also create and store contracts and collect esignatures through HoneyBook. Once your projects kick-off, you’ll then be able to facilitate all communication through the platform and stay on top of project milestones and tasks. 

To fast-track your payments and save time managing your business overall, try HoneyBook. 

Smoother payments

Process client payments quickly and securely with some of the lowest fees in the industry.

Guide to lead source management and tracking

Reviewing priority lead sources

Understanding each lead source you have is crucial for gaining more qualified leads, and eventually, clients. Learn about six of the most common lead sources and how you can use a targeted strategy for each.

Reviewing priority lead sources

Winning new clients is a fundamental part of growing your business. However, the process of growing your client base is not always obvious for a small business owner. If you don’t know where to begin the client acquisition process, you can start by identifying where leads find you and determine which lead sources lead to more qualified prospects.

Lead sources can be tied to any of your marketing and advertising efforts. Here, you’ll learn more about lead sources, different lead types, and the best ways to identify qualified leads and convert them into clients. 

Jump to:

Capture leads quickly

Use HoneyBook to capture leads and book instantly in a single step. 

What is a lead source?

The first step is understanding a lead source meaning in order to know how to strategize to your advantage. A lead source is the path by which a potential customer discovers your business and engages with you. To become a lead, this might mean they offer their information in exchange for a downloadable worksheet, or they schedule an initial consultation. Part of your marketing strategy should maximize lead generation, which is why many of your lead generation sources will be the same channels you use to promote your business. 

There are a wide variety of lead sources. However, not every lead source will work the same for every business. It’s important to prioritize lead sourcing that will win your ideal clients in order to make the most of your marketing resources. To do so, you should understand the most common lead types and how they work. 

HoneyBook lead source report
HoneyBook lead source report

Why lead sources matter

Understanding your lead sources can transform your marketing campaigns by providing you with valuable insight into how and why your target audience is finding you. With this information, you can target your audience with messages that address the needs and buying intent of an ideal client. Identifying the most valuable lead sources can help you:

  • Focus your time, budget, and resources on the channels that deliver quality leads and generate a high marketing ROI.
  • Nurture your leads until they are ready to convert by tailoring content and interactions based on a specific marketing channel.
  • Create personalized marketing campaigns that enhance the prospect’s journey while shortening the sales cycle.

6 types of lead sources

Different types of lead sources align directly with the marketing channels you might already be using. Lead generation in digital marketing involves channels like social media, your blog, and your digital ads. Your leads can also come from traditional channels like print ads and word-of-mouth referrals, though these can be more difficult to track. Here are some of the most effective sources for lead generation.

Social media

Social media marketing is an excellent way to create awareness of your business. Channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok offer a great place to communicate with current and former clients, and potential clients can discover you and start engaging with your content. 

The best social media platforms for lead generation depend on your business. Here are different ways you could leverage some of the top social media channels: 

  • Facebook: One of the most broadly used social media sites in the world, Facebook allows you to target people by a wide range of demographics and makes sharing content easy. As a business, you can leverage paid Facebook lead generation ads or simply link your contact form on your page to capture organic leads.
  • Instagram: Since Instagram is an image-based platform, it works best for creative independents or those that leverage their personal brand to promote professional services. For example, personal coaches, designers, and photographers thrive on Instagram. Using Stories, Reels, and Feed Posts, Instagram gives you a variety of formats to promote lead magnets, then link a contact form in your bio to capture interested clients. 
  • LinkedIn: This platform is designed to help people build professional connections, which makes it ideal for B2B companies. LinkedIn could be a critical lead source if you provide services that make businesses operate better.
  • TikTok: This short video platform is hugely popular among a younger audience and has a strong algorithm to present people with content they’ll like. That makes it an excellent way to grow leads from an audience who’s specifically interested in your services. 

You can use social media for lead sourcing by linking to landing pages or specific lead magnets in your posts. In fact, social media is a great way to promote your lead magnets and digital products since you can repurpose them as short-form videos, infographics, or other posts that entice a download. 

Web searches

People rely on search engines to find recommendations. That’s why search engine optimization (SEO) is such a popular lead source. SEO helps your website appear higher in organic searches for specific keywords, making it more likely that your target audience sees your site when they search for a related term. 

By creating content for your ideal audience, they’ll be more likely to take action. For instance, as a graphic designer, you could publish a blog post about “8 Color Palette Mistakes in Web Design” that also offers downloadable color palettes. People searching for that advice might find your article and download your offer, thus turning into a lead.

Referrals

Referrals are one of the most valuable lead generation sources for entrepreneurs. When a client is happy enough with your business to recommend you to others, these referrals can automatically become qualified leads. Because your current clients already understand your value, their recommendations will include others who need similar services.

While you can’t force referrals, you can incentivize them. For example, many companies offer discounts to people who make referrals. If you offer a 10% discount for every referral that fills out your contact form, you can give current customers more of a reason to refer your company.

Advertising

Today, you can advertise both online and in traditional formats like print to reach your target audience where they spend their time. You can place traditional ads in trade magazines, on signs and billboards, or mail print ads directly to your audience’s addresses. These ads can promote landing pages with contact forms or phone numbers that people can call to learn more. 

Meanwhile, you can also create digital ads for social media, sponsored blog posts on other websites, or audio and visual ads in podcasts and YouTube videos. All of these can include links to pages or contact forms that will help you gather specific lead information. 

If you’re running different campaigns for your lead generation efforts, just be sure they’re set up properly to track. 

Emails

Email marketing can deliver offers and promotions directly to qualified leads’ inboxes. However, the content in your emails needs to be valuable to your email list, or they’re unlikely to remain subscribed. 

To generate leads, it’s best to nurture your audience with education first. If you spend the time to support your audience’s needs by teaching them useful information, you’ll build trust and loyalty. That’s when you can begin introducing them to products in your emails as solutions to their problems, generating valuable leads.

Events

Live events have always been a great way to meet potential customers. Event lead sources can include trade events, interviews, open houses, and conferences. After the pandemic, virtual events like online Q&As can be just as valuable. 

Anything your target audience can attend virtually or in person can become a valuable lead source. You can hand out business cards with links to contact forms or take down lead information directly. If you make yourself available during and after the event, you may even be able to convert a qualified lead on the spot.

How to identify priority lead sources

With so many lead sources available to you, it’s unlikely they will all equally benefit your business. For that reason, investing all your time and effort into every lead source may stretch your marketing budget without getting results. The solution is to identify your priority lead generation sources and invest your resources there. 

A priority lead source isn’t just about which one gets the most engagement. You’ll need to evaluate which one generates the highest number of leads that are also qualified and convert at a higher rate. For instance, you might get a lot of results from organic search, but maybe those leads aren’t targeted enough and aren’t converting.

On the other hand, you may get fewer leads from Instagram, but perhaps they convert at a higher rate. In this case, you should invest more heavily into Instagram, and rethink your SEO strategy to generate more targeted leads. 

Lead source tracking

Evaluating your leads isn’t possible to do manually. In order to know which lead source is performing the best and bringing you the most leads, you need to do continuous lead source tracking. HoneyBook offers a lead source report directly associated with your contact forms. Meaning after someone fills in the form on your site, this report can tell you where they came from, which will help answer your question of which lead source is performing best. You can use the contact form across channels, so you won’t miss out on valuable information. 

Even better, HoneyBook offers AI capabilities that automatically notify you when you have a priority lead. Using the information your leads provide via the HoneyBook contact form as well as your business data, you’ll receive a push notification whenever you have a lead who’s more likely to book and/or has a higher budget. You can take the guesswork out of identifying your priority leads so you can reach them and start client onboarding faster!

How to build strategies for every lead source

Once you’ve identified the priority lead sources for your business, it’s time to strategize how you can make the most of them. The best way to create a strategy for each lead source is to consider the buyer’s journey. 

The buyer’s journey is the path a customer takes from first learning about your business to actually making a purchase and booking with you. Every lead source supports a unique buyer’s journey. For example, someone who found your company through a search engine will have a very different approach than someone who was referred by a friend. 

To build a successful strategy for a specific lead source, work your way through the buyer’s journey for that source:

  • Awareness Stage: The lead becomes aware that they have a problem they need to solve.
  • Consideration Stage: The lead considers options to solve their problem.
  • Decision Stage: The lead decides how to solve the problem, becoming a client.

You can generate leads in both the awareness and consideration stages. For example, with advertising and social media, you can highlight pain points for your target audience. Meanwhile, with your email newsletter and referrals, you can target people who already know they have a problem and are considering how to solve it.

As you’re strategizing, you’ll also need to ask yourself two significant questions: 

  • What does the potential customer know about your business? Advertising leads may only know that you offer specific services, while referral leads know what you do and that you’re trusted by people they know.
  • What do they need to know to convert? An advertising lead will likely need more information to convert than a referral lead because of how they learned about your business.

By understanding how leads learn about your business and where they are in their buyer’s journey, you can build a marketing strategy to help you win potential clients more effectively. 

Start winning new clients by focusing on priority lead sources

Understanding your lead sources allows you to make better marketing and customer acquisition decisions. With a clientflow management platform like HoneyBook, you can uncover your priority lead sources, so you know exactly where to focus your attention. Understanding where your customers are coming from and allocating resources effectively, ultimately maximizes your marketing ROI. This will help you gain new clients and keep your business growing with less stress.

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