Damien’s Virtual Dream Team

Damien GoldenI just reviewed our end of year earnings for 2013 and I’m so excited, I might pee my pants! What? That’s not how you feel when  you view your year-end  financials?

It’s a first for me too. But we’ve grown over 80% the last two years and if we grow even half as much over the next two years, our billables could be over a million dollars for 2015.

I’m not bragging. Okay, just a little, but I didn’t build my business by myself, so technically I am bragging about my team, my virtual dream team!

Let me back up a little. It wasn’t always great revenue and clients for me. I was laid off in 2006 and I wasn’t surprised, nor was this my first layoff. In fact, I was laid off from my very first job out of college. I know, many of you, my creative colleagues have experienced lay-offs, including Ilise Benun – so you are in very good company. I realized from then on, someone is always in control. Is it going to be me or is it going to be someone else?

An amazing thing happens when you take the reins of your financial future instead of relying on someone else with his/her own agenda or the whims of the industry you happen to find yourself in.

If you decide to take the reins, you call the shots, you take the punches, but best of all… you reap the rewards.

In the beginning my dreams weren’t that big – pay some bills, put food on the table and maybe have a little more money left over at the end of the month. Then as my business grew, I wanted a savings account, to own my own home and to start getting help. Luckily my husband had a marketing background, industry experience in our niche, an incredible creative eye and I could get him cheap – ha! (Don’t worry, he makes out pretty good now.)

I knew I needed to build a virtual dream team because I wanted to keep overhead down, have a flexible schedule and control the direction of my business.

With a virtual team, my partners (other freelancers!) can live anywhere, work from anywhere and keep the hours that match their lifestyle the best. With a few simple contracts and agreements in place, we’re all on the same page with expectations and rates. (BTW, at the Creative Freelancer Business Conference in May 2014 in Boston, you’ll hear a panel of virtual team members sharing the pros and cons for anyone who’s considering it.)

Not sure if a virtual team is for you? I wasn’t either. But when I wrote down my personal and business goals, I learned I couldn’t rely on my time alone to afford me the luxuries I wanted out of life.

So, I ask you, what is your why? Why are you a solo-preneur, freelancer, or contractor? What are your dreams and goals? Where is your list? Can’t identify? Then right now, write down 10 things that drive you to earn income. I’ll wait while you get to listing.

Now, out of those 10 things, what are the 3-5 that make your stomach hurt or eyes well up? Is it providing for your family, saving for your kid’s college tuition, watching every one of your kid’s Little League games or dance recitals, or owning a sports car? Whatever it is, there is no right or wrong answer.

Even when it was just me freelancing, I knew I’d need help one day.  So I started collecting business cards and taking notes of those I’d meet in my profession whose work and personality I liked and thought might be a good future partner to support my clients. I would run into these folks through other client vendors, at local Chamber networking events as well as at HOW’s Creative Freelancer Business Conference.

If you think all your goals and dreams can come true through your own effort, great! But if you think you’ll one day need help building a virtual dream team to meet your future goals and clients’ needs, then start taking notice and notes now. Make connections, go out of your way to meet new colleagues and creatives in your field. (Also at CFBC in May, there will be a Freelancer Showcase and Matchmaking Happy Hour for just this purpose where you can meet both prospects and potential collaborators.)

Hopefully I’ve lit a little fire under you and your goals for 2014! Are you already part of a virtual team or looking to build a virtual dream team? Let me know your thoughts, pros, cons, concerns – I’d love to hear from you!