Since becoming a freelance consultant my strategy has always been to find my ‘community’. Think of your community as your niche or target market. The industry is oversaturated with ‘Full service’ Digital Agencies who can be more keen to grow as opposed to servicing their clients.
I saw the opportunity to be a local voice who predominantly helps businesses local to Leeds & Wakefield. Those who have been left behind by agency growth or perhaps not attractive enough on the Agencies client roster. My approach was to nurture this community and become the leading consultant within my small area.
To my surprise competition was incredibly low yet the volume of leads was high (3-4 per week). To this day this has enabled me to pick those clients who are aligned with my goals as a business owner & vice versa. You just know why someone is a good fit.
But why such limited competition? It’s simple. Society has become less about the local community and more global. Why attract a local client when you can attract a FTSE 250 company? Everyone wants to work with the bigger, high paying clients and the perceived glory which comes with it; irrespective of how they are as clients. Why not focus on authenticity and choosing those clients who align with you instead of chasing the cash cow?
I don’t believe this is just in business also. Modern life has lost its sense of community. The rise in Cars on the road. Modern-day suburbia of housing estates with no shops, local sports clubs or community centres. We’ve stepped away from community as we know it.
A recent Guardian article suggested Half of Britain only socialises with friends and family at most once a month which reinforces this mindset.
As a family, we’ve also built our life around community. We’ve moved to an area where we can walk/cycle to shops, parks, schools, community groups and even hairdressers. My whole initial reason for becoming self-employed was due to my move to a family-centric, community-driven area.
The bi-product of this has been that I’ve become passionate about where I live. Focusing my freelancing within my area means I am actively helping my neighbours grow their businesses.
How community can drive your business
Co-working spaces, local meetups, optimising Google Local business, local hour twitter chats, ranking for local terms are just some ways you can gain a sense of community with your business. Becoming known locally as the go too individual for your skills area is a tool within any arsenal.
Build your life and your business around where you live. It doesn’t mean you cannot have clients from elsewhere but a strong base locally can help you nurture good client relationships and also help socially too (we all know that’s difficult as a freelancer).
Don’t get me wrong I’m not shunning large organisations and your ability to acquire larger clients but local is often neglected. The long term opportunities it presents should not be overlooked to chase what everyone else is chasing.