In twenty years as a freelance journalist I have lost count of how many jobs I got because another writer failed to meet the deadline.
When you are a business that stands alone there is ONE thing that you have to get right, and keep getting right. The thing that keeps word of mouth rolling positively and that helps your bottom line stay in the black:
Just so we’re clear, let’s break the word down into four areas that you need to make sure you get right.
1. Deliver on time
Establish the deadline, sign off on it, plan your process around it, build in wriggle room for predictable delays and then, deliver on time, if not before.
2. Deliver to spec
A huge part of reliability is delivering the right thing first time. Make sure you understand what you customer/client wants. Show examples, ask questions, do whatever it takes and stick with want they want, not how you see things.
3. Don’t over promise
Rather say you’ll do a good job and do an excellent one that the other way round
4. Don’t be over enthusiastic
If you’re too keen chances are you’ll under-estimate how long or how difficult jobs will be. Over enthusiasm is almost always responsible for over-promising and missed deadlines.
5. Manage your time
Yes, I know you work for yourself and can wake up late and stay in your pyjamas all day. Who cares? Manage your time. Block your days so that all your projects get attention. Prioritise deadlines and arrange your working hours and efforts around them.
Reliability is so important as an entrepreneur because it is the fuel that generates your most important marketing momentum: Word Of Mouth. When you do what you say by the time you say you will with quality, value-adds and a good attitude, people will market your business for you. Everything you do with marketing on top of that will then be blessed with good will, credible references and understanding.
For some people, time management, estimating time and effort and so on are really hard to do. The best advice is to take a course: project or time management, estimating etc. They are out there. Acknowledge it’s a weak point and do something about addressing it.
Reliability is becoming a rare commodity which makes it incredibly valuable in the market place. Invest in making sure you can deliver it.