Everything I Learned About Business and Freelance, I Learned from Monopoly.

Success is equal parts luck and preparation. Luck can get you the perfect roll. Put you in the right place at the right time. But preparation will always close the deal.

I am often asked for advice about launching a start up business or the process of leaving the work force to become a full time freelancer or consultant. Although breaking free from the confines of a traditional 9-to-5 can be exciting; it can become overwhelming at times. It may take years to find a comfortable stride.

Finding the right ratio between work load, client management, contractual terms and continued education is important. The problem is that it won’t be the same for everyone. There is no cut-and-dry, step-by-step process to achieve success. It is a learning experience. But there are key principals to keep in mind. Principals I learned from playing Monopoly.

Collect $1,500 before beginning

In my experience, the few times I have waived an upfront payment problems arose and subsequent invoices were paid far beyond the terms.

In the freelancing industry it is customary to require a down payment before starting a project. An earnest payment by your client.  This allows you to have a buffer zone of operating costs and focus on the needs of your client. Depending on the size of your client, and project, you may be able to collect a flat fee each month. This provides you with a steady stream of consistent revenue. The most important aspect of staying in business and staying sane.

In my experience, the few times I have waived an upfront payment problems arose and subsequent invoices were paid far beyond the terms. Even with long term and well trusted clients.

Every move in business is like rolling the dice

It is important to maintain focus on what you have in front of you. Not what you hope to have in the future.

No matter how much you want something to happen you can’t control the outcome. Success is equal parts luck and preparation. Luck can get you the perfect roll. Put you in the right place at the right time. But preparation will always close the deal.

You want to build up New York, Tennessee and St. James? That’s a great idea. Prepare for that opportunity and game plan your next step but don’t get tunnel vision. You don’t own them yet. It is important to maintain focus on what you have in front of you. Not what you hope to have in the future.

Collect $500 on Free Parking

Become a master of the 95/5 mindset. Offer 95% of your knowledge for free. Consult casually with prospects and network. Show that you are a legitimate source for advice. Gain trust and respect by helping others. If you provide 95% that is worthwhile you will find people eager to purchase the heavily guarded 5% that makes you different than everyone else out there.

Negotiate so everyone feels like they benefit

On paper, a given exchange may not seem beneficial to all parties. But when there are hidden, value added, propositions in place everyone can feel like they win.

Have you ever traded Baltic for Boardwalk? Doubtful. Unless you negotiate the benefits of owning Baltic opposed to Boardwalk. It is cheaper to build hotels on. Cheaper property tax. Higher probability to land on and collect rent from competitors. And really, how many times do people come around the corner to Boardwalk and land on it? It isn’t very often.

It becomes an option of ROI (risk of investment). Baltic is inexpensive to purchase, improve and maintain. If people miss it a few times you don’t mind. You didn’t spend much on it. But when you pay so much for Boardwalk and people land on it only a few times in a game it can become frustrating. It begins to look like a wasted investment. On paper, a given exchange may not seem beneficial to all parties. But when there are hidden, value added, propositions in place everyone can feel like they win.

How can you do this? It depends on your business model. Maybe you are pitching a client on a new website. The estimate is $4,500 and they aren’t sure if they can invest that amount. Why not focus on the intent to provide in-depth daily/weekly/monthly analytic reports, W3C compliant web architecture which helps SEO rankings, cross browser compatibility and unrivaled customer support?

You are showcasing the value of your price. Making it tangible. And, most importantly, discussing features you already include at no cost but do not usually detail on an estimate.

Collect and barter for railroads

You just made $15,600 annually from less than a day of work per week.

Dedicate your energy on securing consistent revenue streams instead of high risk big pay offs like Park Place or Boardwalk. Small projects may not be the most exciting but they pay your bills and allow you to take on more exciting projects that may not pay well.

If you charged $300 for a business card design and completed one per month you would earn $3,600 a year. Although $300 doesn’t seem like much it does add up. Now imagine doing one per week. If a business card takes 4-8 hours to complete, including revisions and management time, that leaves you 32-36 hours free each week to work on larger projects. You just made $15,600 annually from less than a day of work per week.

Hard to believe but the truth is in the numbers. Whether you are buying properties and building hotels on a game board or bringing on employees or purchasing new equipment the mindset is the same. The more consistent your revenue stream is the more chances you can take with expansion.

What Monopoly skills have you instilled in your business?

7 Comments

  1. Jim RaffelReplyJune 5, 2010 at 3:27 pm 

    Joshua, Really enjoyed your business card example at the end. I just refer to it as hitting base hits. I have a little secret plan I execute once a month that covers most if not all of our fixed expenses each month. It's tedious and boring but frees up the rest of the month after about 3 days work :) same idea I think.

  2. Joshua GarityReplyJune 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm 

    [deleted – double post]

  3. Joshua GarityReplyJune 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm 

    Is this the same secret plan you told me about last week during coffee? :) So many people keep their eye on a set of large, long-term, goals that they forget the importance of putting one foot in front of the other sometimes.

    I still need to figure out how to work 3 days to pay the bills and then anything above and beyond is for growth, etc. Hmm…

  4. Jim RaffelReplyJune 9, 2010 at 2:51 pm 

    Not sure but we talked about it again today. It's my mini-marketing campaigns. It's not that secret and I will at some future point offer the secret part of it as an ebook once I have refined it.

  5. Joshua GarityReplyJune 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm 

    Is this the same secret plan you told me about last week during coffee? :) So many people keep their eye on a set of large, long-term, goals that they forget the importance of putting one foot in front of the other sometimes.

    I still need to figure out how to work 3 days to pay the bills and then anything above and beyond is for growth, etc. Hmm…

  6. Joshua GarityReplyJune 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm 

    [deleted – double post]

  7. Jim RaffelReplyJune 9, 2010 at 9:51 pm 

    Not sure but we talked about it again today. It’s my mini-marketing campaigns. It’s not that secret and I will at some future point offer the secret part of it as an ebook once I have refined it.

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