How to professionalize your freelance business

April 11, 2014

Local D.C. business owners gathered to gain insight on how to make their businesses stand out.

Shara Gibson , Emily Diaz and Hannes Luth share their business insight during the event.

A mix of writers, consultants and public relations professionals gathered at The National Press Club in Washington D.C. on April 3rd to learn how to personalize their freelance business and exchange ideas with their peers. Panelists included Shara Gibson of the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development, founder of Cosita Boutique, Emily Diaz and media trainer and consultant Hannes Luth of Wunderbar Media, LLC.

“Style is incredibly important for every entrepreneur”, said Diaz. She works with clients to develop a style that reflects their professional brand and urges every small business owner to “think strategically and never buy in a rush” to avoid over-spending on clothes that don’t match with the rest of the wardrobe. She stressed that every freelancer should be “prepared for that next opportunity” and look business ready at all times. Freelancers are essentially the “marketing and PR department” for their businesses and therefore a “walking commercial.” Ultimately, Diaz assured everyone that it’s important to not compare themselves to others, but rather focus on their own personal style.

Business development specialist Shara Gibson works with entrepreneurs from all walks of life at the Department of Small Business Development (DSLBD) of D.C. Gibson reiterated Diaz’s point by adding that she has met many aspiring entrepreneurs who “don’t look business-ready.” Besides a professional look and appearance, Gibson added that she and her colleagues are always impressed by business owners “who come to our trainings and have done their homework.” This includes those who have researched their target customers and have a good pitch and let their passion shine through. Gibson made clear that “business is a contact sport” so freelancers starting out should go outside 80% of the time to talk to people and practice networking. The number one skill she recommended to the audience to improve upon was presentation skills. “Many entrepreneurs have the technical skills, but do not know how to sell and close the deal.”

Business owners will often only have one opportunity to leave a memorable first impression. Ensuring you’re prepared by dressing the part and doing your research beforehand, will help make your first impression is a lasting impression.

Jessica Hirt co-founded Wunderbar Media to share her 15 years of international communications experience in Europe and the United States with the diverse clients of Wunderbar Media. She loves to communicate and market the value of freelancers and organizations large and small to diverse, global audiences.