full time to part time

The Switch: Full Time to Part Time

Wait, what? In my first article, we went from freelance to full-time. Now we’re going back? Yes, in the most attractive way. Have you made the switch? Are you ready to learn a new trick?

After running my own company for a year, I learned many things, one of which is the importance of operating my company in a way that grants me freedom. I’d like to freely share a few strategies that have helped me to do this.

Raise Your Price

When I started my company, I always said I was going to charge what I needed – not what I could get. There are many businesses out there who, I believe, take advantage of people in the name of “American capitalism” or “free enterprise.” Personally, I don’t want to be a part of the cut-throat game of getting ahead.

That being said, I looked at my expenses, looked at the income, looked at my goals, and decided to double my rates when I switched from freelance to full-time. Then, when I wanted to move from full-time to part-time, I had to increase them again.

Be careful with this! It is easy to get greedy, but keeping the “charge what I need, not what I can get” mindset has allowed my company to cut costs before spending money, and we are able to pass that along to the client. As I write this, my company is still charging about 30-40% less than any other full-service agency out there. 

Sometimes, the Best Clients Are the Ones You Turn Down

When I went full-time, I needed every client. That included the clients who started the conversation with “my other three web developers just quit on me.” If you’ve been around the business for a while, you know what this means, but I took them on anyway! And sometimes all it took was a quick, sit-down meeting to teach those individuals how to be good clients.

However, at the end of the day, some clients nickle and dime you every step of the way, and they usually take up most of your time and focus. I quickly learned who my better clients were and tried to duplicate them. I tried to say goodbye to the ones who caused me the most sleepless nights. This helps in two ways: 

  1. It eliminates unneeded stress, which – in turn – allows me to focus and produce better work.
  2. It presents me with more time to achieve my ultimate goal: Focusing on building my family, not my company.

You Are Your Biggest Competition

As we opened the doors and fought for more clients, I looked at other agencies and thought, “I’ll never be able to compete.” However, I soon began to see that the portfolio pieces we were pumping out were of big agency standards, if not better. And because of our “only charge what we need” mindset, we started acquiring several larger clients who were budget-conscious. 

It turned out that our competition wasn’t some big box competitor – it was myself. The side of me that said “let’s sleep in” or “I can take a shortcut” was the voice I had to keep pushing out. When it comes to client work, we choose to work every day as if we were competing for an award. We strive for no errors, no upsets, no room for faults to be found. Each day we have to choose to take the extra time to focus on the small details. 

Operate as if You Have 100 Locations

My grandfather told me that it takes the same amount of effort to think small as it does to think big. When I was freelancing, I thought small; it was only me and my computer. I knew what I could do and I focused small, and my target was small. It was simple. 

When our company was born, however, I was given some advice and started thinking big. We operated as if we had 100 locations. As a matter of fact, we built a website that showcased a very large company that was offering worldwide service. This allowed us to be open to larger markets, and now – just one year later – we have clients in 7 U.S. states and 8 countries!

When a client asked if we could do something, the answer was always yes. If we were not capable at that moment, you could be sure by the end of the day we had a half-dozen hiring prospects who could. We went from only web design to a full-service agency overnight and never looked back. (Web, Print, SEO, & Multimedia) 

Hire Employees 

In order to offer all of these services, I had to hire employees.

Let’s stop right here: Hiring employees is no easy task when you are doing it for the first time. Despite this, I knew that in order to transition myself from a 40+ hour-per-week job to a 30-hour position, I needed a team. When you are considering this stage, here are a few things I learned that really helped: 

  • Hire based on character, not on skill.  Skill is something that can be taught in a couple of months. Character isn’t.
  • Hire people who are smarter than you in a niche area.
  • Work with a payroll company who can handle the taxes, filing, and reporting. It may cost a little more per month, but it will save you many frustrating hours in the long run.
  • Be prepared for more taxes.

Hiring employees has also allowed me to be more confident in selling services. I know that we have a team who can figure out what I can’t, be there when I’m out, and be ready to cater to the client’s every need.

“We are your concierge design team,” I like to say.

A good team is a blessing that cannot be overstated. To be able to rely on a team and trust them with clients is a gift that will allow you to focus on other things, like business development. 

Treat Your Employees Well 

I told myself that when I ran my own company, I would treat my team the way I always wanted to be treated as an employee. What did this look like?

  • Well, I wanted the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve off. Done.
  • It would be nice to work from home sometimes. Check.
  • I wanted Fridays off. No problem.

I have worked at many jobs before. I’ve had some great bosses, and I’ve had some hard bosses. At the end of the day, I’ve only felt like part of the family at very few places of employment. I want that environment for my team. I want work to be fun when they arrive. We are at a creative company: We should have fun! Consider meeting our team.

In keeping with this principle, I have four programs offered to each of my team members:

  • We work together for one hour a week on a project unrelated to company work. (Currently we are inventing something together.)
  • If a team member has an idea, I want to foster a culture of growth by offering him or her an opportunity to develop it. At his or her discretion, we can form a partnership where Skillful Antics will help develop their new idea by providing resources in exchange for equity.
  • After 10 years of employment, there is a mandatory, fully-paid, four-week sabbatical. You have to stop thinking about work and go on a vacation, during which you do something creative and unrelated to the job.
  • And, of course, every team member is offered commission. 

Focus on Relationships

This is a principle that, I think, so many employers miss. Lots of employers I know claim to focus on relationships, but a dollar at the end of the day is truly most important in their lives – and it’s evident. When a potential client walks into my company, I have found that trying to close a sale needs to be the last thing on my mind if I want to stay true to this principle.   

Sometimes I shock myself and find myself in the middle of talking a client out of a new website. However, I can’t sit there and take someone’s hard-earned money when what I offer isn’t necessarily what they need.

Because of this approach, I have not only gotten to know many people personally and developed many relationships, but I also get to see a glimpse of their being. I have had the pleasure of hosting many clients at my home, enjoyed lunches/dinners out, and have been able to make some great friends. Because of these relationships, they know they can trust me and I know I can deliver a product that can relate to their personality. When I started out, I was encouraged with this note:

It’s better to make a slow dime over a fast nickel.

What I take that to mean is this: Trying to milk someone out of everything they have, as quickly as you can, is not the honest way to operate a business. This is one of the reasons our prices are much lower than industry-standard, and our company will always offer free advice. 

Take Time Off Every Day

If you want to transition yourself away from long days and longer hours, you will have to start taking time off. At my company, I try to come in around 9:30 a.m. and leave around 4:00 p.m., taking an hour each day for lunch. Sometime that doesn’t work, and that’s okay. But if I’m trying to move into a part-time schedule, then learning how to delegate to my team accomplishes two things: 

  1. It gives them more responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities for growth.
  2. It frees my schedule and allows me to focus on other things, like family, business development, etc.

I encourage you to leave a comment below, such as a tip you’ve learned or advice you currently practice as you try to switch from full-time to part-time. Let’s help someone else with their goal of not being strapped to a 40-60 hour work week.

Ben Homan is the founder of Skillful Antics: a web design, online marketing, and multimedia company working for clients worldwide. Let’s work together: 407-545-4649 or ben@skillfulantics.com

Previous Post
The Switch: Freelance to Full Time
Next Post
Animals – Meerkat Ad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed