Each month I send an email to a dozen friends and clients. The email shows, in a few bullet points, how the Supercreative business is going. Revenues breakdown. Failures. Hiring decisions. Monthly objectives. This is an investor update. Yet I don’t have any investors. Why would you do that Ben?
Here is what my Monthly Investor Update (MIU) looks like:
Investor updates are a fantastic forcing function to deliver great work:
- Stay focused: a monthly recap is a good way to assess what's failing and double down on what's working. It's forced introspection. It sets the rhythm for continuously improving. In my experience, I tend to achieve more when I set myself a monthly tempo, not quarterly (too far and vague), not weekly (too fast, not enough data).
- Stay accountable: freelancers don't have bosses, we're entrepreneurs of ourselves. Writing and talking about an objective crystalizes it: you'll have to do it out of fear to disappoint others.
- Create serendipity: by letting others know what you're doing, they're more likely to mention you to the right person at the right time. Frequent updates create luck. Thanks to my monthly update, Olivier and Savi worked with me on Supercreative.
- Create transparency: finally sharing your MIU publicly brings more advantages. Public companies and open startups do this, some indie hackers do too. Freelancers should be next. Being more open about what works and doesn't would push many to learn faster (charge more! charge for your calls! specialize! sell your strategic thinking!). Sharing our process and building in public doesn’t require a lot more effort, it creates trust and consolidates the idea that we're experts. I gladly show how the sausage is made.
A few strategies for great MIUs
I pretend my update recipients are low time & attention executives, it’s an investor update after all. I write with simple bullet points and I start with my conclusions. I remove the BS and superlatives. This makes my MIU punchy and straightforward.
Even though my monthly investor updates are public, using emails make them feel more personal and drive more engagement than putting them on a social network or a blog. My first 6 monthly updates were just emails I sent with the default email app. Only recently, with hundreds of people following my updates did I decide to move to a newsletter service like Convertkit. If you're on your way to hyper freelancing, building up a newsletter is a solid way to launch new products, courses and keep clients in the loop.
Writing my MIU generally takes me one hour. Writing it is simply a transcription exercise. The reflections about last month’s metrics, and creation of the next objectives are a bigger creative endeavor.
What should you track as a freelancer?
If we are what we measure, it’s crucial to take the time to think about what metrics to focus on.
With multiple iterations, I’ve landed on tracking revenues by activities (consulting, education and products), leads and conversion rates, average project size, audience size and morale.
Though morale is self-reported, it’s still a metric I wish more freelancers and entrepreneurs tracked because it begs the question: am I enjoying the journey? Will I still be after many monthly iterations?
Let the numbers and graphs tell the story. Impress with execution.
Something magical happens when you write down where your future self will be: it becomes reality. This sounds childish, vaguely inspiring or self-help-like, but it's true. Projection works.
Formulating smart goals - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound - drives us towards execution. Don’t write “I’m going to have more clients” as your next month's objective. Write instead “Get 20 leads and convert 2 by October 30, 2020”. The formulae “[Action verb] [measurable thing] by [specific deadline]” is powerful. Personally I've been immensely driven by my objectives, so this is where I spend most of my time when I write my MIU.
If you're starting your own MIU, send it to me and I'll gladly subscribe. You can also subscribe to my own monthly update and watch me build a successful creative business. I share almost everything.