Choosing success

How can you guarantee your business’s success? Perhaps Will Smith, the only movie star in the world, can teach you something.

How do you get enough clients to make a living? If I got a dollar for each time I’m asked that question I wouldn’t need to find any clients. Finding good, regular clients that pay a fair rate on time is the biggest challenge to a successful freelance practice.

But how do you find those meal tickets? It turns out that the only true movie star in the world, Will Smith (at least according to this story by Bill Simmons) has done the leg work for us.

Here’s Smith’s plan:

When Smith was trapped on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air set in the early-’90s, dreaming of starring in movies instead of selling Alfonso Ribiero’s jokes, Smith and his manager, James Lassiter, studied a list of the top-10 grossing films ever. Here’s what Smith told Time Magazine in 2007: “We looked at (the list) and said, O.K., what are the patterns? We realized that 10 out of 10 had special effects. Nine out of 10 had special effects with creatures. Eight out of 10 had special effects with creatures and a love story.

In other words

1. He looked at the market he wanted to succeed in

2. Determined what the common attributes of success were

3. Made sure that he modelled his work to take advantage of the success criteria he’d found through his analysis

How many freelancers, whether they’re photographers, developers, artists, writers or whatever, are that deliberate about their careers?

In my observations there are two types of freelancer: those that are successful and happy and those that wish they were (OK – so I might have ripped that off from My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the dad says there are two types of people – Greeks and those that wish they were Greek). If you’re in the latter group, you need to find people in the former group and talk to them.

If there are clients you really want to work for – pursue them. Very few potential clients will say “Yes” to you on a first meeting or contact.

Then, deliver what they want, how they want it, when they want it.

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