How to Look Professional As a Solopreneur

As a solopreneur, you’re the face of your business. And while you likely have a million things going on, the last thing you want is to look scattered and overwhelmed.  When your clients perceive you as cool, calm, and collected, it builds trust and confidence. So whether you’re pitching to a new client, sending out an invoice, or just working through the day-to-day, it’s important to prioritize professionalism.

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Below, we’ll cover some simple, sustainable ways to maintain a solid reputation so you can keep attracting great clients — and keep the ones you already have. 

1. Make sure your proposals and contracts are on brand.

Maintaining your brand image across channels is crucial, especially when you’re trying to land a new client. And for solopreneurs, the proposal and contract are a big piece of how you present yourself. Just like your website and social media, your proposals and contracts should be professional, polished, and on brand. Make sure you include your logo, brand colors, an “About Me” section, and any other elements that can help your business stand out. And don’t forget to proofread! Typos and grammatical errors can mar even the best proposal.

Pro tip: Don’t recreate the wheel. Harlow has a number of pre-designed templates that make it easy to build on-brand proposals and contracts. 

2. Develop an efficient onboarding process.

When you land a new client, it’s important to make their onboarding experience as smooth as possible. This period can set the tone for the working relationship in a big way, establishing a trust or testing it. So as you kick off a project, focus on making your client comfortable and confident that you’ll deliver. Creating an onboarding checklist can help you collect all of the critical info upfront, so you’re not chasing down answers later. You can weave this into your kickoff call and impress your client with your thoroughness right out of the gates.

3. Keep your to-dos organized.

Setting up a sound project plan (and a system for organizing tasks) at the start of a new project is the best way to ensure you’re staying on top of your workload. As the project progresses, you have more and more tasks to keep tabs on, and it can quickly get overwhelming if you don’t have a clear system for logging and prioritizing them. A simple project management tool like Harlow can help you organize tasks, set deadlines, and plan your schedule in advance, so you always know where you stand.

4. Set realistic expectations

Staying organized and on track is about more than just the tool you use, though. It’s important to also be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a day, week, or month. Make sure you’re setting fair expectations for both your sake and your client’s. Overcommitting and under-delivering is a bad look, and it can damage your working relationship. On the other hand, communicating openly about changing needs can go a long way. If life happens and you’re about to miss your deadline, give your client a heads-up as far in advance as possible. Most people are understanding, and these conversations can actually serve to build trust.

5. Collaborate with your clients.

Communication is important in pretty much every other situation you’ll face as a solopreneur too. Taking an open, collaborative approach with your clients can help you build a more authentic relationship with them, which is much more fulfilling. When you listen to your client’s needs and concerns and work with them to find solutions, you show them that you’re adaptable and receptive. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t assume that you know what your client wants. Instead, collaborate with your client and treat them as equals. You’ll build a stronger relationship and deliver a better outcome for both of you. 

6. Be consistent and clear with your invoicing.

Finally, when it’s time to send out invoices, make sure they’re easy to digest and contain clear terms. Invoices should include all the necessary information, like your business name, address, tax ID, and how you want to get paid (ACH, CC, Venmo, etc.). And most importantly, make sure you send out your invoices at the same time every month. This will set a consistent schedule with your clients so they know when the invoice is coming, which helps you get paid faster! You can save yourself from loads of stress by using a tool like Harlow to create professional invoices and even schedule recurring send dates, so you never forget. 

Even if you’re a one-person show, maintaining your reputation as a solopreneur is hugely important. It can take time to build trust with a client, but setting the foundation proactively can accelerate that process. Delivering consistent, quality work, prioritizing open communication, and building a polished brand are the most effective ways to lay the groundwork for a healthy, lasting relationship. Being a solopreneur is hard work, but with the right mindset and tools, you can build a trusted brand and lock in loyal clients. 

And if you’re looking for a new tool to help you manage your business, look professional and save time, it’s time for you to try Harlow’s all-in-one freelance tool. 

Samantha Anderl

Samantha Anderl is co-founder of Harlow, an all-in-one freelance tool. From pitch to paid, Harlow helps you knock out the little tasks so you can focus on the big picture. As former marketing execs and freelancers themselves, she and her co-founder, Andrea Wildt, created Harlow because they value balance, autonomy, and efficiency and want to help others find it.