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Freelancers and Founders: A new way to think about Business Potential

by LAMARKS, Global Creative Director, Noumena

Think of Capital Quotient (CQ) as a measure of your business capability and potential.

It’s broken into 4 steps to include your background, experience, network, and your business and financial value. It’s verifiable and calculated without bias to give you a single number that’s trusted and true.

Use the CQ to help you assess your business’s progress, to win a client, and to verify your business value and your investability. CQ has a lot of potential, just like you.

Each week, we’re talking about each of the four components of your CQ. First up: Identity + Social Capital.

Your Identity + Social Capital Have Been Undervalued Until Now

Networking and influencing have existed ever since commerce began (thank you Dale Carnegie for How to Win Friends and Influence People!) But when did we start wishing there was a way to quantify the value of the work we put into our personal business development? Personally, I remember waaay back in 2011 when Klout became a sensation among the newly hyper-connected creative class soon-to-be-known as influencers and creators. Users were encouraged to link as many of our shiny new social media profiles as possible, to be analyzed and ranked by an all-knowing “algorithm” that would assess our popularity and sway over the people in our networks. Big following but few likes on your posts? Klout would call you OUT. And you could compare your score with your friends, see it rise and fall, and even brag about it publicly. What a time to be alive.

Or was it?

It was a first step in a relevant and intriguing direction, but it felt incomplete and was a bit of a controversial idea back then, quantifying someone just by their influence online. CNN Money pointed out that “Klout was practically sucking in data from all social media platforms and throwing it into an algorithmic pot.” Klout would then pull out a number between 1 and 100, and stick it on an individual as their influence score. “Klout was a little bit socially evil,” CNN’s John Scalzi wrote. Eventually Klout got investment from Microsoft, then was bought and closed down by Lithium Technologies. But of course the idea of valuing and quantifying our networks, experiences, and clout has lived on and gained more momentum.

But to what end? And could there be a more holistic view?

How can we as freelance business owners, creators and entrepreneurs understand the value of our experience and connections?

We’re answering this question with our new tool: Capital Quotient. Our team of financial experts and analysts has woven together the science behind why specific elements of our personality, connections, and knowledge can make a freelance business a resilient and an investable asset: one that should not be overlooked by banks any longer. These data points help paint a more complete picture of us and our potential. Here are the key elements we analyze in your Identity Capital.

Your Networks Speak Volumes

  • Your social profiles - Somewhat like Klout, but more refined and for the 21st century. It’s true that as a freelancer, having active social media profiles and reach to a community that cares about you is important. Social media presence is the first way many clients find you. But it’s not a popularity contest, just one piece of the puzzle. And according to the New York Times, social media skills are only going up in value (hello livestream + tiktok generation)

  • Your networks - Being respected in your industry means a lot in terms of the longevity of your career as an independent worker. The Harvard Business Review says it’s a non-negotiable! Are you in a professional association, run a discord, have a newsletter or Facebook group? Those are worth their weight in gold! Show us who you associate with, add value to your CQ.

  • Your groups - You are who you hang out with, as any ambitious and growth-oriented entrepreneur knows. Do you volunteer? Are you on any boards? Affiliating yourself with established groups shows you are reliable, committed, and connected to something bigger than yourself.

Your Education + Experience Are Worth More

  • Your work experience - Yes, some elements of a resumé are still relevant in 2022. Your work experience can illustrate how you’ve niched down into a specialty, or have a valuable breadth of experience. Name drop away, we love to see it.

  • Your education / training - Did you graduate from a prestigious school? Awesome. Did you learn a trade or do a remote year or study abroad program or get a certification in an in-demand skill? Even better, in my humble opinion. Whether traditional education or something far off the beaten path, showing you’ve invested in your learning is powerful stuff.

  • Your skills - When you apply for traditional financing, a banker doesn’t ask you what you’re good at. We want to know what your special sauce is because we know that is what your clients value most. You are talented and the effort you’ve put in to elevate your talents deserves to be seen.

It’s How You Do It That Sets You Apart

  • Your business description - Tell us what it is you do, simple as that. We’ll start to get an initial idea of your business valuation from this section. Proofread what you share and keep it succinct (you’ll have space to go into much greater depth in Step 4 - the business plan portion)

  • Your achievements - Brag away, you earned it! Winning awards and accolades from teachers, peers, employers or industry groups is a great sign of your future potential for growth among small business owners. I was once employee of the month at my first startup job… I’ll never forget it (or let anyone else forget it either for that matter)

  • Your publishing / licenses - Commercial Drivers License? CPR training? Scientific papers in peer reviewed journals? Op-Eds on established websites? Maybe you’re even a best-selling author, or an inventor with patents. Your IP is a treasure trove that deserves to be accounted for.

  • Your hobbies - Why do we want to know about your hobbies? Because we care about getting to know you as a whole person! And having work-life balance is a key factor in avoiding burnout and keeping a sustainable growth trajectory in your freelance career. Me personally, working in a very fast-paced startup environment, I rely on yoga, barre, meditation, and calming hypnosis to keep my mind and body right, and I love cooking for my family and friends. What are your hobbies, and how do they round out your life as a solopreneur? Tell us all about it.

Are you loving the idea of actually getting more than street cred for all the time, care, and effort you’ve put into educating yourself and building your freelance ecosystem? Me too. All these forms of social capital work together in concert to complete the first step of your in-depth CQ.

Download the Noumena app and start Step 1 of your Capital Quotient right now. You’ll feel proud of yourself for doing so, and the result could open exciting new doors for you.