As the Digital Era continues to pick up steam, tens of millions of people are taking advantage of the freedom that comes with being an entrepreneur. Of this population, nearly 60 million are part of the “gig economy” of freelancing.
Freelancing includes people who run their own schedules doing activities within their skill set. It seems like a cush job, but running any business requires a lot of hard work and time getting it off the ground.
If you’ve decided the life of a freelancer is for you, you’re starting on an exciting journey!
Along the way, there are probably going to be lots of bumps in the road. You can avoid many pitfalls, though, by following these seven tips as you get started.
1. Research Your Competition
As you begin building your business, the first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with your competitors.
In an online market, these could be global businesses. In a community, it’s anyone who offers your same niche services in the county you are in and any surrounding ones.
Getting to know your competition gives you a few edges. As you are just starting, you can avoid making the same mistakes they made and customize your business. Look for specific ways to start strong, like:
- Checking their brand and logo and make sure yours sets your business apart
- Keeping your company name distinctly unique (Pro tip: Try to use a name that shows up before your biggest competitors in the search engines)
- Lining up your prices so they are competitive with what clients would expect to pay for that service in your area
Knowing who your competition is doesn’t mean you have to be in a battle against them. It just gives you a leg up as you get started.
2. Define Your Goals
Every business should have goals to work towards. Your goals will be distinctly in line with your services and personal idea of success. However, writing them down in a professional document makes it more likely that you’ll reach them.
Come up with specific, measurable goals that have deadlines and action steps to get you there.
For instance, if you decide that you want to be debt-free for your business expenses, make a list of what you owe. Decide when you want your target payoff date to be. Then create a budget with monthly payment amounts you’ll need to obtain to get there.
3. Learn the Tax Laws
Most every small business owner will tell you that the hardest part of getting started is learning the tax laws. Should you incorporate? What counts as a deduction? What forms do you need to file?
If taxes aren’t your forte, look into hiring a CPA to help you as you begin your freelancing career. This will help you set a solid foundation while you’re not busy at first.
You’ll know which receipts to save, where to store them, how much to set aside for taxes, and more. Then you’ll have all the systems in place and ready to go when your schedule is full.
4. Get the Tools for the Job
There are some basic tools you’ll need regardless of your freelancing gig. Choosing the right programs to help you is essential. If you spend money on software that doesn’t work efficiently, it will cost you financially and with your time.
As you decide what you’ll need to make your business run professionally, consider these common freelancing tools:
- Web page platforms
- Payment options, both in person and on your site
- Template creators
- Email automators
- Invoice creators
- Scheduling and calendar apps
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. With a projected 100 million freelancers expected to arrive on scene within the next few years, you have plenty of tools at your disposal. Finding the right one is the key!
5. Know When to Ask for Help
You know your stuff, or you wouldn’t feel confident stepping out on your own to make a living at it. But just as you wouldn’t expect your client to know how to do what you do, there are things you might not be an expert at, either.
It’s okay to ask for help, especially as you get started and when your business takes off and you’re busy.
The trick is to know when something is more cost-effective for you to learn and do on your own, and when it’s better to hire someone.
If your hourly wage is more than it would cost to pay someone to do the job, consider asking for help. The money saved doing it yourself isn’t always worth the stress!
6. Create a Professional Persona
You’ve probably already considered how you’ll set up your web page and social media for your business. Looking and sounding professional is important!
But have you considered how your personal social media and in-person appearance needs to be adjusted, too?
As much as it might blur the boundaries of right and wrong, the fact is that people will judge your business based on your personal life. Some people will refuse to hire you if your Facebook or other social media posts seem offensive to them.
You have two real choices as you start your business. You can keep your personal social media professional-looking. Or you can accept that you can’t please everyone and consider those who might be offended as someone you’d be better off without!
7. Set Work/Life Boundaries
The most tempting aspect of being a freelancer is also the first thing you’ll have trouble with when you’re starting out. Yes, you can set your own schedule, but it’s also tempting to build your business when you should be enjoying your personal life!
Make sure you set clear work and life boundaries early on. Know when and where it’s okay to work and the times you need to focus on your family and friends.
This will become very important the busier you get. Having those boundaries will guide you as to when you might need to hire some extra help!
Entering the multi-billion dollar industry of freelancing is an exciting opportunity!
To make the most of it and set yourself up for success, be sure you follow these seven tips. With them, you can enjoy your newfound freedom and the thrill of being your own boss.
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