This guide belongs to 100 Ways To Be Being Remarkable Series, a special project that brings you business and self-development advice from The Success Manual.
“Let's start with passion about stuff that matters.”
Two main ways how you can work for yourself – 1. Start your own company, or 2. work as a freelancer – writing for newspapers and magazines, technical writing,, photographer, web designer, mechanic, consultant for any industry, stylist, publicist, agent…it goes on.
The list of possible freelancing careers depends on your special talents. Of course, it is quite possible that you work as a freelancer and do it through a company.
Step 1: Vet yourself - Do you offer something clients need? Is it a crowded market? Web design, Online writer, for example? If yes, how do you plan to differentiate?
Step 2: Motivate yourself – Working for yourself is liberating at first but without the support structure of an office and the safety of a regular salary cheque, you must find ways to motivate yourself to work, put the hours in, day after day, and there are no off days when you are freelancing - Build routines into your day to keep yourself on track, meet others for coffee to stave off isolation, and start thinking of yourself as a business owner, not an employee.
There's nothing more motivating than knowing that if you do not complete your work you will not get paid.
Step 3: Prepare a Business Plan – Not a detailed one, but a single page document outlining your uniqueness, earning potential, target customer base, annual/biannual business target figures (no. of new clients, service rates, total business size – should at least equal your last salary), competitors, etc. Be realistic about what you need to earn to make self-employment sustainable.
Step 4: Create a Workspace – the problem with a home based office is how to keep the noises and distraction out and how to motivate yourself to put the hours in. You can break the loneliness by taking breaks and meeting people outside.
Step 5: Choose a Legal Structure – Like most freelancers, you can make things simple and save money by working as a sole proprietors, but if you need protection against personal liability issues (especially in businesses where safety and quality issues often result in lawsuits) you may want to form limited liability companies or S-corporations.
Step 6: Pick a Name for your service – Is it going to be your name? Or are you going to pick a distinct name, something that defines what your service is all about, or something that you may later expand into a corporation?
Step 7: Get Insurance - Health Insurance for yourself and your family and insurance for your workplace. For example, start with a freelancers insurance. Keep yourself protected at all times, no matter what your working conditions may be.
Step 8: Set Prices – before you do that, look at your competition and prevalent market prices. Do you price on the hour? On project basis?
Step 9: Get Online – your website/blog, email id, linkedin.com membership, Twitter.com account for quick tips and updates for your clients,
Step 10: Business Cards (a must) , Newspaper Inserts etc.
Step 11: Build Your Network
Step 12: Handling payments – Bank account, Online payments – Paypal.com, Google Checkout, Accepting Credit cards online etc.
Step 13: Financing – how will finance your personal and family expenses? From your savings? From a Credit Card? How will you finance costs of doing business? That includes registration, new bank accounts, promotion etc.
Step 14: Sell Your Service Also read below on more tips on promoting your business. For your first paying job, get in touch with people you have worked with before – past employers, colleagues, etc.
“Ask for a little “yes” first, then build on that. Sales people sometimes call this the ‘foot-in-the-door’ technique.”
Step 15: Get Paid - Make invoices, bill your clients promptly, and be diligent about collecting payments. Follow up unpaid invoices. Freelancers often find it tough getting bad clients pay up.
Step 16: Manage Your Finances – use desktop accounting software, or use an accountant.
Step 17: Pay Taxes – Now that you don’t have the regular tax payment duties as a salaried professionals, you must establish a tax payment record as a freelancing concern to build a credit history. Research online or use a tax expert to know about the deductions.
Step 18: Build Your Brand – what is your USP? Spread your USP everywhere. A logo, slogan/Tag Line is a start.
Step 19: List your freelancing services online - Craigslist.org, Odesk.com, Bighow.com/services, Guru.com, GetAFreelancer.com, etc.
Step 20: Plan ahead - make it a full-time job, expand your venture and hire employees, expand your business, etc.
Step 21: Develop a thick skin – there will be disappointments, disagreements, Criticisms…it is all for good. This is better than a business degree. Freelancing is a tough, real-world classroom – keep on learning and stay sharp.
- Based on a Businessweek Special Report
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