A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited me. She told me that she had quitted her job because it wasn’t the job of her life, but she was too afraid to start working as a freelancer. Does it sound familiar?
Starting up as a freelancer can be very scary. During my career, I have been talking to some colleagues that wanted to start working as freelancers but they never did because “it was too risky”, “there’s the economic crisis”, “I need to have some money first”, “I haven’t got enough experience” (I bet that they all sound familiar too). I know that feeling, I’ve been there too.
I have answered quite a few emails to other colleagues that were just starting up their careers and I have decided to list every piece of advice that I have given in this blog post. If you’re in that situation right now, keep reading! This post is for you.
Have a cash cushion and a plan B.
You have an idea and want to put it in motion. That’s great. But let’s be realistic for a moment. Things can go south at some point, and if that happens (fingers crossed) we’d need to survive, right? In my case, when I started working as a freelancer a couple of years ago, I remember that I had two part-time jobs apart from my freelance work.
Make sure that you have saved some money first, at least to get by two months ahead. Also, having a plan B isn’t a bad idea. Ask yourself: if this doesn’t work, what am I going to do? Elaborate your plan B and keep it safe. You never know if you will need it at some point.
Ok, once we have minimised risks, what else we have to bear in mind?
Further reading: You will need a financial plan. You have all the information here.
Which business structure suits you best?
You will need to start from the very beginning. Are you going to work as a sole trader or are you going to set up a business partnership together with a colleague?
Explore all possibilities that your country can offer. Consider to talk to a business consultant if you feel that you’re a bit lost.
Don’t close any doors yet.
You never know where the next business opportunity can come up. Your current employer could be a source of income. They already know you and will be more likely to rely on you if they need to outsource some projects.
Make sure you have some freelance work before starting up.
First things first. You need assignments to start up as a freelancer. Make sure that you have at least a couple of assignments lined up beforehand.
Try to reach your first client before actually quitting job current job.
That’s a big mistake that most first-time freelancers do. If you take the first assignment that come up and undercharge your services, you’ll be attracting the wrong clients. Price-sensitive clients will turn their back to you if you try to increase your prices later on.
We want to get as many loyal clients as possible, right?
Further reading: Don’t you still know how to price your services? Then have a look at this series of blog posts.
Build your network and collaborate.
Collaborating with other professionals is very important to survive. It’s a good way to turn your competition in a good asset for your business.
I already explained in this blog posts how you can do that, so I will keep it simple. Target businesses that you think you can add value to and present a good proposal to collaborate.
Network, network and network.
Not only with freelancers within your domain. Try to look for professionals in your fields of expertise that may be interested in your services. You can attend to conferences and network events.
I know that you can feel very safe “in your cave”, but you have to be aware of the benefits of getting out of your comfort zone.
Save money for the famine cycles.
Winter is coming, and it will come at some point. You have to assume that you won’t be always busy. Sometimes it will take a while until the next project pops up. That’s why you’ll have to save some money for when that happens.
If you’re having a good month, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be always like that. So try to save money when you can, until you get a balanced workflow.
Further reading: A good way to get a balanced workflow is diversification.
You will have to pay taxes.
Apart from the famine cycles, you will have to put some money aside for your taxes. Read as much as you can about taxes in your country, sometimes you’ll be able to claim that money back.
Consider consulting an accountant if you don’t feel comfortable with this. Can’t highlight enough how important a financial plan is.
At the very beginning, you will have to invest more money than you actually earn. Evaluate you budget situation and the money that you need to start up. Consider saving some money first if needed.
Do your homework.
Is it actually a good idea to go freelancing? Is there a niche market for your business out there? Then you’ll have to find it.
Also, business knowledge is a must. Think about whether you have all that takes to start a business. And if not… What are you going to do about it?
Become a marketer.
Yes, whether you like it or not, marketing will be a pillar of your business. If you don’t know how to promote your services or how to use certain social media channels, you’ll be missing out.
Some tasks can be outsourced, but marketing and business are closely linked to each other.
Further reading: Here you can find a selection of marketing-related blog posts.
Would you add any other piece of advice to the list? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
Follow me on: