Over the past decade or so, the internet and various digital tools have become more accessible than ever, and this has had a huge impact on the modern business arena. It’s never been easier to put together a business plan, test it out, and ultimately quit your day job in order to chase your self-employment dreams. If you’re one of the many people who want to escape from arduous commutes and short-term contracts, then you’ve certainly chosen a good time for it! If you’re about to take those first few steps into a freelancing career, here are some of the essential things you need to plan for…
Money in the Bank
If you’re going to start freelancing from a position of unemployment, then this probably isn’t all that important. However, if you’re going to be quitting a steady, well-paid job for it, then you need to make sure you have enough income coming in for you to cover the bills and keep a roof over your head. To assure this, you’ll either need a second source of income, (perhaps from your partner) or have a pretty substantial amount saved up. I’m sure if you talk to a few freelancers who have been just about able to get their careers off the ground, many of them will put a lot of emphasis on this point. Things are going to be extremely tough in those first few months, and if you don’t have a decent amount of financial recourse, you may find yourself hitting a wall just as you were getting started!
An Online Presence
After the money you’ll need to get your home business up and running in the first place, an online presence is probably the most important thing you need to secure. When you’re first starting out, this can be fairly basic. A well-managed Facebook page, LinkedIn page or free blog can all be great online platforms to start you off, provided you’ll have access to decent features for showcasing your work, testimonials and so on. Be sure to humanise your business with a good picture of yourself, a short description about your history in the niche, and some content on why your target market should choose you for their project over the alternatives. While social media and free blogging platforms can be very powerful tools in that initial period, you should plan to eventually buy a domain name and set up an actual website. Having your own site will inject a potent dose of professionalism into your brand, bringing you up to speed with the competition, and giving you a more functional platform for communicating with your target market and exhibiting your skills. Obviously this will require a greater outlay with hosting services like Wizz Hosting, along with graphic design and modern, gimmicky features. However, if you really want to make a career out of this freelancing operation, you’re going to need to get a website sooner or later.
Like most entrepreneurs, you’ve probably got all kinds of grand visions and fantasies about what your fledgling freelance operation could be in the future. However, you’re not going to be able to reach any of those things unless you have a roadmap of how to get there. Here, I’m referring to your business plan. If you try to run any kind of business without a comprehensive plan in place, you’re more or less going to be setting yourself up for failure. This plan doesn’t need to be a purely financial document, although your overall earnings should come into it somewhere along the line. Your business plan, simply put, should be all about growth. Use it to outline how you’re going to develop your freelancing service, including anything from your intended profit margins to the market you’ll be targeting to new areas you can see your business expanding into in the future. You need to make sure that you include the names of anyone directly involved in your business, the findings of any kind of market research you’ve conducted in the past, and the necessary details of all the services that you’re offering. When you have a plan in place, it can give the work you do on your freelancing business a lot more focus, and can be used as a kind of self-assessment for your plans moving forward. There are a lot of decent business plan templates on the web, and included in programs like Microsoft Word. However, all you really need is a basic understanding of how small businesses work, a pen, and a piece of paper.
Your Home Office
Seen as you’re reading this, I’ll assume that you have a computer or tablet that’s going to be appropriate for checking your emails and making tweaks to your website. If you’re only using a desktop or less portable device, I strongly recommend considering a business-grade tablet as an investment. You can find a helpful list at Techradar. With a decent business tablet and a compatible cloud platform, you can take your work pretty much anywhere, which can come in exceedingly handy. Meeting local clients and being able to show them what you have in the works personally will make your personal brand much stronger than a lot of your competitors. While you’re on the way to these meetings, you’ll also be able to work on another client’s project, with word processors, image editors, and a wide range of other software that can be made portable. If you can stay focussed on a task in any environment, you’ll really be able to reap one of the biggest benefits of being self-employed: working mobility. If it’s sunny outside, go ahead and work in the garden. If you’ve heard about a new coffee place that’s meant to do a heavenly mocha, take your work down there with you. While this kind of flexibility isn’t for everyone, if you can keep focussed it will give you a great sense of freedom you wouldn’t get doing a nine-to-five.