Working as a freelancer successfully is all about marketing yourself. But it seems that, for every freelancer that has spent a long time chipping away, there can be a sense of dissatisfaction in transcending to the next level. What is the answer? Freelancing is, technically speaking, a hobby or a side hustle. If you feel that you are making significant inroads as a freelancer, but you are wondering how long you can realistically sustain this for, turning it into a business can help you achieve a better name for yourself. After all, due to the various freelance platforms out there, you can very easily get swallowed up by the competition purely because they are charging less. So when you are making the change from a freelance career to a business owner, what do you really need to know?
Stop Thinking Like A Freelancer, Think Like A Business
Making the transition from freelancer to entrepreneur is not just about putting the right tools in place, but these things will naturally help. The article The Tech That Turns Freelancers Into Entrepreneurs is a good starting point. As you start to progress, you may very well realise that as a freelancer, you’ve not been doing things in the right way. Learning to sell yourself is crucial but when you are a freelancer, you are one of a crowd. Starting to look like an entrepreneur or the owner of a business means that you will have to fulfil the role of someone who has a lot of responsibility. A freelancer looks after themselves, but a business owner looks after so much more. And that means you have got to start thinking about operating as a business person. Look at the people you admire; what is it about them that makes them successful? It’s not necessarily about learning how to run a business, but it’s also about carrying yourself differently. You could very well be someone who hides behind emails, but now, you are front and centre. This means you’ve got to fulfil the role.
Building Your Brand
Delving deeper into thinking like a business means that you’ve got to stop promoting yourself as an individual. You need to come up with crucial selling points, especially when you are competing with other freelancers and businesses. And while setting yourself up as a business needs that you may not be competing with freelancers in the same way, you will have other companies that you are fighting with. This means that you’ve got to identify the reasons you are worth hiring over your competitors; you’ve got to figure out what your strengths are. You’ve got to consider your pricing, your likeability, as well as the people you are currently working with to help build this overall perception of a solid brand. You need to identify what you can offer, compare the skillset you have with other people, and then set yourself apart. As a freelancer, you’ve already built up a considerable portfolio. Once you have done this, start to build an online presence. You might already be looking for ways to improve your SEO, but the salient points you have already come up with are integral to your online presence. Using SEO to target customers is crucial, but you also need to be present over various channels.
Setting Up The Business Side Of Things
As a freelancer, you’ve already had a taste of the self-employed life. This means that you may already have an understanding of things like your tax return, although now you’ve got to deal further into it. There are some fantastic guides to setting up a business, and while you’ve already got some idea due to your self-employed experience, you have to remember that because setting up a business in an official sense requires extra funds, it also requires a lot more common sense from yourself. Looking after your finances is very important. Setting up a business means that you’ve got to have an adequate system in place. Learning how to manage your money effectively as a freelancer can be a shock to the system, but now, with various parts of the supply chain, as well as clients that you want to maintain a longer working relationship with, as well as those that depend on you to earn a regular wage, can mean that there’s a lot more at stake.
Setting up the business side of things means you end up biting off more than you can chew. But we have to remember that whether we are looking for a business loan, drafting our business plan, or we don’t know where to begin, there is a lot of help out there. The best piece of advice is to ensure that you know what you are getting into. This requires having a clear-cut vision of what you want to achieve with your business. You may very well feel that because you’re working as a freelancer in one area, that you’re more than confident you should continue in this vein. But the difference between a freelancer and a business owner means having a proper understanding of what you can achieve with your skills, but also, getting other people on board that fill in your skills gaps. Hiring people is one of the biggest differences between working as a freelancer and running a business. As you start to find the right people to make up for your limited skills, you start to think about the bigger picture. But you also have to remember the responsibilities involved in running a business. These people need to get paid. And there are plenty of guides online with regards to looking after employees. But it helps to start thinking about this right now. You may have no intention of hiring people right now but there may come a time where you need extra hands to steer the ship.
The Importance Of Transitioning Gently
Moving from freelancer to business owner is similar from the transition from full-time work to freelancing. You do it gradually. These days, so many people start a side hustle, and they see the side hustle take over their lives so much that they have to gradually give up their full-time income. It’s exactly the same approach when starting a business. You need to transition gradually, by finding the right clients and forming partnerships with other freelancers. This is one of the biggest lessons that anybody can learn in doing business. They may end up putting their eggs in one basket, because there’s a freelancer they’d like to work with, but that freelancer may have another idea entirely, or you just don’t gel. It’s always worth testing the waters with a project. Starting to freelance with other people, and subcontracting some of your regular work to other freelancers can help you get an idea of what can be achieved. If it goes well, you could start to work towards a more formal arrangement. You might want to just work with friends in the meantime, but after a while, the importance of maintaining a business mindset remains crucial. Working with friends is good, especially in the short-term, but when you start to really think about the long-term goals, there’s a lot more at stake.
It Can Be A Long Haul
Transitioning is essential, but when you are hell-bent on making this a success, it’s partly to do with finding the right talent, but it’s also about realising it doesn’t happen overnight. You may very well have an idea of how to run a business, but after a while, you will learn from the mistakes you’ve made. Partly, it is to do with marketing, as well as finding talent, but also realising that if you are to move forward but you’ve got to change your own attitudes. Nothing is set in stone. Running a business is as much learning about what you are capable of as it is ensuring that you make a profit. Profit could be a very fleeting notion, especially during the first 12 to 18 months.
And we have to remember the importance of transitioning so we aren’t out of pocket. Ensure that you are building up your brand, as well as learning those important networking skills means that you are are able to transition gently. But for all the differences between working as a freelancer and as a business owner, you’ve learnt a lot working as an independent contractor. Use everything you’ve learnt, as well as those contacts you have acquired over time. Some people may take you more seriously now you are a business. And when we think about the perception of the business in comparison to a freelancer, a business has far more sway. It looks more formal, and is more of a force to be reckoned with.
Depending on the nature of your business, it may be necessary on occasion to meet with clients, customers or prospective business associates.This isn’t always feasible when you are working from home. A cost effective solution could be, short term office or meeting room rental, which can often be secured on an hourly basis. It’s worth also looking into co working office space and business incubation centres. Both offer a great opportunity to network and there are some government initiatives in place, where you may be entitled to free mentor-ship and funding.
Turning a freelance career into a fully-fledged business is certainly an achievable idea. And while you can certainly understand how to set up a business in a formal sense, a lot of it is to do with your own attitudes. You may very well have to change a lot of things about how you operate in order to get this off the ground.
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