Are you thinking about making the jump from employment to running your own freelancing business? There’s a lot to consider. The rewards and risks are great. But if you start from a good foundation then the sky's the limit.
So how do you build that foundation? Here are some best practices.
Make a Targeted Goal
If you’re going to run a business, it needs to have a goal beyond “make money”. Setting up a business and getting it off the ground involves long hours and hard work. You need a goal to mark when you’ve achieved success. A good end goal to start might be making enough money to meet your monthly expenses!
Even better, set up goals along the way that will serve as milestones for you to tackle. It can be something as simple as “land my first client.” But avoid huge goals like “make a million dollars.” Those are good for your vision, but the distance between where you start and that goal is too great to sustain motivation.
Choose a Niche
Now that you know what you want to achieve with your business, you need to decide how you’ll do it. Your niche is your area of business and the audience you want to cultivate. Quite often, choosing a smaller niche in something that you can specialize in can be much more lucrative than trying to appeal to as many people as possible.
However, above all, you must think about your ideas, what you want to do, and what audience you want to reach. You have to ensure that your business idea will make enough money to keep you fed and the lights on. Even if you’re deeply passionate about something, there has to be a way to make enough money in your business to survive. Passion alone will not carry you to the end, nor will a large audience. That said, passion can sometimes inspire freelancers to find ways to make it pay.
Create a Website
If you have a goal and a niche, now you need to make a website or have some sort of web presence. Most freelancers are not found through sending out a bunch of query letters anymore, though some niches still do this. Top freelancers get noticed through their online portfolios and by marketing their website.
A website gives you a place to talk about yourself and display your previous accomplishments to interested clients. It’s like an online resume for a freelancer, so you should take the time to make it look as good as you can. At the very least, it needs to be easy to navigate and provide ways for clients to get in contact with you about projects.
Get an EIN
Eventually, if all goes well, you’ll want to get paid at some point. Freelancers should consider applying for an EIN number instead of using their Social Security numbers for payment. Not only does this protect against identity theft; it’s also far more professional. In fact, you may not be able to open accounts for your business if you don’t have an EIN.
It’s easy to do. Just fill out an SS-4 form online. The IRS has instructions on how to do it and it takes just a few minutes. Once you have your number, you can use that as the tax ID number for your business and start getting paid in a more professional manner.
Forget any of these four steps and you could be setting yourself up for a fall in your freelancing venture. Make sure you have a niche that makes money, set yourself a goal to direct your actions, build a website so people can find you, and get an EIN so you can get paid. With these in place, you’ll be well on your way.