Now you’ve turned your back on regular employment: keeping your books in (some kind) of order.
Not unlike joining a cult, the act of becoming a freelancer can be pretty final. Like the beautiful and completely unique butterfly breaking free of the cocoon, you go to sleep a regular joe/jill/zorlit and wake up a PERSON OF BUSINESS – so get with the bookkeeping.
- Just as you have become one with business, so to – must your accounts.
To freelance, is to hate taxes. As such you’ll find easier (and LEGAL) ways to deal with it – or have a meltdown, buy a ford transit and take to the road like a champion leaching free wifi everywhere you go. Or plan B. you set up separate bank/savings/credit accounts for your business (it helps massively with keeping track of the ins and outs of your business). You could also just hire an accountant- do this, yes.
“That’s for ease of tracking, tax purposes and that’ll make your life a lot easier to not be commingling funds” – Storjohann.
It’s not a 100% necessity to have separate personal and business accounts, however not having them could make an already difficult situation (doing your taxes) even more so. You might also miss out on those sweet deductions. As Storjohann explains:
“If you’re traveling, and you go out for meals, those are business expenses if you’re talking about business or with a potential client. They’re not fully deductible but half deductible.”
Even if you do take the simplest option of hiring an accountant to toil away in the wasteland fields better known as “your bookkeeping system” keeping your personal and business accountants make it easy to A. pay yourself and B. save for those big business expenses like a new pc or cybernetic attack dog.
- Tax is the man… man so you like, need a system to beat the man.
Accountants come in many shapes and sizes, As such, you need to make sure what you have chained to your financial records is in fact, an accountant who specialises in freelancers/contractors and not, a Griffin (or Dragcornix, as is so often the case) I personally recommend:
- Consult the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA)
- You must not get into debt, debt is the money killer, debt is the little death that brings timeless sci-fi references.
“Based on calls I’ve done with other entrepreneurs, a lot of them have no problem going into debt with their business,” states Storjohann. “But be cautious — if taking on debt is part of your plan, then what’s your plan for paying it off?” I’ve seen a lot of freelancers (and entrepreneurs) jump on board these (often massively expensive) online coaching materials. Don’t do this.
Now you’ve turned your back on regular employment: Everything Else
When you start freelancing, you have to start thinking about the promotion of your brand, and what that actually means. It’s been my experience that people don’t always buy the product or service your offering, but they will buy you. That is to say their perceptions of you, or in other words- your brand.
- You offer services, people will pay amounts (assuming they even know your there).
People can’t request or offer work to you, if they have no idea you exist. Devoting time to marketing yourself and the services you offer is paramount, keep your portfolio and website updated and maintain an active and engaging persona on social networks (see all those cat gifs? That could be you!). The presence you maintain online can be the life blood of your business in the form of an outstanding reputation.
- Become your client’s next best friend.
If people’s perceptions of your brand combined with your reputation are what equates to business, your customer service is what equates to repeat business. Make that client feel special, go the extra mile and [insert your choice of motivational phrase here] and ensure that client will choice your services over others in the future. Not to mention the word of mouth value, which can (and will) swing both ways, remember praise can be slow moving, however negativity moves like Usain Bolt on speed.
- You, like every other Human being, are not perfect.
Never stop looking for ways to improve yourself, or the quality of the service you provide. Create effective schedules for efficient time management, constantly evaluate your performance and education levels. There really is always something more to learn, so never stop attempting to improve yourself.
4. The league of super friends.
“To freelance, is loneliness” – Wolf Vanberg, coffee induced self-depressing rant
Freelancing is an inherently lonely profession, the isolation can be very real, and very destructive to your sense of self-worth, your social life and your career. Networking IS your friend (a friend that brings more friends, it’s the never ending party) you’ll be doing it anyway to promote yourself, why not attempt to build an actual support network while you’re at it?
Skype, Twitter and Facebook are all ideal places to build communities of co-workers, other freelancers or just people you enjoy talking to. Speaking from personal experience online games such as MMO’s can be a great place to find people up at insane O’clock just like you!