You've decided to make the jump across the abyss to self employment, but there are various things to consider and do when going freelance. There are many benefits to being self-employed but you need to be prepared to seek out new work and you will be up against stiff competition. Times may not always be good, there will be peaks and troughs so managing your finances is key. Here's 6 tips to help get you started and set you on your way:
1. Business Is Business
Keep your business life separate to your personal life. Set up a business bank account so you can track what is coming in and going out and this will help with your accounting and ensure wires don't become crossed. Set up separate business profiles on Social Media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter to keep your personal life private. Give yourself time if needed to keep up with personal accounts, so they're not distracting during your work time.
2. Keep To Your Deadlines
If you haven't practiced your time management skills then hone them now so you're working to the best of your ability. This is vital to maintain your reputation as a reliable professional. Make notes in a diary to keep track of what is required of you and when, and ensure you don't miss crucial deadlines.
3. Make Contacts
It's the same old who you know not what you know. What you know is of course useful in your job but without knowing the right people your knowledge and expertise will not stand up on its own. Seek out networking events and new jobs regularly to maintain your reputation and gain experience.
4. Keep Your Receipts And Track Your Expenses
It's vital to keep a record of any business expenses you incur along the way so that you can use these to offset against taxable income. This may include commuting and overnight stays and any expenses that are work related. It's worth having a read up on what can be claimed as you may be pleasantly surprised.
5. Prepare For The Bad Times
You may be booked up for months with work but with the economy still on the long road to recovery and seasonal changes you may find yourself out of work. Put some cash aside for those rainy days and you'll be well prepared.
6. Tell The Tax Man
The tax man needs to know that you are no longer working for someone else so it is your responsibility to tell them. This is a legal requirement and you'll receive a nice fat fine if you don't tell them. What's more you need to set aside money to pay the tax man or you'll be fined even more. If you need help with your accounts and expenses then seek help from an accountant. Whilst this may at first seem costly and time consuming you're likely to save money and time in the long run.
Turning self-employed is a brave decision. You may have the freedom to work as you chose and answer to no one, but when things get tough it may feel as though you are isolated. Remember that just because you work for yourself does not mean you have to be alone. Connect with other freelancers and build a network of support around you. Seek out advice from those who have been there and done it, even if they are in a different industry. You have the freedom to do want you want, so stay focussed, organised and work hard and you will reap the rewards.
I am co-founder and regular blogger at RotaCloud. I graduated from Durham University in the UK and like to write about running small businesses and staff management.