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Start Your Own Freelance Business - a Five Point Plan

Jul 3, 2008
A freelance business is often the easiest to start. You don't have to worry about employees, setting up and paying for office space, and many of the other headaches facing entrepreneurs when they're getting started with a business venture. But, that doesn't mean starting a freelance business is a walk in the park - especially if you like to think big.

Picking a Niche

Before you start your freelance business, you'll need to think about the service(s) you're going to provide. Most people will have already thought about this, but for those that haven't you need to think about what you're good at and also enjoy. If you know about design, you could consider designing. If you have management experience, you could consider management consulting. Or, if you're good at sales you could consider offering sales training or even provide lead generation.

Setting Stuff Up

Starting up a freelance business can be cheap if you're looking to do it on a budget. Some people may choose to skimp on some of the initial expenses, and fund them later on when revenue comes in. Either way, you should:

Find out whether you should set up a limited company or work as a sole trader.

Set up bank accounts and an overdraft facility.

Get a website, business email address (@businessname.com), business cards, and other marketing materials.

Speak with an accountant if you would like to outsource your accounting, or set up a bookkeeping system if you would like to do this yourself.

Get in touch with a lawyer to work out your standard terms of service.

Pricing Strategy

Freelancers usually charge an hourly rate or a per-project cost. You should think about what would work best for you, and maybe consider offering both. When you give your clients a per-project price, you should think about how many hours will be involved in the project. If the client requires regular work on an on-going basis, you could consider offering them a discount if they promise to buy a certain amount of work every week or every month. This is sometimes called a retainer. When working out your hourly rate, don't forget to take account of all costs like: paying your accountant; spending time marketing your business; banking expenses; traveling costs; and, of course, your wages.

Marketing

When you work from home it might be hard to invite clients to your home to discuss business. Instead you should try and make appointments over the telephone and go and meet potential clients at their office. Before you start spending money on advertising, or making cold calls, consider talking to your existing network. People who already know you can be a great source of direct business, referrals and getting your name out there.

Moving Out Of the Bedroom

If you see your freelance business as a stepping stone to setting up a consultancy or agency, then you need to think big if you're going to finally stop doing your work from home and get an office. You need to make provisions to ensure your business is going to scale. That means thinking about whether your pricing is high enough to cover costs like rent, rates and administration when you move out of your home. If not, then how are your clients going to feel when you increase your costs in the future?
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