If you want to become a freelancer and write your own ticket in life, there are lots of things to consider. Freelancing is about as close to the American dream as it gets; as long as the dream includes making lots of money and having to answer to no one. Unfortunately that isn’t how it always works. Many times we look at freelancers and the businesses they start and only see the end results-the successful enterprises they worked so very hard to establish. And make no mistake, there is a lot of hard work that goes into any successful business.
Many times your hours will be long, the work will be lonely and the money won’t be that great. Are you willing to give up your steady paycheck for this? Search yourself and your motives and answer this question as honestly as you can. Along the freelance road, expect a bumpy ride, but also know that if you hang on and refuse to give up, you’ll one day get to live your dream of the freelancing life.
Imagine yourself working out of your own home office at your beach house or in your mountain cabin. Allow yourself to dream and remember always to think positive; both of these will go a long way in keeping you focused. Millions of entrepreneurs before you have started small and made it bib; you can too!
1. Recognize the Disadvantages
Being able to work out of your home and actually make a living at it is a great opportunity. But before you go jumping into this great opportunity, there are some things you should know. When you set up you’re an office in your home, it’s a challenge not to let family life interfere. As a work at home person, you’ll have to deal with family members who may not respect your hours or your situation. Well-meaning friends may drop in, disturbing your routine, neighborhood noises like barking dogs, delivery people and trash trucks can be noisier than you ever thought possible. And of course, your kids; you love them, but they will have to be taught to respect and live with your new work schedule. These are just a few of the hurdles you’ll have to clear when you set out to work at home.
2. Decide What Kind of Business is Right for You
When I started my work at home career, the first question I asked myself was what did I really want to do? What did I feel I was good at, what did I know I was good at, what were my strong points, when I pictured myself working from home, what did I see myself doing? I knew I was a writer at heart, and I knew that’s what I’d been dreaming of doing for years. So for me, the answer was easy, but if you aren’t sure what you would like to work at, then start by asking yourself what kind of things you’re interested in. Make a list of things and then narrow it down to your top three; now which of the three you can actually see yourself doing. That is the one you’re most likely to succeed at.
3. Try Working in a Related Field
As another tactic to help you find out where your talents lie, take a job or volunteer in a field you think you’d like to work in. For example catering, real estate, interior design; working in the field you find interesting is a great way to get to know that career. You’ll find out things you didn’t know, some good, and some bad. If it turns out that you like what you’re doing, you could make contacts for your future business. Your boss may even recommend you to his or her clients; overall, working in your field ii a great business move and a great way to prepare yourself for success in your future venture.
4. Ask Yourself Where You’ll Work
Will you be going to customer’s homes or will they be coming to you? For instance with an interior design business, you’ll be going to customers’ homes, but with a tax service, people will come to you. With still other businesses, you could be involved in a mix of both, sometimes going to your customers homes and sometimes meeting them in your home or at a neutral place. With certain businesses, you’ll need to be sure you have adequate parking for customers, and with most home businesses you’ll need to make sure you have a separate place in your home so you can work undisturbed.
5. Do Your Research
Find out if people need the service or product you plan to offer and if they’re willing to pay for it. If you were a large corporation you’d hire a market research firm and pay them thousands of dollars for this information; another alternative is to do your own much smaller market survey. Start by targeting your potential customers; you can do this with a visit to your local chamber of commerce. The chamber can give you statistics about the income level of people in your town, age levels and number of folks in a household and spending trends. You might also conduct a quick survey of similar businesses in your area to find out who their customers are.
6. Make a Business Plan
Think about your business goals, expenses and how much you plan to charge for your services. Also lay out a plan for how you will get customers; what kind of advertising will you use? Putting your business plan on paper will help your dream become a reality and get you moving in the right directions. Start by writing down everything you can think of about your business, and then refine and revise it as you continue writing it. Check out your local library and go online for information about business plan basics. Another great resource is the Small Business Development Center (SBDC); there’s most likely one in your area.
7. Know Your Business Objectives
Be very honest with yourself about what your objectives for your business are; ask yourself what you hope to accomplish and what you really want. This goes for your business as well as for your personal life. Write down your short-range and your long-range objectives, which can include things like setting up your home office or applying for a loan to get the business up and running. Then, keep reviewing and revising your objectives as often as you can; you may be surprised how things can change.
8. Identify Your Customers
Who will your customers be? Will they live locally, or on the other side of the globe? Check out all communities in your area as well as online. Don’t be discouraged if your research doesn’t come up showing what you want it to; there are millions of people in the world and you can reach a fair amount of them. Investigate colleges and even military installations, and don’t forget churches and other community groups.
9. Know Which Advertising Works
You need to be able to communicate to your potential customers about your service or product. The better your communication, the more business you’ll have coming your way. It’s a process of trial and error to know what kind of advertising is going to work the best for you. Some advertising is free and some is paid. If you choose to put money into your advertising, you might start with classified and display ads in your local newspaper or online. You can also put ads in magazines and on the radio. Free advertising can include giving seminars and putting out press releases. Both methods will work, it just depends on which one you choose.
10. Set up Bookkeeping
You might need to enlist the services of a financial advisor when it comes to setting up bookkeeping for your business. Financial advising is a growing field that caters to small and home-based businesses. They can help you find startup money, set up your bookkeeping and even help you keep it going smoothly. A good financial advisor will also be able to help you by suggesting ways to manage your business and even facilitate your expansion.
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