It’s an iconic American dream to trade in being a business man for being a business, man. With a push from the recession many men and women alike are finding themselves self-employed. 30 percent of America’s workforce are now working independently and depending on your situation it may be a lucrative option for you.
While being self-made is something to be proud of, it can also be very frustrating and downright scary at times. Expenses that would have been your employer’s now all fall on you. Leads are not generated for you; instead you must earn them. A lot of freelancers actually work longer hours than their 9-5 peers. If you’re up to the challenge, the benefits are aplenty, such as being in control of your own hours.
Lucky for you, we have a few people who were self-employed before joining our team and they’ve offered up several tips for getting started. If you have any tips to add, please share them with us on Twitter.
Social media cleanup
The first thing to do is cleanup your social spaces. When hiring contractors for jobs the first thing someone does is scour the Internet for your website or possibly other work that you have done, and a simple Google search can easily pull up your Facebook photos or Twitter profile. Don’t lose a gig — and therefore money — because of a social media unveiling.
Always be ready
More often than not, freelance work comes out of nowhere. You will be at family dinner and a client will call you and need your confirmation pretty quickly. If you’re not available, they have a long list of other contractors who will take the gig. If you turn down too many in a row, you become the one they know is always busy. You want to be the one they call first because you make time.
Get a smartphone
We figure most of our readers already have smartphones, but the benefit of having email on the go cannot be overstated. If you get an email for a potential gig, don’t neglect it. Answer it as quickly as possible because more often than not contract gigs are first come first serve.
Never stop networking
Every conversation you have is a chance to drop your name and what you do in someone’s ear. Heck, if you’re really slick you will even have a few of those business cards on you to leave with them. This doesn’t mean to walk around a cocktail party handing out business cards like they’re food samples at a food court. Use your best judgement.
Setup a website
Even if it’s as basic as it gets, your website needs to have a work sample of some kind and your contact information. A bio and downloadable resume are nice, too. Check out About.Me and WordPress for easy setups.
You may have gotten through college and your first couple of jobs being an organizational nightmare but that must end the day you become self-employed. Every tax form, bank statement, receipt and invoice should be neatly filed away. Come tax season you’ll thank us.
Speaking of taxes, now that you’re self-employed you need to think of all of your expenses in two ways: business or personal. Get a business bank account and keep track of everything that you spend on your business. It’s important for a lot of reasons, but the most important is taxes. Neatly and accurately keeping track of your expenses will save you (and your accountant) a lot of time come tax season. Actually, losing those receipts will even cost you money when you forget to claim certain business expenses.
Set up an office at home
Studies have actually proven that those who work from home usually put in more time than those who don’t, which you may or may not find beneficial. You may also be able to deduct some of your basic home expenses (such as your Internet and phone) from taxes if you have a home office, but we definitely recommend speaking with your CPA about that since we’re in the relaxation business.