At some stage in our careers, every one of us with a full-time job now could become an independent worker. A freelance career is typically an initial step for many people to venture into Entrepreneurship.The future of work is beginning to take a massive turn. While freelance has been considered side hustle in the not so distant past, people’s ability to retire or live life comfortably after old age is increasingly depending on how successful their “side hustle” has been. This in effect is causing the full-time job to become an afterthought for many.
Before you embark on your journey, I recommend you pay attention to these five lessons if you seek a smooth transition from a full-time job to freelancing or a fresh start. It's a great idea to get these lessons down while you still have your day job. I can’t even emphasize this enough.
I must warn that if life-long learning is not your thing, maybe this path might be a little rough for you. The learning curve while steep in the first stages could prove very profitable in the long run.
The internet has made it easy to get your business setup. You can sign contracts, file taxes and do all sorts of business management tasks online. If you can afford it, you can hire an accountant of a lawyer to handle the technical aspects of your business. Nonetheless, when you start, you will probably not have a lot of money or resources to recruit either of those professionals. You will need to learn to do most of these tasks yourself.
Here are a few things you need to make a checklist of.
- Pick a business name
- Choose the type of legal entity you want to register (Sole Proprietorships, Company, Partnership, etc.).
- Choose your offering (aka What are you selling?)
- Find out where your customers can be located
- Get a tool that will help you record expenses
- Make a list of all the contracts you need (https://www.pandadoc.com/templates/ will give you an idea)
- Open a bank account
- Make a note on how you intend to fund your business
- Learn about how taxes are done in your location (The last thing you want is to make mistakes with this).
Once you are through with all the items on the checklist above, you will need to come up with a marketing strategy. You have no business if people don’t know about it. Working on a marketing plan is a great way to research how you will make people find and know about your business. This could be done as simply as defining who your customers are, what problem your solution will solve for them and how to get them to know your solution solves their problem. You do not necessarily need to write up a 99-page document that you will set aside even before you can pronounce the word “Mississippi”. I always recommend just a few sentences and a little explanation for the parts you are likely to forget when you read through later.
Like we will always do, here’s another checklist for your marketing strategy.
- Find out how you will reach your customers (After you know where to find them from the initial checklist).
- Create social media accounts.
- Get a website (Might be a big or small website depending on your business type).
- Get a sales tool to gather leads from your website.
It is very easy to start feeling lonely at the beginning of your business journey as you are doing these all by yourself. You will not gain instant traction from your clients. You will need to put a lot of effort into engaging with everyone you gain their attention. While you are doing this, you are not trying to communicate with everyone you come across. Know who your ideal customers are and where they hang out.
Now we’ve made a lot of progress. Here’s your checklist for engagements.
- Get communication tools that will help you interact and stay in touch with your customers.
- Start engaging on social media to build your brand’s awareness.
- Get a tool that will help you create nice designs for your social media posts (eg. canva.com)
Products or Services
Build a solid offering. This means that you will need to develop your product or in the case of a services business, you will need to develop marketing materials and a portfolio (Many times, you don’t need a first customer to get your first portfolio item. You could create a list of the things you have done for yourself as a portfolio. You may also consider doing some free/cheap work where it does not hurt to build a portfolio).
How do you build a product or services to offer? Use this checklist to direct your path.
- Identify how your customers will use your product/service
- Identify how to present your product/service to your customer
- Build your product to the best of your knowledge.
- Ask for feedback and tweak your product to suit the feedback you receive from your customers.
For the initial part, you may be the one funding your business. While this is great, there is a potential for exhausting capital fast so you may need to find a way to generate passive income to take care of your personal needs while you do this. If you have a full-time job, this could be easier. You will need to allocate the money you make from your full-time job to both your expenses and to your business as investment accordingly.
At last, the final checklist is here. How do you generate passive income to stay afloat?
- Identify some activities you can do or you already do that bring income.
- Identify how much passive income you need to keep both you and the business alive.
Once you have gone through everything in these checklists, you will have a very compact business plan and a business. It is a lengthy process that requires someone with the power to take initiative to get started. Did I not mention this is not for everyone?
Your entrepreneurship journey has just begun. Take action now, the earlier you act the more your potential to make much money.