It’s exciting going into business for yourself, whether you’ve established a small company or set yourself up as a freelancer. As liberating as it can be to become self-employed, however, it’s also a risky move to make. As an individual who works for themselves, you are responsible for sourcing your income and must have good discipline and determination. You must be organized and confident enough to promote yourself to potential customers and clients. If you’re thinking about going into business for yourself, or have recently taken that step, here are five tips you might find useful.
If you fall behind and fail to pay your taxes on time, you will be fined. This is why it’s important to stay on top of your accounting records and keep them somewhere safe. You can hire the help of a professional accountant if you think you will find that easier. Alternatively, there are online bookkeeping programs that can do the same and might be more cost-effective for you. Whatever you do, make sure you are putting enough aside to pay your taxes and that you keep a record of all your expenses and sources of income.
Invoices and Purchase Orders
Following on from accounts, you need to make sure that your invoices and purchase order forms are clear. Customers will need these for their records and so will you; therefore, using a simple design for these is best. You can download a free printable purchase order template online if this is easier than designing your own — invoice templates are also available if needed.
Purchase orders should include your business name and address as well as the customer details. This includes an itemized list of the products they have bought, a subtotal and an indication of the VAT amount. A date and purchase order number should also be included. Invoices are very similar, although they should include the bank account details you wish the money to be paid into.
Having a website is the perfect way to showcase what your business does or what freelancing services you provide. For the latter, it’s an opportunity to create an online portfolio which will be important for proving to potential clients your ability to do good work.
If you’re a business, you should include an eCommerce function on your website if you’re selling goods such as jewelry, artwork, ceramics, clothes, etc. You can use online website builders to do this, and which are friendly for all kinds of budgets. Alternatively, if you have the money to spend, you could also hire a professional website developer for a more unique layout. Whatever you choose, make sure that the website functions properly and is easy for people to navigate.
As well as having a professional website, you should be using social media platforms to further promote yourself. LinkedIn is useful for professional networking and keeping informed about industry news, while Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are important platforms used by the general public as well as businesses. You can use these for marketing purposes and to engage with your clients and customers. There are marketing tools available on some of these sites which you can also pay to use. You have the option of choosing your spending limit on these tools however, making it suitable for various budgets.
Networking & Pop-up Events
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, part of being self-employed is having the confidence to promote yourself and secure work. Networking events are a wonderful opportunity to meet new potential clients as well as other professionals in your field. You could set up a collaboration project with another freelancer to expose your work to a wider audience. You could also be in the right place at the right time, meeting a potential client who is looking for a professional like you for a specific project.
Pop-up events are great for selling your products to new customers. Small independent markets are very popular and can be great exposure for your business. If you manage to get a regular stand at one of these, it’s a chance to become a popular feature and will get people talking. Beyond markets, there are also business events and festivals you can take part in. Make sure your stand at these events catches people’s eyes and represents your business well.
There’s a lot more to think about when working for yourself, but these five tips are a good place to start. The most important thing is to stay positive and passionate about what you do.