If being your own boss is the dream you’re finally living, make sure it’s properly protected with our top tips below.
- You don’t know the worth of your services
Accurate pricing is probably the toughest part of the job to crack. You don’t want to charge too little as you’ll end up with work that’s not worth your time, and charging too much could make it difficult to find suitable clients. Taking the time to do thorough research will end up paying for itself. Find out what freelancers in your industry are charging, and price accordingly.
Hint: Charge per project, not per hour. Why? Imagine finishing a job in half the time you’d set aside. Sounds great, but it also means you’re cutting your earnings in half. Charging per project helps safeguard against the unforeseeable.
- You’ve forgotten about your tax bill
The last thing you want is to be caught short at the end of the tax year. Squirreling away some cash per pay packet will ensure you have enough to cover your tax bill, and if you’re really good, have a little left over to treat yourself. If you’re unaccustomed to taking care of your finances in such a meticulous way, the technical things can sometimes sneak up on you. The key to success? Plan, plan, and plan again. To get an idea of what you’ll need to pay and when, speak to an accountant in the early stages of your business rather than at year-end as it’ll stand you in good stead for the whole year, and your stress levels will thank you for it.
- You don’t have the right insurance in place
Yes, insurance matters. In fact, sometimes it’s essential depending on your industry, and will always serve as peace of mind if the worst should happen. For example, if a client decides the work you’ve produced isn’t up to scratch and has cost the business money, having professional indemnity insurance cover in place can help cover the cost of expensive legal fees.
- Your web presence is an afterthought
Much like doing thorough research to price your services accurately, investing time in your web presence will pay for itself. Take time to establish your voice on social media. Start a blog where you can practice, write about, and show off your skills in a public space. Make sure your website looks clean and sharp, and that your work or portfolio is easily accessible. Think of it this way – you only get one chance to make a first impression. If you’d hesitate to hire yourself, maybe it’s time to redecorate.
- Breaks? What breaks?
If you’re fully invested in a project and love the work you’re doing, it’s easy to lose track of time. Make sure you take regular breaks to keep your output running at maximum capacity. That could mean stretching your legs every couple of hours, or if you’re working long days to hit a deadline, don’t be afraid to take a whole day to yourself midweek once the project is finished. Some regular you-time will go a long way, and you’ll find yourself working smarter, and harder, because of it.
Hint: If a project overruns, or you’ve been asked to take on extra work, remember to adjust your pricing to match. If you’re uncomfortable with bringing the subject of money up, make sure there’s a clause in your contract that covers it. It’ll save you from having any potentially awkward conversations, not to mention the time and money wasted on renegotiating.
- Everything gets left to the last minute
Being your own boss takes restraint and self-discipline. Boiled down, you’re responsible for your time and the quality of work being produced. Leaving everything to the last minute puts both of these things in jeopardy – and if you’d like to be on the client’s speed dial for any future projects, treat your day like a regular workday. Leaving your house at 9am and returning five minutes later to ‘start work at your workplace’ may help you get into the swing of things. Although it’ll take some getting used to, a routine will be nothing but beneficial.
- Don’t just take their word for it…
If you’re new to freelancing, you might be anxious to snap up any opportunity that comes your way. That could mean working for less than you thought, or it could mean that you’re willing to accept payment once the job is complete. But what if the unthinkable happens, and the client becomes unreachable once they’ve received your work? Make sure this doesn’t happen by asking for half now, half later. It’s an entirely reasonable, sensible way to do business, and puts everyone’s mind at rest.
- You’re not actively asking for referrals
Clinching some high-profile clients and contracts might look great on a portfolio, but they’re incomplete without a referral, recommendation or testimonial. If you’ve slaved for hours perfecting your work to the highest standard, don’t be afraid to ask for some recognition. Imagine getting a call one day saying you’ve come highly recommended – it beats cold emailing your details over to prospective clients any day.