I’m really excited you guys. I’m excited because I’ve noticed more and more fellow bloggers are setting up their own businesses and I’m HYPED that others in the community are taking the leap. Not just because it makes me feel a bit less alone in the whole thing, but also because it’s such a great feeling when you decide to take such a risk.
Because regardless of whether you feel fully prepared or not prepared at all – starting a business is a BIG risk.
I’ve been working for myself since September now, and in addition to trying to market myself to get work, I’ve also been working on getting my ducks in a row so that when the work does come flooding in (fingers crossed, 2018!), I won’t be running around and flapping like a headless chicken.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in “putting yourself out there” (which is obviously important), but there are quite a few essentials that I’ve found out you should really have in place asap.
Registering as self employed
To some this may be a no-brainer, but if working for yourself is completely new to you it may not be clear on exactly HOW to take that first step and let HMRC know that you’re a #boss now.
When I was looking in to registering as self employed, the first roadblock I hit was not knowing whether to be a sole trader or limited company.
This article is a really good resource for weighing up the pros and cons of each option. I ultimately decided to initially set up as a sole trader, as I can always change at a later stage – but this isn’t necessarily the right set up for everyone!
As a sole trader, I will be responsible for submitting a self-assessment tax return. You need to register for this service and you can do it online or via the post. I expect I’ll be doing mine online with the help of an accountant when the time comes!
Covering yourself with the right insurance
I promise the boring bits are almost over. I put off getting insurance longer than I care to admit, and it was only after getting some very concerned looks from a business advisor that I finally put my skates on and got it done. As a freelance copywriter, the two types of insurance I have are Professional Indemnity and Public Liability.
Professional Indemnity – Basically, if a client decides to sue you for a loss of profit, this insurance helps to cover any costs, expenses or any damages or costs that may be awarded.
Public Liability – this covers if any one is in any way injured by your business operations, or if you damage other property whilst carrying out your work.
You might initially think neither of these policies are really necessary for your new business – but should an issue arise without this cover you could end up losing everything you’ve built up. It’s especially important if you’re a sole trader as you and your business are not separated, so should a case end up putting you in debt, your own personal possessions could be taken.
OK, now the dull (but v v important) part is over.
Creating a portfolio website
You guys, you have no idea how much I agonised when trying to build my website. Admittedly I am super happy with it now so it was worth the effort, but it doesn’t need to be overly complex. Have a homepage that outlines what you do, a services page for more detail about what you do, a portfolio or clients page to showcase your work and any testimonials. Finally, have a contact page so people can get in touch!
If you don’t have much work to showcase for the time being, consider creating your own brief or concept and using that to show off your skills. For example, if you’re a graphic designer who wants to work with food companies, create your own brand and assets to demonstrate what you’re capable of.
Don’t agonise too much over testimonials at first. You may choose to do some pro-bono work to get some feedback which is totally fine but be wary of offering too much for free as no one is obliged to give you a testimonial unfortunately! I have worked on big projects for clients and never got a review from them – it’s a pain in the arse but at least I got paid.
Putting together a business plan
No really, the boring part IS over. A business plan doesn’t have to be a yawnsome af Word document that’s a million pages long. I used to think it did, but then I met with a business advisor who showed me this awesome business plan template which actually made the process so much more creative, enjoyable and tangible. Business plans don’t have to be all cashflow forecasts and dull statements.
At first I was worried that a business plan was too “set in stone” but I now realise it’s just about helping you to ensure you are heading in the right direction. It helps to give you focus. Here’s the business plan template I’ve used to put mine together (although admittedly it is still a work in progress!). Having at least the foundation of a business plan can also help you when pitching for new clients at networking events or via cold calls or emails.
Oh and btw, the business advisor service is completely free and I have gained so much value from it. I use Coast2Capital but your local area may have another initiative for small businesses/start ups.
Joining Facebook groups
I know right?! Facebook is actually useful for something that isn’t stalking your old school pals! I am a member of several Facebook groups and I find them really handy for networking, asking for advice and generally that lift you need when you feel a bit alone in this whole “being your own boss and working from home” bubble.
Here are a few groups I recommend checking out:
- Freelance Heroes – this is a fab UK based community with freelancers from all different industries and walks of life. It’s so useful for asking questions about things you’re unsure about, or getting advice about a difficult situation you might be in with a client.
- UK Business Women – this is a great group for motivation. They also occasionally encourage people to promote what they do and also look for opportunities to collaborate. Whilst it’s not as active as the Freelance Heroes group, it’s a nice friendly and supportive community.
- The Freelance Lifestylers – another really friendly group of people, open to asking and answering questions so you feel less alone in your problems and concerns! This group is run by a lady called Emma who also posts fun prompts onto the group for when you need a little downtime from your work.
By doing these five things you can get ahead of the game – there are other useful things to get out of the way that I shall save for a future post because over 1,100 words is plenty for now dontcha think?