Thinking About Going Full-Time On Your Freelance Hustle? Here’s What You Need
Turning your freelance hustle into a full-time business isn’t exactly an easy thing. Many freelancers aspire to go pro and would like to earn a real full-time income from their freelance work. They often find that the leap from freelancer to running a profitable business can be a hard one to make.
However, starting a business without backup funding can prove difficult, as you may take time before your venture takes off. The first step to starting your own business is to determine whether you have the financial means to support yourself.
Whether you are a freelance consultant, graphic designer, or retailer, you may want to make the transition to a business. Here are some steps you can take to do it.
1. Find your niche and specialize
When you’re working as a freelancer, it’s easy to be tempted to do a little bit of everything. When someone offers you an opportunity that you’d like to take advantage. It can seem like killing two birds with one stone if you’re already covering that area of expertise anyway. So why not take on that project?
The answer is: because the more you spread yourself thin, the more diluted your strengths and your work product become. You need to be great at something more specific your niche is, the better you can be at it.
This might seem counterintuitive at first—after all, aren’t the most successful businesses in their fields the ones with large portfolios of services? Sure they are—but they’ve honed these into their specialties over time by narrowing down what they offer and refining their approach to each element.
And this makes sense: specialization means more time invested in your work and deeper knowledge and experience in that field. If you want to be recognized for what you do best, this is essential.
2. Handle the legal side of things
Starting a business from scratch is always a daunting prospect. There are so many things to consider: what kind of company structure to form, what kind of accounting software to use,
how to market the business, how to price your services, and how much money you’ll need on hand to start out. And then there’s something else that often isn’t talked about as much: the legal side of things.
So many startups fail because of legal problems that pop up, and it can be a real challenge for new business owners to stay on top of all the laws in their areas.
However, there are ways to make it easier on yourself, and one of those is outsourcing. Many states offer programs intended specifically for startups, such as help with finding affordable health insurance or guidance with tax filing.
You may also be able to take advantage of government loans or grants. Even though you’re starting a business on your own, there are still lots of ways you can take advantage of resources designed with small businesses in mind.
3. Seek financing
The resources you have now may affect your ability to scale. Maybe you’ve started to outgrow your apartment kitchen with your baking hobby. Or maybe you can no longer handle the volume of orders you’re getting.
There comes the point when you can no longer do everything yourself. You might need funds to hire employees or purchase extra equipment. To secure the funding you need, you have a few options.
One way to secure funding is to apply for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. The SBA is a U.S. agency that works with various lenders to provide loans for small businesses.
The most common type is a 7(a) loan with longer repayment terms than traditional bank loans.
Business Line of Credit
Another option is to apply for a business line of credit, a type of loan that gives you access to short-term capital. These loans tend to have lower credit limits, but they’re typically offered as unsecured debt, so you don’t need to put up any collateral.
Finally, you can reach out to private investors to get funding for your business. Ways to find investors include turning to social networking sites like LinkedIn and online fundraising platforms like AngelList.
4. Focus on networking
Once you have a small portfolio of past work to show prospective clients, the next step is to start establishing yourself as a person who can do the kind of work they need.
While this may seem like it will take a lot of time, you actually have an advantage because you aren’t tied down with a full-time job. The hours are flexible and this allows you to be more social and reach out to more people.
The best way to get new clients is through people who already know and trust you. When people hear about your business from someone they know and trust, they feel comfortable working with you—they know what kind of work you do, what kind of person you are, and so on.
They’re more likely to hire you because they don’t have to go through the time-consuming process of getting to know a new person: they already know and like that person. So when building your network, focus on connecting with those people who are already connected to the people who will become your clients.
Another thing you can do is find an online community that is related to your field. This could be social media groups, forums, or even sites where people post jobs like Elance or Odesk. Whatever type of group it is, you can ask questions about how to do things in your industry or even offer to help out for free if it means getting your name out there. It’s important that you don’t just jump in with both feet asking for work right away though, so make sure before any engagement that everyone is on the same page about what they’re getting into.
It’s not easy—and it takes patience and hard work to get there—but the benefits will be worth the effort.
5. Use automation software
One of the most important aspects of running any company is administrative work — creating purchase orders, recording expenses, paying suppliers, managing inventory, etc.
But spending time on administrative tasks means less time for things that directly impact your bottom line, like finding new clients and coming up with new campaigns. For this reason, you’ll want to cut down on manual tasks as much as you can.
For example, bringing on new freelance clients typically means creating contracts each time before you get to work. This helps iron out details like payment terms and project deliverables.
Using contract management software allows you to create a more streamlined process that you can apply to new projects. It also enables you to store contracts in a single location, so you can find important documents right away.
This is just one example of how you can use automation software to streamline repetitive tasks. If software doesn’t suit your needs, you can look out for virtual administrative assistants who can assist you and meet your specific needs, allowing you to reduce administrative tasks and free up more time
6. Consider your options and move forward with confidence
In the end, turning your freelance hustle into a full-time business will likely remain an attainable goal as long as you avoid becoming discouraged.
Use your business plan to set goals that, when pursued, will help you reach your ultimate vision of success. Understand what it takes to be successful from the start and develop a consistent approach that will carry you all the way to profitability.
After all, the path to success is never easy or straightforward. You will face many bumps in the road along the way, but if you are determined to learn from any mistakes you might make, and to approach your work with a professional attitude and mindset, you can turn that freelance hustle into a successful full-time business.