For some reason freelancing or contracting has piqued your interest. You may already be a freelancer or have decided to investigate this lifestyle for the first time.
You may have recently retired, been packaged out or decided you have had enough of corporate life. You may be in between full-time jobs and want to keep yourself active and make some money. Alternatively, you may prefer the freelancer lifestyle from day one of your career and decide to skip the whole corporate landscape altogether. Either way, there are some best-practices to consider that may help you get started or thrive within this growing category of employment.
- Define your Value Proposition – one of the first things you need to do is research the market and carve out your unique value proposition. What are you good at? What area do you have the most experience and credibility in the market? Who else is out there? What is your price point positioning? Who are you targeting and why? How big is the prize and what is the demand in your proposed segment? What skills or certifications do you need?
- Manage your brand – when you freelance you become a brand. One could argue you are a brand long before this point but it is even more important now. Based on your positioning above, should you have a logo? What is your message on business cards, social media, letterhead, in-person, etc ? What do you want clients to think about when they think about you? How do your market your brand?
- Network like crazy – once you decide freelancing is for you, you need to let people know you are in this business. You need to attend events, reach out to former colleagues and join groups and other freelancing communities (insert shameless plug for www.retailadvisorsnetwork.com). At first your gigs may come from your inner circle of colleagues you worked with but to be successful you will need to broaden your target market to business within your state, province, country or continent.
- Consider Incorporating – depending on your country, state or province and other local laws you may want to consider incorporating as a business. This allows you to take full advantage of lower tax rates for small businesses, write off a portion of your business operational expenses, shelter earnings for family trust products and limit your personal liability. It is usually fairly economical to incorporate and may be worth it in the long run if you plan on doing this for a while.
- Adjust your lifestyle and expense base – once you decide to proceed down this road it can be easy to burn out. Either through the stress and efforts of getting that next project or from working too many projects at once or back to back without a break. This world is not for the faint of heart and by definition you may want to lower your expense base so that you can survive through the dry periods. It usually takes a little while to make decent money. You may not have a steady pay cheque so manage spending carefully.
- Balance your life! – Make sure to take full advantage of the lifestyle benefits that freelancing can have. Sometimes you can work at home or work at different hours of the day. You can manage to your own schedule and sequence projects with breaks in between to go on vacation or spend some time with family and friends. You can carve out time to work out or drive your kids to school or aging parents to the Doctor. You can take time to eat healthy and invest in relationships. This is one of the biggest advantages to the gig economy so make sure that you are using this benefit to its full extent.
Tony Whitehouse & Bruce Winder are co-founders and partners at Retail Advisors Network™ Marketplace , a retail freelance and contractor marketplace dedicated to the retail and merchandise supplier industry. They have a combined 60 years experience at big retail as well as consulting and freelancing. Visit them at www.retailadvisorsnetwork.com.