News / Top 10 Tips for Freelancers

Top 10 Tips for Freelancers

27th March 2024

In the wake of the pandemic, a phenomenon known as ‘The Great Resignation’ has unfolded globally, marking a profound shift in professional attitudes. This period has witnessed a departure from traditional employment, with many leaving secure corporate jobs to follow their passions or dive into new industries. This wave has birthed a dynamic freelance and entrepreneurial culture, where individuals are crafting futures beyond the conventional 9-to-5.

Within this transformative landscape, Formation Works emerges as a supportive pillar for these individuals and emerging companies. Our serviced office spaces are vibrant hubs of creativity and ambition, where freelancers and entrepreneurs come together to chase their dreams. Formation Works is committed to nurturing this spirit of innovation, offering a community and environment where dreams are not just welcomed but actively supported to flourish.

For those embarking on this exciting journey, Formation Works shares essential tips for launching and nurturing your freelance venture. Our guidance is tailored to empower you to bring your ideas to life, within a community that values collaboration, growth, and the pursuit of passion.

 

1. Make A Plan

It may sound like an obvious place to start but the best way to begin the process is to make a plan for your business. Lots of our recommendations below will help formulate this plan so don’t panic if you don’t know where to start. You don’t have to have a formal business plan or have your financials accounted for down to the penny, but a rough plan will help guide your progress and measure whether you’re on track.

Some things to include are:
• Research the industry you’re entering, assess how your competitors do things and identify some features which will make your offering unique.
• Identify your ideal target market and do some research as to how to best target them.
• Follow steps 2-10 below to help pad out your plan and you’ll be good to go!

 

2. Choose your business structure

There are many ways in which you can run a business in the UK but the most popular are Sole Trader or Limited Company.

Sole Trader
This is the most straightforward option and often a natural starting point for freelancers. All you need is your National Insurance Number and to register as self-employed with HMRC for tax purposes. You’ll have less paperwork, but you’ll also have less protection as other people can run their businesses with the same name as you. If you’re keen to protect our privacy though this is a good option as your address and earnings won’t be visible to the public.

Limited Company
This is often seen as a more professional option. Instead of your business being centred on you, it will be a defined business entity for which you are an employee. There is more paperwork involved and you’ll have your accounts published publicly via Companies House, but it will often be a more efficient option for tax purposes and will enable your company to scale as you grow and add staff etc.

Do your research thoroughly before deciding which option is best for you. Speak to industry peers and assess whether any of your potential customers have any stipulations that their suppliers must be from limited companies for example.

 

3. Brand Yourself

This is where you can have the most fun and express yourself. A brand name is very important in how you conduct your operation and it should be relevant to your own business and what it offers to people. You can choose to name the business after yourself but if you plan to scale up and add more staff, it may be advisable to avoid this to prevent your company looking too small.

Once you have decided on your brand name be sure to buy a relevant web domain that will allow you to build a website. Even if you don’t plan to do so right away, make sure to secure the web domains, or several of them, so that someone else doesn’t snatch them up.

If you can afford to, it is highly advisable to engage with a brand agency or experienced graphic designer to help you form a visual identity – company logo, colour scheme and brand guidelines. This will help you put your best foot forward as you enter the market. However, if budgets prohibit this, online tools such as Canva can provide a good stopgap.

 

4. Decide where you’re going to work

Deciding where best to operate your business from will depend on several factors, including financial ones. For most people, working from home provides the best starting point for a business. If you’re able to operate from a computer or laptop, working from home provides a cost-effective way to start out. Try, however, to have a dedicated space from which to work – can you convert a spare room into an office or is a garden office a possibility for example? Having a separate working environment will help you distinguish office time from personal time and help you to unwind in your free time.

However, some businesses don’t lend themselves to home working for various reasons. If your offering is service based – like a physio or dietitian – it will be more professional for people to have a neutral location in which to come for treatment. For some others, working from home provides too much distraction and if you’re serious about giving this new venture a go, an office environment might be a better option.

At Formation Works, our office spaces house a huge array of businesses from accountants and lawyers to recruitment consultants, counsellors, physiotherapists, artists, media professionals, engineers and consultants. So many of our members began their tenure with us as one or two people operations and have already outgrown their original spaces, having upgraded to bigger offices or additional space within our buildings. A shared, managed office space such as the ones we have in our portfolio, are ideal for freelancers because of the ease of our ‘plug and play’ facility and having a single bill option each month. Click here to explore more of what is on offer.

 

5. Get the financials right

Not to alarm you but many small businesses will fail within the first 12 months of their existence, so it’s important to get your finances in order. If you’re currently in full-time employment, it’s an idea to work on your new business ventures in your evenings and weekends for as long as possible so that you can start to build up a client base and gauge whether it is financially viable as a business option. It also gives you maximum time to save!

Take time to assess all the costs that will be associated with your business. Do you need to buy new equipment for example? Will you hire an office? You may also need insurances, accounting packages and potentially legal fees as well as any marketing costs. Identify which of these are ‘must-haves’ and which can follow on once the money starts to flow into your account.

On the other hand, you’ll want to think carefully about how much to charge for your products/services. If you’re very experienced in your field, you’ll want your charge to reflect this and it’s important to recognise your own worth. Do your research as to the benchmarks for charging in your industry and speak to peers about how and what they charge – hourly rates or project fees. If that’s not possible, visit sites like Glassdoor to find a benchmark. Always speak to clients about their budgets too before you commit your time to working for them. It’s important to achieve a balance between charging little enough to be competitive, whilst charging enough to make your business venture viable.

 

6. Promote yourself

Remember that you are your biggest asset – there is only you – so don’t under-estimate the importance of personal brand. Do everything you can to build the profile of your business and ask others to help spread the word in relevant ways by sharing your details of your business with those likely to avail of it.

A digital presence is important in this modern era, so invest in a website if possible – this can be done inexpensively for now using sites like Wix or Squarespace. Then use social media platforms to try and drive traffic to your website for people to find out more about what you do. How to choose what platforms will work best for your target market? The best advice is to be active where your target market and competitors are. If you have a strong following on your personal pages, make sure to share some business content there too if appropriate and invite your current followers to engage with your business profiles too.

Testimonials are a great way to help promote your business or service in a genuine way. Encourage feedback from your existing customers – or a test group of users if you’re yet to launch – and share that on your profiles. People respond best to new offerings if they know others have had successful results from them.

 

7. Build a Network

Linked with the above is the importance of building a network. This can be done more easily online but it’s important to encourage human interaction too. Build up your professional network using LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional networking site. Building a profile here can help attract new business and help make the right connections to grow your business effectively. Try and use videos of yourself – including stories on Instagram if you use that profile – as a way to engage with people you haven’t yet met. It can bring great benefits for your business to show your personality in this way.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone by attending networking events for relevant industries and try to speak out at them to give yourself the opportunity to introduce your business. You don’t need to see these events as a sale pitch, just a way to broaden your network in the hope of building new relationships which may eventually lead to new business.

 

8. Manage your time effectively

Time management can be a difficult task when you have no boss calling the shots and no clocking in procedure. This can be especially challenging in a home environment which can be littered with distractions. However, routine is important to enhance productivity and ensure you get the most from yourself every day.

Try and stick to a daily routine if possible. Have a fixed time each day that you aim to be at your desk, in your office or in your vehicle if your role involves travel. Procrastinating in the mornings could mean you lose some of your most valuable business time. Schedule some breaks and have a cut-off point in the evenings. Try and resist the urge to work late nights every night to avoid the dreaded burnout.

Having a weekly plan can prove very useful, so spend some time on a Sunday evening or Monday morning planning what needs done for the week ahead and trying to allocate your time across the week to achieving these goals. Make sure you check in with your schedule after each day to ensure you’re still on track.

However, part of the attraction of being a freelancer is the flexibility it affords you to so don’t be a slave to your plan. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go to plan either. It’s not always possible to achieve what you set out to, but you’ll find you completed other tasks that popped up unexpectedly and that’s important too.

 

9. Stay motivated

We all know the maxim ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ If you’re going to spend every waking hour working on your business, you may quickly lose the passion for it. Down time is important too – especially if you work in a creative industry – so make time for reading, listening to/playing music, watching films – whatever it is that ignites your creative spark.

Engaging with other entrepreneurs is another good way to stay motivated. Find talks and workshops related to your industry and network with the people you meet there. Watch TEDTalks and YouTube tutorials from other people who have gained success in your industry. Or if you’re in the fortunate position to work in a shared office environment, get to know the other business owners who are based there. They’ll relate to the challenges you have in getting your business off the ground and can offer advice and potentially even open doors to new opportunities for you.

 

10. Think like a business

Lastly, now is your time to think like a business, because you are a business. This idea that’s been gnawing at you for years has finally come to life and now is your time to embrace it and help it achieve its full potential. The business community is full of opportunity and with the right combination of talent, passion and dedication, you’ll smash it!

If you’re starting your freelance journey and would like to talk to our team about our shared office facilities, why not Contact Us.