If you’ve been freelancing as a way to bring in a little bit of extra income on the side, you already know what a powerful form of employment it can be. After all, freelance work is work done on your own terms, defined by your timeline and schedule. It gives you the power to set your own pace and create projects you can be proud of.
After freelancing for a while, some people start to see the appeal of making their freelance gig their full-time career. If you’ve considered going into business for yourself, freelancing can be the perfect foot in the door to lead to great opportunities. Scientific Programmer has created this guide to help you figure out how to make the transition from part-time freelancer to full-time business owner. Here’s how to get started:
Protect Yourself from the Start
There are several logistical steps you should take at the very beginning of this transition to protect yourself, your assets, and your clients. For example, you should consider setting up an LLC to run your company under. This designation puts a layer of legal protection between your personal and professional assets. For programmers, this kind of designation can be invaluable. Many types of programming come with inherent risks, and it’s possible a client may sue you down the line. Even if the lawsuit itself doesn’t have legs, you’ll be happy that, in the worst-case scenario, you’re not going to lose your car or house over it.
This is a no-brainer, but we still have to bring it up. A robust cybersecurity plan should be top of mind, especially since small businesses are one of the primary targets for cyber attacks. Hackers know that brand-new businesses are often vulnerable to these sorts of attacks and will attempt to get ahold of privileged information such as Social Security numbers, bank info, and more. Once you have access to client information, security compliance is paramount.
Rely on Existing Relationships
Your best bet for turning your freelance career into a full-time business is to turn to existing relationships as your starting point. Reach out to existing or previous clients and let them know you’re creating a business, and that you’d like them to keep you in mind for any programming work they may need down the line. Not only may this lead to work with those companies specifically, but it can also lead to referrals for other opportunities.
However, it’s not always possible to turn a business-freelancer relationship into a business-business relationship. Some companies have explicit rules about only working with contracted individuals, not self-owned businesses. That may seem like a minor distinction at face value, but it has significant implications on the business’s end. If you want, you may still be able to continue doing that work; however, you’ll need to officially engage as yourself – not your business – in order to maintain the relationship.
Market Yourself Well
Finally, the best thing you can do for a budding self-owned business is to market yourself well. Start by creating a solid website you can use to engage potential customers and get them acquainted with your business. In addition to offering a menu of services, this website can serve as a host for your content marketing blog. SEO-focused posts will boost your presence online and establish your industry expertise.
You should also make room in your budget for advertising. Traditional and digital marketing avenues both offer their own unique advantages, and it’s often best to invest in both in order to see which offers the best ROI for you. Consider hiring a marketing agency to help you evaluate what means of advertising are working best for your company.
Many businesses have their roots in freelancing. If you’re looking to work for yourself and define your own path, this can be an incredible way to do it. You’ve already created your foundation – now’s the time to start building.
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