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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Jacobson

Kick Off Your Freelance Career With These Five Tips

In this current economic climate, it's more important than ever to diversify income if you can. If you have the entrepreneurial bug and feel ready to launch your freelance business, here are a few tips from We Are Boosters Founder, Meredith Jacobson, that will set you up for success:

Don't Feel Pressure to Make an LLC or S-Corp From Day One

When I started my business, I convinced myself that I needed to be legally covered with contracts and a business entity before I won a single client. What this translated to was me spending a ton of time, effort, and money up front (when I was least in a position to be doing so) for resources that I wouldn't end up needing for almost a year. My recommendation to folks starting out now is to hold off on investing in these things until you've earned at least $5k in revenue or proven your business model by signing at least two clients for longer than a 3 month scope.

If you can, it's best for you to start a freelance business while you're still employed. It can take a while to land clients and start earning enough revenue to replace the income of a full time job. If you have decided to start freelancing after being laid off, consider taking on a part time job (ideally, in an industry where you can meet cool people! Think coffee shop or co-working space) to guarantee income right off the bat. Also, sometimes having time constraints enables the most productive use of your "free" time.

Learn the Difference Between Inexperience and Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is among the top reasons people are hesitant to start their own businesses. For many (especially women), Imposter Syndrome holds us back, because we're afraid we, "can't do it." However, if you've found yourself in the position of wanting to start your own business, it's likely because you've identified a market need or an area where you can bring value. If you enter the marketplace and start encountering opportunities that you don't feel confident about, try to understand the root of that concern. If it's because you genuinely don't know how to approach the opportunity and provide value, it's inexperience. If it's because you're afraid you'll mess it up or you think there's someone better for the job, that's likely imposter syndrome. Overcome those fears by going into the situation leaning into your strengths, relying on what you already know, and drawing boundaries around what you are unable to do. When you own what you know and use it to support to those who lack that perspective, you will provide value every. single. time.

Define Your Services

One of the hardest things about going from full-time to freelance is to view yourself as a business, rather than an individual. It's often much easier to have a defined role and purpose within a larger company, but when you're an individual looking to sell yourself as a business, it becomes a mental exercise in itself to establish what you are selling. When I first started my business, the most useful thing I did was created a "menu" of services. I listed out at a high level everything I could offer as a freelancer. Then, I took it to the next level, by fully articulating what each service would entail when a client decided to hire me. This gave me a clear understanding of who I was as a service provider, which is different from who I am as a person. It also helped me rule out the types of projects I realized I wasn't even interested in selling in the first place!

Network, Network, Network

Constantly meet new people. Leads come from the most unexpected places, so no new conversation is a waste of breath. When you meet new people, let them know what services you offer, but be sure to expand the conversation beyond just your goals. Get to know them, figure out where they're at and how you might provide value. Perhaps they don't need your services, but they've been looking for a great restaurant recommendation in a city they're about to travel to that you've spent some time in. Pay attention, treat everyone with kindness and respect, and always look for opportunities to provide value. When you meet someone new, be sure to follow up from time to time (not too often!) but try to maintain relationships organically, not just when you need something.

Prepare for Rejection

If you're doing things correctly, you will get ghosted, you will lose business to other vendors, and you will have regrets. Some you'll learn from, some will hurt, and others will leave you completely perplexed. It's all part of the process, so you just have to accept it and ride the waves. If you stick with it, you'll eventually look back and appreciate how far you've come.

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