The following guest post was written by Vicky Fraser. The author’s views are entirely her own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.
Anyone who has started their own business knows that it’s terribly exciting – and also that it is, on occasion, terrifying and confusing. There is a wealth of advice and information out there on making the decision to go it alone, and how to go about starting your own business.
But what if, like me, your motivation is more immediate? You don’t so much plan to start your own business as windmill into it headlong with a massive dose of enthusiasm and very little business knowledge to go on.
My motivation was The Worst Job in the WorldTM. The choice was leave, or become (more) ill – genuinely. So I left the job.
Lean on others and use your contacts
I was exceedingly lucky: some old friends who run a creative agency that I’d worked with offered me some freelance work, and my new career snowballed from there! I had always wanted to run my own business, so off I went.
Now, about 50 per cent of my clients come through the agencies I work with. These are contacts that I knew from previous jobs, courses and friendships – and they’ve proved extremely valuable.
The old cliché is true: it’s not necessarily what you know; it’s who you know. Use your contacts and if they’re not appropriate, use their contacts! Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family, too: if you’re good, they’ll know it. People prefer to do business with those they know, like and trust so start with your nearest and dearest.
Business advice and finance
I had work coming in – but now what? Like many freelancers and small business owners, I knew what I was doing when it came to writing, PR and marketing; but when it comes to the ins and outs of running your own business, I was a complete novice.
It is very easy to waste an enormous amount of time and energy on the administrative side of starting your business. Being organised about your tasks and commitments (work, study, home and leisure) is absolutely essential. Being realistic about what you can and can’t do is also key.
Consider using an accountant, especially if you’ve set up a limited company. Doing it yourself may be a false economy – work out how much your hourly rate is, then estimate how long you’ll spend on your accounts. You may be surprised. There are a number of excellent resources online – I cannot recommend SJD Accountants enough for their free advice and information, including downloadable accounts spreadsheets and freelancers’ guides. Likewise, HMRC are a mine of useful information about corporation tax and VAT – not to mention personal accounting.
Never underestimate the value of a support network. There are many and varied business networking groups out there, and there will almost certainly be at least one in your area. I attended my first local networking event recently, and it was £15 well spent (tax deductible, of course!).
Not only did I meet several freelancers (copywriters, graphic designers, photographers and others) to add to my network of talent, I met a group of like-minded, creative, friendly people who all have similar goals. They were generous with their time and experience.
Networking will gain you new contacts and new business opportunities; but it will also give you a support group who are in the same boat, facing the same issues and challenges. That’s worth its weight in gold.
My local group is the Leamington Tweetup, which is a social media-based networking group. There are bound to be similar organisations around the UK (and the world) – but the Chamber of Commerce is probably a good place to start.
Starting your own business is hard work. Let’s make no bones about it: you will work harder than you ever have in your life.
However, it will be the most rewarding work you ever do! Everything you work for is for the benefit of you and your family, rather than for your employer. There’s nothing like working for yourself to get you motivated.
Be prepared to be short of free time, and probably cash, for a while. Work hard, keep your goals in mind, and have fun. There is help and support out there, so take my advice: grab all the help you can get, and enjoy your new life.
Vicky Fraser is a freelance copywriter and marketeer based in Warwickshire. Being a science nerd undertaking a physics degree, she specialises in simplifying and clarifying scientific and technical copy but writes about all manner of things for a wide variety of clients. She blogs about science, freelancing and writing – amongst other things.