Think you’ve got what it takes to run a small business or freelance operation? While on the surface it may look like an easy thing to do, it’s not quite as simple as it looks. To truly be an effective and efficient business owner, there are several key skills you need to learn and hone. Not only will this ensure compliance with business legalities in your local area, but it will make sure you’re also using acceptable business practices, regardless of your products or services.
According to the Freelancers Union, more than 53 million Americans are working as Freelancers. That’s about 34% of the entire workforce. Annually, freelancers are contributing $715 billion to the U.S. economy.
Freelancing comes with its own set of difficulties, such as finding steady clients, getting paid on time and at the rates you deserve, finding time to work on a regular basis, meeting the demands of family life and creating the ideal work/life balance, and more. Many freelancers struggle to find balance between everything, however, for those that do, freelancing can more lucrative than working a traditional job.
As a freelancer or another small business owner, you’re tracking income and expenses. You’ll have to deal with filing taxes, and though you can outsource that to an expert, online accounting help is available. The more you can do on your own throughout the year, the easier it will be when it is time to file quarterly and annual returns.
Human Resources (HR)
Small businesses, even one-person freelance ventures need to stay up to date with current HR trends. It’s a good idea to learn about trends larger businesses are using to keep themselves productive and efficient, so you can do the same types of things in your business, especially since staying motivated and finding the time for a consistent work schedule are important.
Banking & Finance
To make your accounting easier, you need to be aware of various banking policies, payment processors, fees, etc. This is especially true if you are working with international clients where wire transfers, PayPal payments, and various other payment methods are an issue.
Startups & Investing
Though you may not have any plans to grow and expand your business right away, you never know what the future holds. Learning about startups and investing allows you to be ready to grow your business if demand arises. You’ll know more about your financing options, so you can decide if you want to bootstrap the entire operation, or if you’d rather seek investors to assist you.
Marketing and Negotiation
To deal with the feast or famine challenge of work, it’s a good idea for freelancers to understand the principles of marketing. Until a reputation for quality work in your field is established. it’s difficult to expect the work to come to you. While you can spend time every day looking for work and applying for various jobs, it’s a better investment of your time to market your skills to the employers who are looking for freelancers like you.
And to keep yourself from being paid according to your worth, mastering the art of negotiation. While you can’t always win every battle, at least know your bare minimum demands. If you can’t get the pay you’d ideally want, see if you can make other concessions, in regards to deadlines, deliverables, etc. Create a win-win situation for yourself and the client, and you can foster a successful long term relationship.
As a freelancer, it’s okay to ease yourself into learning each of these skills. Focus on making improvements to how you run your business, and you will see dramatic gains in productivity and efficiency. With these gains, you’ll be able to contribute more to the economy and keep your freelance enterprise running for years to come.