Working from home is one thing, but being able to work for yourself is another. Being self-employed can be scary, and getting started can be surrounded by uncertainty. However, working for yourself can be simple to start, so long as you know the steps to take to achieve the success you’re looking for.
This post can give some helpful tips on how to work for yourself and some things to consider if you’re looking into these career paths.
How To Work For Yourself
Working for yourself is a great avenue to create independence and freedom in your work life. As industries and the workforce keep changing, more people are looking to diversify their incomes and create their own work schedules.
However, knowing how to work for yourself can be challenging. It can take time to figure out where to begin, who to talk to, or which first step to take.
1 – Educate Yourself
You must understand the industry regardless of your chosen business plan or industry. Educate yourself on the following:
- Workplace trends – what people are looking for and do you have the answer to their problems.
- Type of demands of the job – skills needed, contacts that would be helpful, specific experiences or years of work required.
- Level of education – look for online classes or courses to boost this aspect of your resume if you need to!
- Cost to get started – not all industries or jobs are created equally. Know how much it will take to start and maintain your self-employed business. Look into insurance protections, legal paperwork, and the like.
When you work for yourself, you are your own boss, and you must be as prepared as possible before launching your business.
2 – Network & Build Your Client List
Building contacts is a huge part of working for yourself as it encourages more and more clients to think of you when they need your area of expertise.
You can build contacts in so many ways. For instance, attend networking events to build relationships with clients and others in your field of work. Meeting people face-to-face can seem quite daunting with this modern-day technological life we all lead, but it adds a more personal touch when a client knows who you are as a person, not just a picture on a screen.
Events are good for building contacts and great for keeping up to date with what is happening in your area of work and how things are changing. It is always essential to stay relevant and keep up with trends when working freelance so that you don’t get pushed out by competitors.
Pro Tip: One of the most important things to remember when building your client list and networking is how you treat your existing customers. Existing clients are a huge factor when building contacts, as they are more likely to recommend you to their friends and family. Word of mouth is a solid promotional strategy, so bear that in mind!
3 – Develop An Online Presence
Everyone is online nowadays, and clients and colleagues are no exception. When you want to gain a customer or get hired for a job, you’ll likely do your research online to vet the person hiring you. In the same way, those looking to hire will look for you online to learn more about you.
Start a website, create a social media presence and build your online professional status.
This is not just a one-time thing. As you work and finish more jobs, or create a cadence for yourself, talk about it on social media! Post across multiple platforms to extend your reach to potential customers. Use hashtags and support your brand message through regular posts about what you’re doing and about. It’s a great way to push yourself to get your name out there, advertise, and attract more clients.
Platforms that aren’t even necessarily dedicated to business promotions are still important. For example, LinkedIn is a significant social media platform to stay present and up to date on, as this is a dedicated business website with thousands of clients and competitors using it. A personal and business page lends credibility to you and provides another avenue to build your business online.
4 – Continually Update Your Resume
Make a note of everything on your resume. Write it down as you bring in work or gain experience in different areas! Every bit lends itself to your skillset and should be out there for future clients to see.
This carries over into your online presence as well. As you update your physical resume, update sites like LinkedIn as well. Some people will see your potential online and reach out to you themselves.
Advertising yourself like this can be daunting and bring about feelings of imposter syndrome. However, how will anyone know unless you toot your own horn and promote what you can do?
5 – Create Branding Materials
When clients come calling or when you’re trying to attract them, you need to have something to show them. The best way to be prepared is to create branding and promotional materials.
Put together a packet with the following:
- Media Kit: list your services and pricing and how you will add value to your clients
- A cover letter and resume
- Samples of previous work
- Details about any freebies or package upgrades you may offer
- If relevant, design and purchase business cards, logos, brochures, etc.
Having a simple packet like this ready to go can save you a lot of time. Potential clients will always want to see examples; everyone needs to know how much you charge! A little bit of time spent on professional branding materials can help nail jobs and improve your overall image.
6 – Ensure Legal Protections
When working for yourself, you must protect yourself! Have an LLC, C-corp, or S-corp, whichever is appropriate for your business, industry, and location.
Additionally, have the correct paperwork, including contracts, disclosure statements, and financial protections. This ensures that you are legally up-to-date with every step you take to sign on clients. It also helps your clients take you more seriously and follow through with financial transactions.
7 – Important Financial Considerations
While legally, your business will be separate from you as a person, you must also ensure that your business transactions are financially separate.
Create a business bank account and open business credit cards. You do this by showing the bank your Employee Identification Number (EIN) that comes in your legal paperwork. From there, you can open a corresponding credit card.
Put all of your business expenses onto the same card. Doing so makes it easier to keep track of your spending. Likewise, all earnings should go into your business bank account.
It’s essential to keep accurate financial records for your business from the start. It can have important tax implications, and inaccuracies can affect your business budget. Online programs like Quickbooks can help, or simply keeping track of everything in Microsoft Excel works.
Angela Dorsey, CFP, founder of Dorsey Wealth Management, states:
“I recommend that any woman serious about starting a business use Quickbooks online from the beginning. Not only does it help you track your expenses and revenues, but it also forces you to pay attention to what matters when it comes to managing the money for your business. This way, you can see when your expenses are getting out of control and also when it is time to ramp up marketing to get more clients.”
In addition, be sure to have a way to keep all your documents safe and easily accessible. Jorey Bernstein of Bernstein Investment Consultants recommends using Google Drive or Dropbox. “These kinds of services make it simple to manage and share important records with colleagues or customers.”
As mentioned above, accurate recordkeeping can affect your budget. Initially, you may not fully understand the cost of doing business. As you work, however, you’ll learn. Having a proper budget for running your business can change how you market yourself, the kinds of jobs you take, the effort you make to network, and even the amount you charge.
How To Choose The Job & Some Examples
When thinking about how to work for yourself, there are several options. Some have more flexibility than others. Your approach to thinking about how you can work for yourself can be like this:
- Define your skill set. What you are good at, your strengths, and how you can add value
- Your level of education and the industry you know
- How much do you need to get paid to maintain your work and life
- How much time do you have per week to dedicate to working for yourself (not everyone can do full time!)
- Consider the equipment you may need to work for yourself, the costs, and the storage
Think about these and answer them as truthfully as you can for yourself. Then think about which jobs would suit your self-employment needs. Some examples to consider:
- Virtual Assistant – you can work in almost any industry with the right skill set.
- Freelancer – you can be a writer, editor, or accountant, to name a few.
- Start a brick & mortar business – open a physical location to fulfill your business dreams!
- Caterer – You can use your home kitchen to create a lucrative business with the proper licensing.
- Real estate agent – you can work for yourself in real estate and help people find their dream home!
- Online Store – have goods or crafts to sell? Open an online marketplace through Amazon or Etsy and tell everyone about it!
Final Thoughts On How To Work For Yourself
There are many different things you can do when thinking about how to work for yourself. Regardless of how you decide to go into business for yourself, remember that it takes time and patience to grow and establish yourself.
Do not compare yourself to someone else. A lot goes on behind the scenes, as you’ll learn throughout this process. The road to success is never easy, but if you keep on and don’t give up, you can create a truly unique life for yourself. You’ll be able to give yourself time, flexibility, financial freedom, and creative freedom to run your business as you like.
Best of luck!