53 million United States’ citizens are officially freelance according to a report under a month old. That may or may not surprise you. What’s also clear from the same article is that freelancers work longer hours than those in employment.
If you’ve chosen to give up full time paid employment to go self-employed, to make a success of it, you need to work hard, think creatively and invest wisely.
Firstly, why the rise of freelance?
The internet, as it is now, not the terrible 2G, 3G and dial up dinosaurs of the recent past, has changed everything. You could become a total social hermit, for example and live your life digitally, ordering food online from your online bank account, scouting for freelance “gigs” and even socialising with others via video calling.
With 5G on the horizon, faster broadband networks and hardware and software that is cheaper to buy and easy to run, freelance is going one way – “The Only Way is Up” (sorry, if you now hum that all day).
Advantages of freelance
Freelancers may be working longer hours, but they work the hours they choose. If they want to take a morning off, a day off, go to the cinema on a weekday afternoon, they can. They have that flexibility and earning powers are unlimited, providing they’re good at what they do and can find demand for their products and services.
Freelancers, we talk to at PDQ Funding, also say it’s not just about earning power. That’s important. Lifestyle though is their main reason.
What about freelance in the UK?
UK Freelance Statistics
In the UK, the Professional Contractors Group estimates that:
- There are 1.4 million British freelancers working across all sectors
- This has grown 14% in the past decade
- The flexibility offered by Britain’s freelancers is worth £21 billion to the UK economy in added value
- 78% of the UK public think that freelancing and flexible working help promote a good work/life balance
- 72% think freelancing has a positive effect on family life
What’s clear from both sides of the Atlantic too is the perception that freelance has a growing future. The numbers of self employed will continue to grow and demand for what they do will expand too.
Making a success of your enterprise
We’ve covered this in detail before – you can read a post here about social media marketing with a case study of the global giant Brewdog which started off small and grew large.
Now we can’t all be Brewdog, but we can follow certain steps to ensure success as a self-employed freelancer:
- Get the timing right
- Create a business plan
- Think of a pricing strategy
- Define yourself and your brand
- Devise a marketing strategy
- Find mentors
- Find clients
- Set expectations
- Ask for testimonials and reviews
Get the timing right
Timing is everything. If you want to ride the crest of a wave, you’ve got to be metaphorically on the beach early to catch it. If your financial commitments are stretched in paid employments, the time may not be right to abandon a salary.
Successful businesses we’ve worked with and financially supported at PDQ Funding, know all about timing. They’ve managed the difficult first six months in many cases and want to go “next level” with business growth. Many of our clients tell us that they started planning the business whilst in paid employment. They used weekends and evenings, where possible, to kickstart the enterprise.
A great analogy we heard was the tunnel one. If you’re in a dark tunnel of paid employment, you need to dig a way out. The first thing is to pick up a spade and acknowledge that you need out. You may stay under wraps for a few months or a year, then you will break free.
Create a business plan
A business plan should be comprehensive, not fag packet planning, and you’ll find that many Business Enterprise providers in your town or city will review yours objectively and critically. A business plan is vital at the outset, and throughout the lifespan, so that goals can be set and milestones recorded. You can find business planning templates online like this one, which is easy to download and edit.
Think of a pricing strategy
Are you charging an hourly rate, a daily rate or per project? Firstly, are you going to price yourself below competitors at the start to garner clients and reviews? Or will your prices be higher, as you offer a better product and service. They key here is to research the market and set a rate that will get you business and thus allow long term growth.
Define yourself and your brand
The old saying “there’s riches in niches” rings true of any start up. You need to specialise. If you’re starting a vaping shop in a street where there’s already 3 others, what do you do differently? What are you great at and what fires you up with passion? You may decide to test run your brand with a pop up outlet locally. Your brand is how you make others feel about what you do. It’s more than a logo. It’s a philosophy, like Tattu have engendered in their Manchester restaurant. You may need a simple brochure website at the outset to define you and your brand.
As sales grow, you may need a merchant cash advance loans from PDQ Funding.
Devise a marketing strategy
As part of your business and digital planning, firstly marketing needs to be prioritised and funded. You may decide an average 4% return on printed marketing materials is worthwhile. You need to find out who your target audience is and where they hang out online. Marketing needs to be not overtly sales-oriented but focused on communication and building followers.
You need a tribe:
- “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”
- “A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
- “Tribes need leadership. Sometimes one person leads, sometimes more. People want connection and growth and something new. They want change.”
Throughout your businesses life from start up to established brand, networking is important. Again done well, networking, word of mouth increases your businesses likelihood of increased sales. You will attract more customers as a result of physical and digital networking. It can also be very enjoyable and you can find mentors there too who have gone through the process you’re in.
Many networking groups allow a free trial too, so you can see whether you enjoy it and whether it’s worth a weekly or monthly investment of your time and money.
Beginning a freelance role can be daunting. You can soften this by finding mentors, gurus, advisers who will freely help and advise you. If you’re intent on becoming a copywriter, connect with other copywriters online. If you want to set up a craft gin bar, look for expert writers and thought leaders on the subject of gin, which is very on trend. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice – remember successful entrepreneurs have travelled the road you’re now on.
Whether you’re setting up a freelance service or a physical business selling products and services, firstly you need clients. Your café may set off with a bang as curious locals, friends and family lend their support by popping in regular at the beginning. But how do you sustain that organically? Do you improve marketing? Do you therefore invest in a website? Pay someone to professionally manage social media? Begin online orders? Finally, do you begin to offer a takeaway or work delivery service? All these will find you more clients but will cost you financially in order to grow.
PDQ Funding are here to help business growth through expansion or giving you extra cashflow.
Dickens isn’t the only one with Great Expectations – many of your clients may well demand quick delivery and your friends, family, investors, partners may have high hopes at the start. Ambitions are great to have. But realistic ambitions or expectations are even better. That business plan should set out long term objectives, that are ambitious but achievable with a growth strategy.
If someone is driving your freelance quote to its limits, tell them. Scope stretch is another bane of freelancer’s life. It’s like asking a builder, for instance, who you’ve paid to add a porch to add a conservatory at the rear for free. Therefore, learn to say no as a start up, even though it may feel counter-intuitive when you’re trying to build a client base.
By all means set a project deadline and aim to stick with it, but don’t allow client expectations to run away with a set budget.
Meetings with clients may be necessary but remember they take away time when you could be working on other projects.
Above all, set expectations for all you do.
Ask for testimonials and reviews
We’ve covered this extensively before. Google reviews are the Holy Grail of testimonials. If you can encourage customers to leave reviews on search engines, Trip Advisor, Booking, Yell and your social media outlets, you’re increasing the chances of business success. Before any rational consumer buys nowadays, they do searches online, talk to people and read what others say about your company.
You won’t necessarily accrue reviews by simply waiting for them to come in, for instance. Your job, therefore, is to pursue them or pay someone to do this for you. Encourage clients to write about what you did for them on your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook page and on Google.
Use these positive words on your website, for instance, on printed marketing materials to demonstrate that you are excellent, dependable and trustworthy. You need social proof and you must enable a review strategy for long term development.
Amazon badger customers, for example, for product reviews and feedback – so why not you?
Other ways to grow a business
There’s clearly other ways we’ve not touched upon to grow a business from infancy to success.
- Write about what you do online and tell stories (content marketing)
- Build rapport with clients
- Work with the right clients – but remember you don’t have to work with anyone and everyone who approaches you
- Don’t see successful competition as a foe however – you can learn from them
- Above all, never underestimate the effort required to build and sustain a business
Finally, how PDQ Funding can help you
We are leading providers of business cash advances. What that means, above all, is that if you have card transactions enabled, have been trading for at least six months, we can give you cash advances to grow that enterprise, whether you’re a freelance barrister or a wannabe barista of your own coffee shop.
- No security or business plans are required
- Approval within 24hours with a 90% approval rate
- Apply for a merchant cash advance loan in minutes
- Flexible repayments based on your card sales
Want to know more? Call us now on 01246 233108