Growing as a Business
Too many freelancers get stuck in ruts or fail to map out a clear plan for their future because they see what they’re doing as a job, instead of a business. The fact is you ARE a business owner and all good business owners need to have a plan.
- Reaching Your Threshold – Always be aware of what your threshold is. Eventually, when your work speed levels out, your rates stabilize and you have work every week, you’ll find out exactly how much money you can make in an average week. Is it enough? If not, keep planning ways to make more money and keep growing your business.
- Taking on New Project Types – If you’ve only ever written SEO articles, consider expanding what you do to include eBooks or blog posts. No matter what kind of freelance work you do, there are always options available for generating more work and making more money. This also keeps you from getting bored with the same old work. Diversify is the name of the game. The more things you can become an expert in, the more successful you’ll be.
- Developing Long-term Goals and Strategies – Always have a list of goals that you can work toward. A freelancer without goals is in a dead-end job, even if he is his own boss! I like to have both short-term goals (3–6 months) and long-term goals (1–5 years). Re-evaluate what your goals are every month or so and keep track of your progress to see if you’re getting close to reaching them. Another thing to be wary of is to make your goals realistic. If your goal is to make one million dollars a year in your first year, you might be pushing it a bit. If your goal is to be financially independent in the first three years, that’s probably more realistic. Knowing your threshold can also help you set goals as you try to expand and develop that threshold.
- Creating a Legal Business – Eventually, you may need to create a legal business entity to protect your personal assets, look more professional to potential clients, and present a brand that can be recognized easily. At first, a simple Sole Proprietorship will do, but eventually you’ll want to consider a limited liability company (LLC), which is a business structure that protects your assets like a corporation, but taxes you like a Sole Proprietorship – The best of both worlds.
- Hiring Other Freelancers – If you reach the point where you can no longer complete all of your work on time or you would like to make more time for other projects, you may consider outsourcing some of your work to other freelancers. While this may sound difficult, it’s really pretty simple. It only takes a few seconds and will free you up in a number of ways. It is also the fastest and easiest way to grow your business while guaranteeing ongoing income.
- Taxes and Record Keeping – Ah, the ever present tax man. Don’t be like 90% of the freelancers out there and forget to take care of your taxes before you reach April 15th. Yes, you still need to pay taxes, and yes, the IRS has ways of finding out if you’re not paying them. Most of your US clients will file 1099 forms to show the income you made from them, which lets the IRS know that you have income they can tax. Upwork will generally file these 1099s automatically for clients, making it very likely that they’ll get sent in. To manage your taxes, keep close track of every project you complete, and set aside at least 25% of your income throughout the year. Because you’re not employed, you will be taxed double what you normally pay for social security and Medicare. This is called Self Employment Tax and is about 15% (while an employer normally pays half of this, it’s now up to you to pay all of it). Pay your taxes quarterly, in April, June, September, and January, and keep track of all business expenses. If possible, you should hire an accountant to help with your taxes. But, even if you can’t, maintaining good records and keeping track of everything you make will go a long way toward avoiding any audits.
Being a business owner isn’t for everyone. Some people would rather just drive to work each day and collect a paycheck from their employer while spending eight hours a day or more at a job that they either hate or, at best, could take it or leave it.
But the freedom that comes along with owning your own business and knowing that you control either its failure or success is immensely gratifying. And, if you are lucky enough to be able to combine it with something that you truly love to do, there is nothing better.
Becoming a freelancer is just one possible path you can take on your road to building a successful online business. There are many others. If you have taken this entire course, which consists of a total of 10 articles, and feel that you found the business for you – that’s great! If not, don’t worry. This is just the tip of a very massive iceberg. One that’s made of up of an incredible amount of niches, just waiting for you to carve it into the successful business of your choice.
And that’s exactly why we created this site… to help you decide which online business to build and then provide you with all the tools, tips, and resources you’ll need to create a real sustainable, successful business out of it.
Here’s to Your Success!