The numbers of those who are working from home have been growing steadily in the past few years. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau finds that almost half (49 percent) of the nation’s businesses are operated from home.
The recent economic downturn has created another impetus for the growth of home-based businesses. While the labor market is slowly improving, many are still without jobs or are continuing to lose their jobs.
With the continued high number of unemployed Americans, many are turning to entrepreneurship instead and working from their homes. Having got out (or forced out) of the 9 to 5 grind, they look for ways to continue earning money. Embarking on a new journey as a solo entrepreneur or freelancer remain one of the popular options.
What You Need to Succeed
Whether you’ve just been let go from your job or you made the decision to leave your full-time job to become a business owner, what do you need to become a successful freelancer or solo entrepreneur?
Starting a freelance business will not be easy, and the road ahead will be full of challenges. But if you are up to the challenge, the rewards can be worth all the effort and hardships.
Here are 10 things that you need to consider to successfully start a freelance business:
1. Commit to becoming an entrepreneur.
Start by thinking and deciding what you really want to do. If entrepreneurship is just a stop gap measure until you find a job, it will be hard to make the new venture work. You just won’t dedicate the time and energy needed to plan out how to make your freelance business work, if most of your focus is on trying to find a new job as soon as possible.
You need to make a choice whether you want the comfort of a regular paycheck or the roller-coaster ride of entrepreneurship. Think of where you want to be in a year. You will be making a life-changing decision and you need 100% commitment to making the change.
You have to think of your new business as your new job, where you will put in and invest all your time, energy, experience and thought. Then and only then can you really expect to see any returns and see your freelance business flourish and grow.
2. Prepare for ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
As an employee, you start your job and expect to get paid after a set number of days. Whether you are paid weekly, bi-monthly or monthly, you are assured that you will receive the income from the work you’ve done for the company.
Alas, that is not true with being a solo entrepreneur or freelancer. You can be contacting prospective consulting clients for months, without any single bait. That leaves you with no income for that time period.
When you are freelancing, you need to be prepared for the roller coaster ride of self-employment: some months you may have several clients, and some months you may find it hard winning any accounts. That is simply the nature of freelancing. You need to prepare for the lean times and make sure that you have income buffer to ride out those difficult times.
3. Carefully plan what you really want to do.
Forget about being an employee, you’re now the boss! Start putting on your entrepreneur thinking hat, and start planning your freelance business.
If you resigned your job to become a full-time businessperson, chances are that you are already clear and decided what you really want to do. You know what business to start and probably may have thought long and hard on how to accomplish your goal.
But this may not be the case if you’ve just been handed the pink slip. All of a sudden, you’re forced to come up with the hard question: What should you do next?
Now’s the time to sit down and think long and hard what you want to do, and what you can do (those can be two different things!). Your courses of action can include:
- Start a business based on your job
- Start a business based on your interests, hobbies or passions;
- Start a business where you think there are good opportunities
This could be your opportunity to start afresh and to do those things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time to do it.
4. Learn as much as you can about the business
Learn as much as you can about the business. As a solo entrepreneur, you are the business and the only decision maker, the only staff, and the only board of director. You have no luxury of picking the brains of your bosses and your co-workers, as you have none. How the business will go along — and whether it will succeed — will depend solely on your knowledge, instincts, and ideas.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How does the business actually work?
- What is the demand for this business?
- Who are the customers of this business?
- Where can you find these customers?
- What are needed to start and successfully run this business?
- What are the cost elements of this business?
- How much do you need to start this business?
Read Part 2: How to Start Freelancing and Succeed as a Freelancer
Check out the slideshow How to Build a Successful Freelance Business