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Regardless of your field, starting a career as a freelancer is never easy. You’re essentially selling yourself rather than a company, making you the brand; this can be both mentally and physically challenging. If you’re thinking about starting a career as a freelancer, knowing these important aspects about business is paramount. 

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You need to build your corporate identity

One of the main issues with freelancing is that it can be difficult to build a reputation; far more difficult than if you have a traditional brand to hide behind. From the very beginning it’s crucial that you find ways to enhance your corporate identity and present yourself in the most professional manner possible. Unless you’re an established expert in your field, you won’t be a very attractive prospect.

Start with the basics – your address and telephone number. Conducting business from a home office and mobile phone is perfectly fine, but it doesn’t exactly look professional on a business card. Virtual offices can help you bypass this issue by providing a professional working address and telephone forwarding service, which will allow you to establish your business name in a more prestigious location. According to The Workstation this will only cost you a few pounds per month.

You’ll have to do your own accounting

Accountancy is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of freelancing. Learning how to file tax returns is not only tricky, but could be far more costly in the long-run. HM Revenue and Customs does not take kindly to mistakes, and errors could lead to substantial penalties. Before you start freelancing, make sure you get yourself a decent accountant that will hold themselves liable for filing fees.

Contrary t popular belief, hiring an accountant can actually save you money. Accountants are masters of deception and will do their utmost to ensure you pay as little tax as possible. They’ll know exactly what you can and can’t declare, and will be aware of any tax exemption schemes that are available to you. Find a good accountant and they’ll pay for their fee many times over in savings alone.

Finding clients can be tricky

Your success in this department will heavily depend on your confidence, industry and contacts. Without clients you cannot succeed, no matter how good you are. unless you’re a household name you will not get headhunted; you’ll have to do all the legwork yourself.

If you think you’ll manage to get all of your business from cold calling, think again. In a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review  cold calling only has a 9.1% success rate. To find clients you’ll probably have to attend long-winded networking events; spend months optimizing your website for search engines; and take potential leads out for dinner, etc. Fundamentally, at the beginning you’ll have to spend more time building contacts and trying to acquire new business than working.

It takes time to build a sustainable career as a freelancer. In fact, it could be months or even years before you start making a viable turnaround. However, if you do succeed the results will be highly rewarding. There’s nothing like being your own boss and creating your own opportunities. So, if you think you have the stomach to give it a go, get the ball rolling as soon as possible; just don’t expect your business to skyrocket overnight.

Jess Baker