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How to Work for Yourself
By www.chinahourly.comIf you've been laid off into the dismal job market, working for yourself may be the best path out of the unemployment line. But the idea of self-employment can also be daunting if you're used to a corporate job. Where will you find health care? Can you deduct home office expenses on your taxes? How much should you charge for your work? We break it down here with 20 steps to get you from unemployed to self-employed, with links to in-depth articles on each step.
Step 1: Vet Your Idea
By www.chinahourly.comYou may be able to do the same thing you did in your old job on a freelance basis—Web designers or accountants, for example, can shift from working for a single employer to serving many clients. But some professionals will need to find new ways to market their job skills in the open market. Make sure you offer something clients need.
Step 2: Get Motivated
By www.chinahourly.comFor those who have recently suffered the trauma of losing a job, the biggest challenge of self-employment can be getting motivated to work without the structure of a regular workplace. Build routines into your day to keep yourself on track, meet others for coffee to stave off isolation, and start thinking of yourself as a business owner, not an employee.
Step 3: Prepare a Business Plan
By www.chinahourly.comEven if you dont need a formal business plan with benchmarks for growth, you do need to know how much cash you have to bring in to cover expenses. Write this down and be realistic about what you need to earn to make self-employment sustainable.
Step 4: Create a Workspace
By www.chinahourly.com Whether its a corner of your studio apartment, a basement office, or a local coffee shop, find a place where you can work effectively. Consider attending co-working events to meet other independent workers.
Step 5: Choose a Legal Structure
By www.chinahourly.comMany freelancers work as sole proprietors, a default that saves you from having to form a separate entity. But those who need to limit their personal liability may want to form limited liability companies or S-corporations.
Step 6: Pick a Name
By www.chinahourly.comNot every freelance business needs a name distinct from its owner. But choosing a name can help you define your business and let others know that you're serious about it.
Step 7: Get Health Insurance
By www.chinahourly.comThe insurance system isn't friendly to independent workers, but there are options to get covered. If you cant get insurance through a spouses plan, consider freelancers insurance, COBRA, or seeing if local business groups offer plans for sole proprietors. Even if you buy a high-deductible "catastrophic" health plan, you can avoid having a gap in coverage that could haunt you if insurers later deny coverage for a pre-existing condition.
Step 8: Set Prices
By www.chinahourly.comDetermine what value your services will bring to clients, and set your rates accordingly.
Step 9: Get Online
By www.chinahourly.comMost freelancers will want some kind of Web presence, even if its just a professional profile on LinkedIn. Make sure people looking for you can reach you.
Step 10: Get Business Cards
By www.chinahourly.comYes, you need them, and not the leftover ones from your old job. Invest in professionally printed business cards that show you're serious about your business, or get a creative design if it suits your business.
Step 11: Build Your Network
By www.chinahourly.comWithout the resources of a company behind you, your freelance success will hinge on the strength of your network. The connections that will help you thrive as a freelancer may be different than those you needed corporate life. Meeting with contacts informally will also keep you sane and break the monotony of working alone.
Step 12: Choose a Credit Card and Bank
By www.chinahourly.comSeparate your business finances from your personal finances with dedicated credit-card and bank accounts that you use for work alone. This will help you keep track of business expenses you want to write off.
Step 13: Secure Financing
By www.chinahourly.comMany freelancers will be able to bootstrap without outside funding. But if you need to invest in equipment or other necessary expenses, you can look for loans or credit lines from banks, microlenders, peer-to-peer loan sites, or loans from friends and family.
Step 14: Sell Your Service
By www.chinahourly.comWhether or not you were in sales before, you are now. Expect to spend as much time selling your services as you do actually practicing them, especially early on.
Step 15: Get Paid
By www.chinahourly.comMake invoices, bill your clients promptly, and be diligent about collecting payments. Be prepared to follow up on invoices to get paid, and factor the time you spend tracking down payments into your pricing.
Step 16: Track Your Finances
By www.chinahourly.comConsult an accountant and set up an system to track your revenue and expenses. You can find free or cheap software online.
Step 17: Pay Taxes
By www.chinahourly.comPrepare to make estimated tax payments to the IRS four times a year, and set the money aside in a separate account. Remember that you have to pay the employer's contribution to Social Security as well. Talk to an accountant about what , like the deduction for a home office.
Step 18: Build Your Brand
By www.chinahourly.comUnderstand what distinguishes your work, and create a brand that communicates that to others. As a freelancer, everything you do reflects on your personal brand.
Step 19: Use Outsourcing Sites
By www.chinahourly.comList your services on freelance marketplaces like Elance, Guru.com, and GetAFreelancer.com so clients looking for an extra set of hands can find you.
Step 20: Look Ahead
By www.chinahourly.com Whether you want to parlay freelance work into a full-time job, expand your venture and hire employees, or just sustain your self-employed lifestyle, know where your business is going and make a plan to get it there.