How to Turn Your Dream of Launching a Freelance Business Into a Reality

How to Turn Your Dream of Launching a Freelance Business Into a Reality

The number of self-employed Americans is on the rise. Some reports estimate that over 50 million Americans are freelancing full or part time. This is close to one in three working adults.

The benefits of self-employment are well known. Being your own boss and the potential for a higher income are usually at the top of the list. Additionally, many corporations increasingly prefer to hire self-employed professionals as contract workers instead of expanding their full-time employee count.

Picking an industry and finding clients

Freelancers are in high demand, which means there is plenty of work available. Gig marketplaces offer a broad range of jobs. Some examples are virtual assistants, writers, designers and marketing specialists. However, the majority of available jobs may not suit your expertise or financial goals.

Start by identifying what you’re good at (and enjoy doing) and how that translates to freelancing.

Here are some examples:

  • If you’re good at software development, you can build Shopify apps and stores or WordPress sites and plug-ins.
  • If you’re skilled at writing essays and stories, you can create or proofread copy.
  • If you’re good with a camera, you can do portrait or commercial photography.
  • If you’re knowledgeable about statistics, you can offer data mining and analysis.
  • If you’re adept at video production, you can offer video-editing services.
  • If you have a very pleasant voice, you can record audiobooks, elearning courses or video game voices.
  • If you’re skilled in accounting, you can help others understand tax codes and deductions.

Once you’ve picked an industry, the next step is to find a client. According to successful freelancers, the best approach is old-fashioned relationship building. Reach out to friends and former colleagues to land your first client and then word-of-mouth referrals lead to more clients.

Alternatively, a quicker but less-empowered approach is to source gigs on marketplaces. Most marketplaces manage the client payment process, so, as a freelancer, you won’t have to invoice clients directly.

Ultimately, the long-term livelihood of your freelance business depends on your ability to find clients yourself and then build a steady supply of work.

Building a freelance business and growing revenue

As a freelancer, building your business and growing its revenue falls squarely on your shoulders. That’s the challenge facing anyone who’s willing to work independently.

Some of the best practices for building a freelance business are to:

  • Set clear financial goals for your business
  • Find a niche where you can demonstrate value (and earn a profit)
  • Enable existing clients to help you find new clients
  • Build your reputation and your personal brand
  • Strengthen your craft

Risks of freelancing and how to navigate them

Given a low barrier to entry and nearly no startup cost, anyone can start a freelancing side hustle. It is competitive, however. There can be a temptation to lower your rates to win a new client and grow overall revenue, but it’s important to stay disciplined about the value of your time and the profitability of each client.

Additionally, a common pitfall is taking on a large project that requires subcontracting parts of the whole. This is a worthy growth strategy, but it introduces third-party risks.

Building a freelance business is both challenging and rewarding. With a long-term mindset, you can establish career independence, plus the majority of self-employed professionals report higher levels of job satisfaction and higher income than their peers with traditional jobs.

You’re Next

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Labor Department Proposes New Rule to Expand Health Care Through Small Business Plans

Labor Dept. Proposes New Health Plan Options for Small Businesses

The cost of healthcare is one of the biggest challenges small business owners and their employees face. A new proposed rule by the Department of Labor is looking to alleviate this pain point by expanding access to healthcare through small business health plans.

New Health Plan Options for Small Businesses

The rule will give small businesses and sole proprietors the ability to group together and provide quality health insurance their employees can afford. One of the goals of the proposed rule is to give small businesses an alternative to the current system, which is too expensive and full of barriers and restrictions.

There are around 11 million Americans working for small businesses, which doesn’t include the families they support. For the businesses owners, finding affordable insurance has been difficult and it is only getting worse as the cost of healthcare continues to rise. The plan by the Department of Labor is offering an alternative to Small Business Health Plans, also called Association Health Plans.

The Department of Labor explains in a press release, “These improvements stand to open health insurance coverage for millions of Americans and their families by making it more affordable for thousands of small businesses and sole proprietors. By joining together, employers may reduce administrative costs through economies of scale, strengthen their bargaining position to obtain more favorable deals, enhance their ability to self-insure, and offer a wider array of insurance options.”

The Proposed Rule

The proposed rule has two mandates.

The first is to let employers form a Small Business Health Plan based on where they are located and their industry. This makes it possible for a plan to address the needs in a particular location, whether it is a city, county, state or multi-state metro area. If, on the other hand, an industry wants to be part of the plan, it can be a nationwide initiative covering industries across many different segments.

The second mandate is to allow sole proprietors to join Small Business Health Plans. With close to 23 million sole proprietorships in the United States (not counting single-owner farm businesses), these entrepreneurs and their families account for millions of potentially uninsured individuals. But the new rule would clear the path for this group to be able to access health insurance.

Protective Measures

The rule also includes measures to protect the individuals purchasing the insurance through Small Business Health Plans. They will not be charged higher premiums or be rejected from a plan based on health factors. Consumers will be protected by the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration with close monitoring of the plans.

The proposal by the Department of Labor is part of an Executive Order President Trump signed in October of 2017. The order directs the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury to re-establish the health care associations, or association health plans.

Image: WhiteHouse.gov

This article, “Labor Department Proposes New Rule to Expand Health Care Through Small Business Plans” was first published on Small Business Trends

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3 Steps to Take, to Avoid Sinking Your Startup

Business models have to be adaptable to survive. If the societal trend that launched your product flounders, then think about another direction.

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New Year, New Outlook: 5 Ways Employees Can Thrive in a Robotic World

For many of us, the new year is a time to make resolutions. From fitness goals to work objectives, it’s a fresh start for all of us to strive to do better – to be better. In 2018, technology will continue to change, bringing new opportunities for different resolutions.

It’s no secret that companies are searching for ways to cost-effectively optimize operations. However, businesses have reached a turning point, and in the coming year, back-office innovation will become a competitive advantage. According to McKinsey, increasing support function efficiency has the potential to increase earnings by 3 percent, which can lead to a 25 percent or higher increase in valuation. To realize this efficiency, companies must change both tools and processes, which will make robotic process automation more important than ever.  

As robotic process automation solutions continue to take over some of the more manual elements of human jobs, for many workers, those New Year’s work objectives will center around job security. While the initial reaction may be to hold on tightly to even the most mundane of tasks to prove the importance of the role, thriving in a robotic world doesn’t mean clinging to antiquated processes.

Here are five ways that employees can embrace change and excel in a robotic world.

1. Get excited.

Many employees are bogged down with data entry and other manual work every day. While this work keeps people busy, it isn’t necessarily productive. With robotics, employees can finally be free of monotony that keeps them from true productivity. According to Gartner, by 2020, artificial intelligence and robotics will actually create half a million jobs, giving employees half a million reasons to be excited. By taking a step back, embracing the change and viewing robotics as an opportunity rather than their replacement that will send them packing, employees can finally realize the full potential of their roles.

2. Become a strategist.

Successfully implementing robotic process automation tools requires companies to evaluate and rework processes from the ground up. No one knows those processes better than the employees who are immersed in them every day, making employees assets in determining ongoing strategy. By offering expertise and working with the CIO, IT and management, employees can shape not only departmental direction, but their own career paths.

3. Get smart.

As the technology world changes, so will the roles that humans play in a company’s success. In fact, as robotics take away the more repetitive tasks, employees will become even more important to the organization. However, this is contingent on an employee’s willingness to learn new skills. For example, accountants who are no longer spending 40 percent of their week on administrative activities must now focus on the analysis part of financials. This may require a refresher course or even additional education in financial analysis, but those who are willing to learn will be more valuable than ever.  

4. Widen the view.

Successful employee integration with robotics isn’t a one-time event; it’s an ongoing, dynamic process. For employees to stay abreast of changes and needs, it’s important to look beyond the immediate and take a forward-thinking approach. By finding future opportunities and leveling up their skills accordingly, employees can solidify their place in the organization for years to come.

5. Become a champion.

Change isn’t always easy, but with the help of strategic change agents, the process and results can be both faster and better. Companies that have the best change management policies meet or exceed expected returns, sometimes by as much as 200 to 300 percent, and the responsibility for successful change is evenly spread across all levels of the organization. The employees who embrace the change and advocate for new ideas can streamline the robotics implementation process and serve as a liaison between colleagues and superiors. These change agents will play a critical role in both the success of the project and the company, and they’ll have the opportunity to change and grow with the organization.

Robotics process automation is coming. If employees adjust their New Year’s resolutions to embrace the change, 2018 could be ripe with opportunity.

 

New Year, New Outlook: 5 Ways Employees Can Thrive in a Robotic World

For many of us, the new year is a time to make resolutions. From fitness goals to work objectives, it’s a fresh start for all of us to strive to do better – to be better. In 2018, technology will continue to change, bringing new opportunities for different resolutions.

It’s no secret that companies are searching for ways to cost-effectively optimize operations. However, businesses have reached a turning point, and in the coming year, back-office innovation will become a competitive advantage. According to McKinsey, increasing support function efficiency has the potential to increase earnings by 3 percent, which can lead to a 25 percent or higher increase in valuation. To realize this efficiency, companies must change both tools and processes, which will make robotic process automation more important than ever.  

As robotic process automation solutions continue to take over some of the more manual elements of human jobs, for many workers, those New Year’s work objectives will center around job security. While the initial reaction may be to hold on tightly to even the most mundane of tasks to prove the importance of the role, thriving in a robotic world doesn’t mean clinging to antiquated processes.

Here are five ways that employees can embrace change and excel in a robotic world.

1. Get excited.

Many employees are bogged down with data entry and other manual work every day. While this work keeps people busy, it isn’t necessarily productive. With robotics, employees can finally be free of monotony that keeps them from true productivity. According to Gartner, by 2020, artificial intelligence and robotics will actually create half a million jobs, giving employees half a million reasons to be excited. By taking a step back, embracing the change and viewing robotics as an opportunity rather than their replacement that will send them packing, employees can finally realize the full potential of their roles.

2. Become a strategist.

Successfully implementing robotic process automation tools requires companies to evaluate and rework processes from the ground up. No one knows those processes better than the employees who are immersed in them every day, making employees assets in determining ongoing strategy. By offering expertise and working with the CIO, IT and management, employees can shape not only departmental direction, but their own career paths.

3. Get smart.

As the technology world changes, so will the roles that humans play in a company’s success. In fact, as robotics take away the more repetitive tasks, employees will become even more important to the organization. However, this is contingent on an employee’s willingness to learn new skills. For example, accountants who are no longer spending 40 percent of their week on administrative activities must now focus on the analysis part of financials. This may require a refresher course or even additional education in financial analysis, but those who are willing to learn will be more valuable than ever.  

4. Widen the view.

Successful employee integration with robotics isn’t a one-time event; it’s an ongoing, dynamic process. For employees to stay abreast of changes and needs, it’s important to look beyond the immediate and take a forward-thinking approach. By finding future opportunities and leveling up their skills accordingly, employees can solidify their place in the organization for years to come.

5. Become a champion.

Change isn’t always easy, but with the help of strategic change agents, the process and results can be both faster and better. Companies that have the best change management policies meet or exceed expected returns, sometimes by as much as 200 to 300 percent, and the responsibility for successful change is evenly spread across all levels of the organization. The employees who embrace the change and advocate for new ideas can streamline the robotics implementation process and serve as a liaison between colleagues and superiors. These change agents will play a critical role in both the success of the project and the company, and they’ll have the opportunity to change and grow with the organization.

Robotics process automation is coming. If employees adjust their New Year’s resolutions to embrace the change, 2018 could be ripe with opportunity.

 

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Did You Give Up?? 😐😐

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New Minimum Wage Hikes, Slowing Job Growth Rates Make Small Biz Headlines

Businesses have already started to see some major changes in the new year, including minimum wage hikes that have taken effect in 18 states. But a new report suggests that wages were already rising in small businesses around the country, although job growth took a bit of a hit in December.

These are just a few of the headlines making waves in the small business community early in 2018. Check out even more news in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Employment

New Minimum Wage Laws Take Effect for Small Businesses in 18 States

The new year 2018 is upon us and if you have hourly wage employees at your small business, there’s nearly a 50-50 chance you’ll be paying them more right away. A total of 18 states have raised the minimum wage for hourly employees, effective Jan. 1, 2018, according to information from the Labor Law Center.

Small Business Job Growth Down – But Wages Up – in December

Job growth at American small businesses continues to slow as wages trend the opposite way. That’s the finding from the latest Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch for December. The Paychex index uses a standard of 100. Anything below that figure shows a decline in job growth. In December, the Paychex index stood at 99.70.

OSHA Warns Small Businesses About Dangers of Employees Removing Snow

Businesses that rely on employees to clear snow in front of their storefront or office need to use care to prevent serious injury and illness, according to OSHA. OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor just released a warning to businesses that rely on employees to perform snow removal or other outdoor activities in severe winter conditions.

Finance

Moneta International Connects Businesses and Lenders as Regulations Change

Since the global financial crisis hit in 2008, many banks have been forced to ‘tighten their belts’ by lending less and steering clear of less profitable clients. Businesses are bearing the brunt of this climate of increasing regulation and scrupulous lending.

Marketing Tips

Pitchsome Encourages Small Businesses to Show – Not Tell – in Video Marketplace

Product descriptions play a big role in the initial purchasing decision of consumers. Pitchsome takes this step to a new level by using video to enhance the customer experience so they can see the product in action. Pitchsome says it is the world’s first video content platform for selling and buying products.

Video  Use in Influencer Marketing will Reach an All Time High in 2018, Report Says

A new report from Influicity (PDF) predicts the use of video in Influencer Marketing will reach an all time high in 2018, peaking at 80  percent of global online traffic by 2020. Marketers who work with influencers have their work cut out for them. The new “always on” campaigns will be longer.

Retail Trends

Restaurant Owners Expect Higher Sales in First Half of 2018

Restaurant operators are more confident about the business condition in the coming months. This is according to the latest National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) November report, released at the end of December. The monthly index for November trended higher at 101.1 compared to October, which was at 100.9.

The BlueCart Report Keeps Restaurants and Hotels on Top of Consumer Trends

BlueCart recently introduced a report spotting purchasing trends in the hospitality industry. The 2017 Hospitality Report is designed to help restaurants, hotels and suppliers gain a competitive advantage by revealing the food and drink that’s most in demand. It’s the first time BlueCart has issued such a report, but small businesses in this market will certainly want to take note.

Small Online Stores Will Spend $2.62 for Every $1 of a Fraudulent Transaction

One fraudulent online order can cost a small retailer nearly three times as much as the cost of the transaction. That’s what Stripe found in its December 2017 Online Fraud Trends and Behavior report (PDF). The online payment processor recently released the report and gave Small Business Trends a unique perspective via exclusive email comments.

Mastercard Says Retail Sales Grew 4.9% During Record Holiday Season

The largest year-over-year holiday sales increase since 2011 was just recorded by the Mastercard SpendingPulse report. The 4.9 percent increase comes at a time when terms such as “Retail Apocalypse” are in the headlines forecasting the demise of retailers. According to Mastercard, customer confidence is one of the biggest drivers.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Dat Dog Puts a New Spin on the Old Hot Dog Stand

Hot dog stands are nothing new. But the team behind Dat Dog, Enterprises set out to put a new spin on the popular concept, with unique recipes and a vibrant atmosphere. The company has since grown from one small stand to multiple locations throughout New Orleans. But it still maintains that unique vibe.

Small Business Operations

VendorGo Mobile App Creates Better Communication for Small Contractors

The VendorGo app from Constellation HomeBuilder Systems has been developed to improve communications between vendors, suppliers and contractors. According to the company, the app will provide accurate real-time communications for vendors and contractors whether they are onsite or in the office.

Procore  and Plans4Less.com Partner to Keep Construction Companies Literally On the Same Page

Procore Technologies, Inc., a provider of cloud-based applications for construction, recently partnered with fixed-rate reprographics services provider Plans4Less.com to inject more efficiency into the construction industry by putting construction industry pros –quite literally — on the same page.

Technology Trends

GlassWire Promises Free Network Monitoring and Protection with Free Firewall

In today’s fast-paced environment, every small and growing business owner requires fast and reliable Internet connection to run an operation effectively and to remain competitive. While you might have a good internet, unauthorized WiFi connections might be slowing your connection and that’s where GlassWire comes in.

Sift App Helps Business Users Find Hidden Benefits of Their Credit Cards

Do you know there’s an app that unlocks hidden benefits of your credit cards? Well, the Sift app — an innovative free mobile application — unlocks hidden benefits of your credit cards you probably were not aware of, such as price adjustment refunds, extended warranties, return protection, rewards and much more.

Cargo VPN Offers Your Business Protection While You Work Remotely

Cargo VPN for Mac provides personal IP address and server with an added layer of protection for your digital presence. Eltima Software’s newest VPN or virtual private network keeps unwanted eyes from peeking at your activity, location, communications and traffic. The personal static IP address and server from Cargo VPN gives you another level of control when you are online.

Libby  App Connects eReaders to Business Titles from Most Major Metro Public Libraries

When was the last time you thought about going to your local library to check out a book? The Libby app connects local libraries and the thousands of eBooks and audiobooks on their digital bookshelves 24/7. The Libby app is developed by OverDrive. To date, more than 39,000 libraries and schools in 70 countries are part of the service.

What Apple’s Battery Mea Culpa Can Teach Your Small Business About Transparency

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) officially admitted it was slowing down iPhones as their batteries age. The reasoning for this move by the company makes perfect sense, but it was the execution which will cost Apple in terms of money and a black eye on its reputation and brand.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “New Minimum Wage Hikes, Slowing Job Growth Rates Make Small Biz Headlines” was first published on Small Business Trends