A step-by-step guide to going freelance
I had someone ask me for advice last week about starting their own business. As a business owner of less than 2 weeks I felt a little green to be dishing out advice, but here's the step-by-step process of what I've done so far.
1. Set up my website. I already owned this domain and just had to move it from Wordpress to Squarespace. I started using Squarespace last year, and while initially I wasn't a fan, once I'd picked up how it all worked I fell in love. I spent a lot of time working on the content and asking friends/colleagues for advice. I see it as a bit of a work in progress and will keep changing it as my offerings evolve, and I'm going to be adding a clients page in the next few days to show off the great businesses I'm working with.
2. Applied for a business bank account. This wasn't initially on my to-do list, but my accountant husband said it would make things a lot easier in the long run, so I filled out a mammoth application and sent it off to the Co-Op Bank. I picked them purely because I already bank with them.
3. Registered as self employed with HMRC. For me, this is a pretty straightforward process as I've previously been self employed.
4. Got insurance. I talked about this morning in my previous post and found this one of the simplest things to arrange.
5. Wrote a business plan. For some reason I imagined this would be a total nightmare but once I found a reasonable template to use, it was a breeze. It was good to take the time to sit down and map out what I want my business to be, who I want to work for and what I want those relationships to look like. Ideally, I want to work with clients on a long term basis and show them that whatever their marketing spend is, they can get a good result from it. Some clients I've met with aren't even sure that social media marketing is for them, so that's a good challenge to get started!
6. Meetings, meetings and more meetings. I've pretty much been having back-to-back meetings these past two weeks which has been amazing, interesting and a little overwhelming at times. On Friday when I drove home my brain was totally jumping with ideas! I'm very conscious of travel time, so I try to line up as many meetings on one day, rather than spreading 5 meetings over 5 days. I also now have a dog to think about, so some days he's been going to doggy day care so that I can get a load of meetings done without having to worry about him. (The added bonus is that the doggy day care place takes photos and videos to share on their facebook page, so I can see that he's having loads of fun while he's there!)
7. Thinking. Seems a bit obvious, but for me I really needed to decide whether having my own business was really what I wanted to do. I weighed up the risks and benefits – I didn't need to spend a huge amount of money to get started, I already owned my laptop and had a good home office set up. I'm a pretty risk averse person generally and decided that even if I try for 6 months and no one hires me, I'd be ok with that! Thankfully that's not been the case but it was good to have a clear idea of my financials right at the outset.
8. Be open to new ideas. Last week I headed along to Scottish Women in Business, a networking group for businesswomen in and around Glasgow. I found the evening really interesting and inspiring so decided to join and become a member. It will be nice to have a group of supportive people to chat to about my business seeing as I'm working all alone now. I also went along to a free session at the Google Garage by MadeBrave called "Boosting your Brand with Social Media". It was really well presented and I loved that they said "creativity beats big budget every time" – something I learnt from doing Scotland's First Cheese Toastie Festival last year!
9. Make connections. I was excited to see a tweet from Mike McGrail saying he'd set up a slack group for Marketers in Scotland, so I dived right in. I've had some experience using slack and am still getting used to it, but already it's been an amazing group to be a part of!
So that's what I've done so far – not including the really boring stuff like setting up spreadsheets and writing a contract. If there's anything you think I've forgotten, please do let me know, I'd really appreciate it!