Two Words: Market Research

How do you know if you have a great idea for a business?  First things first –> conduct some market research!  Market research will tell you if there’s an opportunity to turn your passions and ideas into a successful business.  When you conduct market research you’ll gather information about your customers, your target audience, and also see if there are similar businesses operating this type of business.  If you’re opening a local business, this will become especially important.  If you’re going to do most of your business online, then your potential customer base won’t be as limited.

Once you’ve done your research, you’ll use that information to find your competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Write Your Business Plan

Even if you’re not seeking funding for your business, it’s important to write some type of a business plan.  Consider it a type of road map for how you’ll structure your business (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc), how you’ll run it, and how you’ll ultimately scale your business.  In order for people to hire you, you’ll need to know your brand inside and out –> who you are & what you do!  

Paying for your Freelance Business

Some business ideas require very little funding, while others may need some significant start-up cash to get your idea off the ground.  Your business plan will also help with this step as it helps you identify your needs for getting started.  If you’re short on funds, you’ll have to find ways to borrow or raise capital.  

Location, Location, Location

Most freelancers can enjoy the luxury of operating their business from the comfort of their own home.  Working from home provides lots of cost-saving measures.  Don’t worry about appearing “unprofessional” because you don’t have a fancy office to invite your clients in.  Find a local co-work space, a coffee shop (hello, Starbucks!), or offer to go to your client’s office for your first meeting.  

Business Structure

The legal structure you choose for your business impacts what paperwork you have to register with your state and how you file and pay your taxes.  I outline several business structures for freelancers here.  

Name the Baby

Choosing your business name can sometimes be more difficult than naming your own children.  You want a business name that reflects your brand, but also makes sense to your potential customer… and you also need a name that isn’t already taken.  When I first started freelancing, I simply used my name + “Creative Services”. 

Get your Tax ID

You’ll use your EIN or Employer Identification Number for paying taxes, but also for getting paid.  Registering for an EIN is very simple and can be done here.  

Check for Licenses

Depending on the type of freelance business you’ll be offering, you may need additional licenses to operate your business legally.  Check with your state and local government to maintain compliance.  

Open a Business Banking Account

If you expect to receive checks written out to your business name, you’ll need a business banking account.  Plus, it helps for keeping your finances in order especially come tax time!  Make an appointment with your bank and make sure to have your EIN with you.  Make sure to shop around to different banks to find one with the lowest fees.