Want to be a full-time freelancer?

It has been awhile I did not write about business. Okay today I would like to share this topic to you. It is about freelancing.

What is freelance? Freelancing? or Freelancer? From wikipedia, A freelancer, freelance worker, or freelance is a self-employed person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any particular employer. The term was first used by Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) in Ivanhoe to describe a “medieval mercenary warrior” or “freelance“.

Freelancing is the new black. More and more people are braving it alone. It might seem a little strange for one to think about going into freelancing when the economy is bad but it is for this very reason that freelancing is fast expanding. In bad times, many businesses might not have the budget to hire full-time staff, but they are able to hire freelancers to work on projects.

I notice that more prople are going out on their own, whether solo or with a small team. And business knowledge sites like Yahoo! Small Business and Microsoft Small Business have sprung up to offer solutions to freelancers and small businesses. New freelancers, especially those who are fresh out of school or university, need to remember that they are starting a business. Getting work might not be difficult, but running a successful long-term business is a daunting task. Here are a few pointers:

  • Know a little about a lot

Or better yet, know a lot about a lot. First, you need to understand the generalities of running a business, from bookkeeping to taxes, to the laws relating to your industry as well as basic business laws. You need to decide on whether to be a sole proprietor or make your business a partnership or an incorporated entity. This decision directly affects all components of your business, from how you present yourself to your cash flow and taxes. So visit the Companies Commission of Malaysia’s website (Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia) www.ssm.com.my to learn more about the business structures available.

  • Money

I cannot stress enough why you need to get your accounting system straight from the get-go. When I began my company 10 years ago, I filed my receipts according to size. Your accounts need to be in order so that you are able to keep track of how well your business is doing, show (potential) investors how well your business is doing, show the taxman how much you don’t owe him and so on.

The first simple rule here is that there must be documented evidence of all monies going in and out of your business. Keep your receipts filed according to date. Second, ensure that you keep good records of the ins and outs, and do keep tab of recalcitrant or stubborn clients. These are the type of clients or customers who are happy to hire or to buy but are not happy to pay 🙂 – all they need is one small excuse to avoid paying up.

  • Make friends

Make proper use of them. Although the thought of having to socialize might put some of you off, you do need to have a network. And it is always good to cast your net far and wides; you never know whom or what you might need in the future.

You can network in many ways. Armed with a stack of business cards, attend your friend’s gallery, shop opening or go on outings with friends and friends of friends. You can also attend talks or seminars that related to your industry. Another option is network online, in a Yahoo! or Google groups, or social network sites like my space, Hi5, facebook, etc. Do remember, however, to look, listen and attend to others first.

  • Technology

This is something you should master. Almost all businesses have online presence now, while most industries have their directories in digital format. Increasingly, information is being stored or delivered in digital formats. The tech tide will not turn.

While some of us are naturally more inclined or just plain interested in learning what technology has to offer, there are those whose skull tightens and throbs at the word “computer”. Unfortunately, they need to find a cure for this, fast.

On many levels, my business runs entirely from my laptop, with the help of many internet tools. As for my conventional business, we operate from Canada (the principal), our factory (in Skudai, Johore), customer’s plant (Tikam Batu, Kedah) and my marketing office in Subang Jaya, that is why online tools are very important to us. Tools like skype, acrobat reader, google apps, and the many other Web 2.0 applications that become available frequently, are very important. Same goes with my simple online business. The technology is really important and does help mey business to grow to the next level.

When you start harnessing technology, you will find that work becomes much easier. The problem arises at the inception, when you have to learn about what is out there, how they work and then incorporating your preferred solution into your business.

You would face teething problems but once you have got that covered, it’s worthwhile. Reporting to your customers, managing your project and file sharing will be at your fingertips, and usually will not cost you anything.

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1 Comment so far

  1. boca computer repair on October 31st, 2010

    Good site, do have a newsletter? If you do not you really should get on that…this web site has great info!

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