The things you need to start a freelance business around your family
So, you’re thinking about starting a freelance business? Woop! You know it’s going to be a challenge (even if a flippin’ exciting one!) but with the added pressure of having little people to feed — you want to try to make things work from the start. Rightly so.
What exactly do you need to start freelancing and what can you skip?
We’re here to help you avoid a whole load of wasted cash and precious headspace with our list of things you do (and crucially, don’t!) need when starting out as a freelancer:
A business bank account
One thing to do from the very beginning is to separate your personal stuff from your business stuff with a dedicated business bank account.
Trust us when we tell you that making sure you have a business bank account will save you confusion, overspending, and unnecessary detective work when sorting out your expenses at the end of the financial year.
If the thought of setting up a business bank sounds like ‘too much faff’, don’t panic! An account with one of the challenger banks like Starling or Monzo can be set up in a couple of minutes, from your phone, with pretty much one hand (which is a win if you’ve got a baby permanently attached to your hip!)
Our friends over at Being Freelance have an excellent article on the best business bank accounts for freelancers that is well worth a look.
Plus, having a business debit card with your business name on it makes you feel legit, no? Imagine the joy: “Why yes, I will have these Mars bars on my business bank account thank you!”
And while we’re talking finances, it’s also worth getting yourself some accounting software and an accountant.
We know, we know. You’re thinking, “I can’t afford an accountant yet?!” — and we hear you. But there are different levels of packages out there. You don’t have to sign up for everything, but having somebody you can ask questions to, whatever the level, is genuinely priceless and can save you money on your tax bill.
There are some fantastic accountants in the DIFTK community who are obviously available to hire and are incredible at answering generic accountacy questions. Because helping eachother out is what community is all about, no?
A contract and insurance
Having a bank account and an accountant in place is all part of a mindset shift that’s crucial when starting out as a freelancer. It’s all too easy to underplay what you do, but with this key stuff in place — you’re telling the world (and yourself!) that this ‘little’ business is serious.
Similarly, having a contract and the right insurance is a wise move. A contract that makes it clear how you work, how you’ll receive payment, and how you generally do business will save you many, many headaches in the future. Just get it done!
There are various legal templates out there (paid and free) but in an ideal world, try to work with a freelance lawyer who can create a contract specific to your business needs.
Plus, sorting business insurance is vital if you want to give yourself and your family the reassurance that you’re protected if a major freelance fuck-up occurs.
Ok, this one’s a bit controversial… but bear with us!
In freelance land, some people argue that you can skip building a website and that it’s far better to wait until you’re established and have some money to throw at it before setting one up. With lots of communities and professional directories out there, there’s usually somewhere you can list yourself quite easily without one and, of course, there’s social media as a means to find clients as well.
However, if you’re one of lots of freelancers listed in a directory or shouting about yourself on LinkedIn — by having a website linked from your profile you are giving yourself the best possible chance of getting work.
A website allows people to see your face, they can read your ‘about’ page, they can get a feel for who you are… There’s a button where they can contact you, book a call, ask you for a quote. They can see your testimonials etc etc.
You don’t need to spend tonnes of money on it, but a website isn’t just a nice-to-have. We reckon it’s a must-have. Get a professional URL, an email address at that URL and look the part.
All that being said, don’t let having the ‘perfect’ website hold you back. Done is better than perfect. Get yourself out there and sharpen your messaging later.
Some decent photos of you
Speaking of websites, having a nice, clear photo of yourself on your website is a brilliant way to build trust and connection with your potential clients. If you want to start saving for a business-boosting ‘nice-to-have’ — put a personal branding photo session on the list.
And for the vast majority of us freelance parents, childcare is an absolute must-have when it comes to starting a business. Some DIFTKers manage to work solely aorund their children, but that kind of setup tends to be relatively rare. And nap times, moods and needs can change quickly as they grow.
Whether it’s booking a childminder, signing your kids up to after-school clubs, or arranging something with the grandparents — make sure you have a plan about how you’re actually going to get time to work.
It will be sanity saving to have a plan about where the kids are going to be, with whom, when, for how long, and how much is that going to cost.
Once you start committing to clients and blocking your time out, you need to know what’s realistic and what isn’t given the amount of childcare you have available.
Having said all of that, ultimately there are endless investments you could make in a new freelance business — a new computer, visual branding, coaching, social scheduling software, ad budget… And really, there’s no right or wrong in what you start with.
The biggest mistake you can make is getting sucked into the ‘shoulding’ of launching and buying stuff or holding yourself back based on what you *think* you need.
There’s no one way to do this stuff. And what your business needs is dependent on your industry, your personality, your family, your life.
Try not to fret, start small, focus on what you want from your business and how you can start getting clients on your terms, and as you start making money and getting more confident; you’ll be more able to decide what is and isn’t necessary to help you grow.
As cliché as it sounds, all you really need to get started is the courage to go for it! Good luck!
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