If you’ve set out on a self employment career path, you’re not alone. Millions of Canadians are switching from traditional employment to freelancing, and those numbers are steadily rising. If you’re a self-employed worker who is just starting out, it’s important to learn the ins and outs of managing a business on your own. These self-employment tips can help you get on the right track and stay there.
Self-Employment Means Self-Scheduling
Many Canadians are thrilled about working for themselves, because they get to enjoy a more flexible schedule and earn what they’re worth. Although that freedom may be appealing, self-employed workers have to take steps to remain productive. Earning a viable income requires self-discipline.
Learning to manage time effectively and follow a schedule is one of the most important requirements for self-employed workers. It can take a long time to get your rhythm down. In the early stages, it’s natural to want to reap the benefits of flexibility by enjoying time off whenever the mood strikes. While there’s nothing wrong with taking a more relaxed approach to your work, maintaining motivation is crucial, and that requires careful scheduling.
It’s normal to have days when you don’t feel like working, and powering through that feeling is easier said than done. It’s an acquired skill. Start by creating a reasonable schedule, and make a point to follow it strictly.
For example, if your goal is to move beyond the nine-to-five work day, try scheduling your work from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and see how you feel. Avoid working only when the inspiration hits. Instead, carve out a concrete block of time to start and end your work day. After a while, transitioning into work mode on a consistent schedule becomes second nature.
Your Environment Affects Your Productivity
While a lot of self-employed advice focuses on money and time management, you should also consider the quality of your work days. After all, if you’re happy with your work environment, you’re naturally going to work harder and more often. Many independent contractors work from home, and that can be a wonderful experience. However, if you’re working from your bedroom, you may find it harder to focus. If possible, turn a spare room into a home office, or even rent a local office space. If these aren’t realistic options, you may want to seek out a quiet coffee shop where you can dive into your work.
In addition to finding a dedicated work space, you may want to take steps to elevate your work environment. As a self-employed worker, you have the freedom to customize your surroundings. Even little things such as decorations and a well-chosen music selection can make a big difference in boosting your mood. Investing in quality, tax-deductible work essentials such as a new desk and chair or a better computer can go a long way toward motivating you in both the short- and long-term.
Online Advertising Grows Your Business
These days, the internet offers a wide variety of self-promotion strategies for freelancers. In the early stages of self-employment, building your initial customer/client base takes time and effort. Fortunately, online advertising can go a long way toward connecting you with your target demographic. Although you should still pursue traditional networking and advertising opportunities, don’t overlook online advertising and social media as powerful tools for growth.
A key early step in building your business is creating a high-quality website for it. You can also hire a professional to build a site for you. Once you have a website, you can direct potential customers to it. You can also advertise your website through traditional media, such as business cards or fliers, and link to your website on online message boards, social media posts, and other internet platforms.
In addition to a website, you need a strong social media presence. On top of maintaining active social media accounts, you need to populate them with engaging content on a regular basis, such as blog posts and high-quality images or videos. Your content helps to establish you as a reputable authority in your field. If you’re not able to create quality content yourself, consider outsourcing it. Depending on your profession, you may be able to exchange work for services from other freelancers.
Collaboration During Self-Employment Can Open New Doors
One of the most important pieces of advice for self-employed workers is that they don’t have to do everything alone. Although it may be tempting to handle everything yourself at first, you need quality assistance if you want to grow. Even if you’re not in a position to hire employees or an assistant yet, a huge community of freelancers exists that’s happy to take on quick one-off projects. Virtual assistants can handle the majority of online duties that don’t require your personal touch. For example, you may want a blog post to market a new product or service. You could write it yourself, but time is money, and hiring a freelance writer may be the cheaper option. The quality of the post may also be higher than what you’re able to produce, improving your brand in the process.
In addition to outsourcing projects as needed, forming mutually beneficial business partnerships can help your operation thrive. If you build websites, for example, you could form a partnership with a graphic designer and refer clients to each other. You can also collaborate on projects and split the profits, and you can bundle your services to attract new clients and gain higher-paying jobs. There are millions of self-employed workers in Canada, so you should be able to find freelancers on the same page as you.
Saving Money Is Crucial
When it comes to self-employment, developing money management skills is crucial, especially if you’re getting started. It takes time to earn steady money, and it’s smart to prepare for times when business is slow. Even if you have a nest egg saved up to keep you afloat in the meantime, setting aside money for both living and business expenses is wise.
Beyond managing your cash flow for personal reasons, independent contractors have to pay their own income taxes. That means you need to prepare to pay a percentage of your earnings when the tax bill arrives. A good rule of thumb is to set aside 15 to 30 percent of your income for taxes.
The good news about filing self-employed taxes is that you can write off business expenses. Did you need to travel to the city to meet with a client? Save your gas receipts. Did you need to buy a new computer for your home office? Save the purchase receipt. Anything that’s used for business purposes can be deducted from your income tax, as long as you bought it with your own money. For example, if you earned $40,000 for the year and spent $3,000 on business expenses, you only have to pay an income tax on $37,000.
Using the right accounting tools can drastically improve your approach to money management. QuickBooks Self-Employed helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track expenses and manage their businesses on the go. Sign up now, and see how easy self-employment can be.