5 Tips for Growing a Freelance Business

by Vault Careers | October 24, 2011

  • My Vault

With so many Americans looking for work, many job seekers have decided to reinvent themselves by starting their own freelance business. We recently discussed whether or not freelancing was a viable career option, with reports that many freelancers were not getting paid for their work in a timely manner.  Despite this new troubling trend - most likely a direct result of an uncertain economy - freelancing is still one of the best ways to make money and add new experience to your resume.  Making freelance work your full-time job is a risk worth taking.  Although starting a new enterprise can be a challenge in any economy, there are some things that aspiring entrepreneurs can do to enhance and grow their companies.

1. Network

One of the most important things for freelancers and new business owners to do is to make sure they are getting the word out about what they have to offer. According to Business Insider, it's not enough anymore for freelancers to think that they just need to be available to their clients when they call. Entrepreneurs need to build a professional website, as well as a network on social media sites in order to get let people know they are available. Other ways of networking for new business owners include giving away complimentary services or products, teaching a local adult education class or becoming a paid industry speaker.  In the end, if no one knows you exist, you'll never find work.  So, keep networking. 

2. Think like a professional

Entering the freelance market is a big decision.  It's not something that should be entered into overnight.  A lot of thought goes into it.  When you make freelancing your full-time job, you don't have a human resources professional setting up everything from your taxes to your healthcare, so there is a lot that needs to be researched. Freelancers looking to expand their offerings need to think like a professional business owner, including making sure they have the proper business licenses and credentials to operate if necessary. Independent workers also need to look at potential tax issues facing their business and personal properties. 

3. Think big

Freelancers who feel ready to branch out may want to consider opening another location for their business. Small business consultant Frances McGuckin said that while a new location is a good way to give the appearance that a business is growing, entrepreneurs need to proceed with caution.

"Physical expansion isn't always the best growth answer without careful research, planning and number-planning," McGuckin suggested.

He said that business owners want to always maintain a consistent bottom-line profit and look at trends before considering exactly where to grow.

4. Consider licensing and franchise opportunities

Entrepreneurs who have a new product on the market may want to consider finding a licensing partner to help them brand or market their business. Larry Bennett, director of the Larry Friedman International Center for Entrepreneurship at Johnson & Wales University told Entrepreneur magazine that licensing can also help business owners minimize their risks at relatively low costs.

"You can receive upfront monies and royalties from the continued sales or use of your software, name brand, etc.-if it's successful," Friedman added.

5. Keep clients happy

It takes more time and effort to attract new clients than it does to retain existing customers, so small business owners will get more return on their investment if they make sure people are happy with their services. Once a freelancer builds a solid client base, he or she can continue to grow a successful company.  By keeping your current customer-base happy, you will see your business expand through word-of-mouth alone.  Upsetting your clients will have the exact opposite effect.  Happy customers will make your decision to go freelance a decision you can be happy with. 

--Published courtesy of Brafton (additional material by Jon Minners, Vault.com)

Filed Under: Networking | Workplace Issues

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