So you’ve decided to go for it. You’ve weighed up the pros and cons and decided to ditch the commute and the office politics and start-up on your own. Skills and ideas in hand you are ready to launch…
1. Get a name and get it out there!
As a business or a freelancer, you need to create your own brand. It focuses on who you are and what you offer. It makes you identifiable and recognisable. It gives you a context or a ‘story’ that is easier for people to connect with. A name and a basic identity are where you start. Take some time to think about this, make it your own and then shout it from the rooftops!
This will be an important starting point for your website, we’ll come to that in a minute, and for your all your marketing. You can build your brand on social channels or forums, print it on business cards, flyers or local ads, but why not try something a little different to get you noticed. Whether it’s a quality notepad or a reusable water bottle, it creates a sense of authority and being established. If you then give these to clients and friends, they’ll be pleased to receive a ‘gift’ and will have something memorable and physical that will help to spread the word. There are loads of businesses that can do this like https://actionpromote.co.uk/products/ and there is usually a lot of choices. Try to go to a UK company with some decent reviews because ordering online means you cant always check the quality first.
Having a website is a pretty basic requirement as people expect to be able to find you or your services online. It doesn’t need to be groundbreaking and the technology available these days makes it fairly easy to get a decent site up. 34% of the entire web use WordPress https://wordpress.com/ and with good reason. It’s free, accessible and intuitive. There are many tools and templates to help you layout and design a good-looking site, and even tackle basic SEO.
Even if you decide to get someone else to build your website for you, then having a WordPress site will ensure you can easily update it or add blogs etc. Even if you don’t know your front end from your back end (we’re still talking websites), you can quickly master enough to get around without feeling like an old dog, and this gives you some control.
3. Professional email account
If you are trying to get across how professional you are and how you are worth the investment, firstname.lastname@example.org just doesn’t cut it. With domains starting at £1 a year, and email hosting at £1 a month, going for your a personalised email shows you are a serious contender and not just one of billion-plus Gmail freeloaders. Keep the Gmail; t’s a good idea to keep your personal and business accounts separate to ensure you are in the right zone for work.
4. Network, network
Whether you love the idea of being in a room of new people or whether it fills you with horror, networking is an incredibly effective tool for freelancers and SMEs. If people know you a little, they are more likely to be willing to work with you, and more likely to recommend you to their contacts. And so the cycle starts. And it isn’t as daunting as it seems. Ultimately everyone is in a similar situation, all wanting and needing to make contacts.
It is a good idea to have a brief introduction at the ready, just so you can relax and not worry about being put on the spot when asked ‘what do you do?’ It’ll also help you describe the best you. A networking group like the Platinum Club could be of interest or you may be able to get advice nationally from the Federation of Small Businesses https://www.fsb.org.uk/. You can always start your networking on Linked In – join some groups, follow interesting businesses, research and make connections. It all counts.
5. Keep learning
Ok, you’ve only just started, but let’s embrace the need to keep learning from the offset. Of course, we are always learning, even just to keep up-to-date. By acquiring and using new knowledge you’ll find ways to work better, but also get better work, and be more fulfilled. You don’t have the ride the wave of every new insight, update and trend, just find the way that suits you to keep current, fresh and engaged.
Networking can be part of this. Also attending shows, fairs or events in your industry, check out what’s on near you at EventBrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk. Just keeping abreast of discussions and happenings online can be immensely useful. If you are looking for some specific knowledge to assist you, LinkedIn Learning https://www.linkedin.com/learning/me (which used to be called Lynda) offers a host of quality online courses and training videos on an incredibly diverse range of topics.
Right, the world is your oyster. Go get ‘em!