Part II: You Took the Plunge, Now What?
Previously, I laid out some things to consider before venturing on the path of entrepreneurship. Now that you’ve taken the leap, here are some tips to get started:
Get in formation: Will you be a solo practitioner or will you create a limited liability company? The business structure you choose determines your liability in case you’re ever sued, as well as your tax liability. Also, if your city or town requires you to file a “Doing Business As” certificate, make sure to do so. Additionally, you should obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Having an EIN is not only useful when opening up a bank account for your business, but you can use this number (instead of your social security number) for tax purposes, such as if companies hire you and issue you a 1099.
Protect yourself: Many agreements are finalized with a handshake, but it’s always better to have things in writing. While the boilerplate templates you’ll find searching the web or at office supply stores seem convenient, they might not adequately protect you and your business. Speak with an attorney to determine which documents you’ll need for your business. Also, consider purchasing liability insurance. Not only will this offer an extra layer of protection for you and your business, but some companies will not hire an independent contractor unless he or she is carrying a certain amount of liability insurance.
Make money: Talking about money is difficult, but it matters. Determine the price of your product, or if you’re providing a service, figure out your hourly rate or flat fee per project. One way to figure out an ideal hourly rate is by dividing your target income by 2080 hours (40 hours a week in a year). If you’re currently working and want to freelance, you can use your existing salary to determine your fee per project. For example, if your current job pays you $500 a day, don’t accept less than that dollar amount per project. A great resource for figuring out how to pay yourself is the book Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz.
Spread the word: If you build it, they won’t come if nobody knows about it. Find out where your target clients and customers are and market yourself accordingly. Tell everyone you know what you’re doing and don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. If you’re attending events, always be ready to explain what you do in a clear, succinct way (try ten words or less), and be sure to follow up with those you’ve connected with. Create clean and professional business cards to carry with you (my fave site to use is Moo.com, a small business based in Rhode Island; and if you use this link you’ll get 25% off your first order).
You should also create a web presence. Squarespace has a lot of modern and clean looking web templates that make it easy to create and manage your website. If you don’t want to commit to a website just yet, create a free business page on Facebook, and create corresponding social media accounts. Regardless of how you choose to tell people about your business, the key is to consistently engage with your network and customers.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, one of which allows you and the author of this post to receive a discount on products mentioned. You are under no obligation to use these links.
Bianca Jordan, Esq., MBA is the founder + owner of Brazen Legal, a law firm that helps creatives with their business, immigration, and trademark needs. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.