Starting a freelance business – checklist for startups
As someone who has recently taken the plunge as a freelance copywriter and content writer, I spent a fair portion of time in the run-up browsing the web for advice to help with my new venture. While it was useful, I struggled to find one resource that had it all.
So, before entering the scary but exciting world of self-employment, I began to compile the mother of all lists. As a self-confessed list-lover, I had no trouble writing down the ‘to-dos’ despite the length of the list becoming unquestionably petrifying. But this was no time for self-doubt!
Now I’ve officially started as a freelancer, I thought I’d share my list, in case it’s of help to other individuals who are thinking of starting their own business. It’s by no means finished, so please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments box and I’ll add them on.
Freelance Business Checklist
- Inform HMRC (and any other companies that apply) of change of circumstances
- Write a business plan
You can find business plan templates on the Government website as a starting point. The key thing I’ve learnt: You probably won’t find a template that matches all your needs initially, but it will evolve so it’s better to get stuck in and adapt it over time. It can seem a daunting, mammoth task, so view it as a working document and keep chipping away.
- Organise business cards
A traditional but vital form of marketing (don’t forget to always carry some, too – you never know when you might need them!)
- Set up a business email address
It looks professional and first impressions count (after much faffing with trying to create aliases I learnt from my mistakes and bought a mailbox with my website hosting provider – I haven’t looked back).
- Professional email signature
- Disclaimer for email signature
As I understand it this is not a requirement for sole traders, but it is for Ltd companies, etc.
- Buy a dedicated work laptop
- Set up a healthy workspace
- Open a business bank account
This might not be an immediate requirement, but something to consider.
- Professional Indemnity Insurance
This is a definite.
- Proposals and contract
Create a template proposal and contract so you have them on hand, ready to adapt to clients when needed – it’ll save time later.
- Look into pension options
- Consider trademark/copyright for your brand/logo
Again, this might not be an immediate requirement, but it’s worth considering.
- Set-up Google for Business
- Create a system for backing up work
Whether Dropbox, iCloud, an external hard drive or a combination, it’s crucial to have a system in place to protect your files.
- Update LinkedIn profile
- Prepare copy for LinkedIn profile summary
- Update CV to reflect new venture
- Prepare a portfolio
- Create a Twitter account…
…and start using it (don’t forget to include your Twitter handle on your website and business cards).
- Purchase a domain
- Buy hosting and create a website
Personally, I’m a fan of WordPress. Whatever site you use, don’t underestimate the time you will spend playing around with it!
- Write and upload content to your website
Your ‘home’ page, ‘about’ page and means of contact is a good place to start. Your website will evolve over time so don’t sweat the small stuff to begin with. Get it live and go from there.
- Have you got a headshot for your website?
An image makes it more personal.
- Create Terms of Service page
- Https (purchase SSL certificate) for website
If you’ve got contacts you can approach for a testimonial initially, great. Don’t forget to ask clients going forward – testimonials are a powerful marketing tool.
- Set-up a Google Analytics account and apply tracking to website
- Set-up Google Search Console/Webmaster
- Jot down blog topics to cover as and when they come to mind and formulate a plan
- Contact your local Chamber of Commerce and enquire about business support
I’ve been working with a business advisor from the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce who has been a wonderful source of support. With many years’ experience and knowledge, they can advise on how to develop your business, recommended networking events and there are even free workshops you can attend – for FREE (did I mention that already?!)
- Research local networks
There are a plethora of networking groups out there which come in a variety of shapes and sizes – the key is to find the ones that suit you.
- Research networks relevant to your field
For example, The Pro Copywriters’ Network for copywriters – an invaluable source of information and support.
- Reach out to your current network
Don’t be afraid to let your friends, family and professional network know about your new business – not only will they be an important source of support, but they might even require your services (or know someone who does).
- List areas for development so you have clear goals to work towards
Include any training in your business plan.
When working through the long list of ‘to-dos’, you might like to keep the following quote in mind – I think it’s spot on:
What have I missed? Any additions welcomed…
Good luck with your venture!