You have taken the plunge and made that all important decision to go it alone. You have joined the ever-increasing number of freelancers who, each year, are choosing to work for themselves.

In fact, reports from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of those who class themselves as self-employed has risen from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017.

Perhaps you are following a life long dream or passion, bored with the humdrum 9 to 5 routine, pursuing a lucrative business idea, or simply looking for more freedom and control in your life?

Whatever reason you have for running your own business, one thing remains certain, you are about to embark on a journey (yes, that word) that will give rise to many new challenges.

So what do you need to consider when pre-empting these challenges?

1. Business Plan

Every business should have in place a business plan. This will also be useful if you are looking to apply for a start-up loan.

There are a number of free online templates that will guide you through it.

Once you have your objectives, strategies and financial forecasts laid out, you will move forward with confidence.

2. Marketing

You will have incorporated into your business plan a Marketing Strategy. It is key to the success of your business that you implement this at every given opportunity.

Ensure you have a domain name and a website and make full use of social media for increased exposure.

Attend networking events and be ready to mingle.

If you do struggle with confidence in new situations, just remember many successful people do. Be yourself, ask questions and listen.

Also, have your business card at the ready. If paper waste is a concern for you, look into sourcing recycled cards.

3. Clients – Managing Expectations

Clients, love them or hate them, you can’t live without them.

When taking on new clients be sure to have in place an agreed scope of work document. This should clearly set out the project objectives, include a timeline, your deliverables, payment details and terms and conditions.

It may be that a formal scope of work document is not appropriate for your business. It is still worth making sure that, at the very least, your brief and payment terms are agreed in writing.

Keep regular communication with your client throughout the job remembering to under promise and over deliver.

4. Working Environment

Many freelancers choose to work from home as it fits in with family life. If this is the case, make sure you have a designated area of work. This is important as it allows you to separate your work from your home space, which in turn will impact on your focus and productivity.

If closing yourself off in a small office space makes you feel isolated, try working from a local cafe. It’s a good way to network and many coffee shops are set up to accommodate freelance workers.

If budgets allow and isolation presents a real problem, you may want to look into co-working spaces.

Another advantage of co-working is that most workspaces provide a paper recycling service, so if you are unable to go completely paperless (paper usage has increased 126% in 20 years), you have the peace of mind of knowing your paper usage is being responsibly recovered.

5. Eat, Sleep and Rest

Without the structure of a working day, it can become too easy to spend all your waking hours working, especially if your work involves spending long hours at a display screen.

Remember to take regular breaks, eat healthy snacks and to step away from the screen directly before bedtime.

For more information on working safely with display screens visit the Health and Safety Executive website.

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