If you've watched My Freelance Story video, you'll know that I dove headfirst into running Reux Design Co. full time. I quit my job on a day when I was feeling especially frustrated with the 9-5 (more like 8am-7pm in my case) office life. I didn't prepare. I didn't save up money. I didn't even know exactly what I wanted to do with my new found freedom. Luckily for me, my fiancé owned a business and was able to support us while I figured out my life (ha!). But it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows.
I am 100% happy with how everything has turned out thus far, but there are a few things I wish I'd known first, or at least thought about, before I started working for myself. So today I'm sharing 4 ways you can prepare before you take your creative business full time. Hopefully these can save you some time, effort or stress with your business journey.
I shared these 4 actionable steps that will help you prepare for a full time business in a video on my YouTube channel this week. Watch the video below or read through to see everything I talked about.
01. Prepare Financially
This one's a big one, and probably the thing you're most concerned with. Keep in mind that everyone's situations are different so use what I'm sharing and tailor it to your family/needs/lifestyle/etc.
Going full time with your business can be very scary when you no longer have a steady income or know when you'll get paid next. Preparing ahead of time will greatly relieve your stress and give you the energy to focus on building a business, not worry about money. Plus - nothing good comes from a fear-based mindset. If you're constantly thinking "I NEED a client so I can pay my bills," then you won't be in a place to do your best work, or attract your ideal client for that matter.
Sit down and write out all of your life expenses. Don't estimate or guess. Actually tally everything up so you know what your base minimum is. Now you know how much to save. I recommend saving anywhere from 2-6 months worth of money to have as a buffer while you get your business off the ground.
This also gives you an idea of how much income you need to make to sustain yourself. Remember to take into account for taxes (estimate about 25-40% if you live in the USA... the number varies, but it's better to estimate high here.) For example, if you need $2500 each month to live, multiply that by 1.3 (30%) and you would get $3250. Now you have enough to save for taxes and pay your bills.
Money isn't the most fun topic. And it can be stressful to think of how much money you need to make each month. However, this will give you a clear idea of how many sales you have to make or clients you need to book. Set your goals + pricing accordingly from there.
02. Strategize Your Time
A lack of time is the next biggest issue freelancers can have. Running a business means you're balancing every job title all at once. You play the role of creator, designer, marketer, social media manager, customer service rep, accountant and more. Often it can feel like you don't have enough time in the day to get everything done, but these few strategies will help.
First, use a time blocking method. Whether it's the Pomodoro technique or using a time cube, this will keep you focused and on track. Basically, at the beginning of the day write down a list of what you want to accomplish. (It's better to keep this list to 3-5 major tasks. Much more and you'll feel overwhelmed).
Then estimate how much time each will take i.e. 1 hour for emails. Then, set your timer for 1 hour, push through with no breaks/distractions and when the hour is up, move on. Give yourself a 5-10 minute break in between tasks. This saves you from spending WAY too long on things that won't help your business in the long run, and get focused with the time you do spend working.
Next, batch your tasks. This one is pretty simple - do all similar things at once. Basically, if you want to publish 3 blog posts each week, write, shoot, and edit all 3 at once on Monday instead of doing them individually throughout the week.
When you switch between tasks throughout the day, it takes your brain a while to catch up and refocus. So batching your tasks eliminates that fuzzy "switching" time and lets you get more done with less effort.
03. Hone In On Your Niche
Here's the thing. You don't need to serve all of the people, get everyone to like you or offer every service imaginable. It's easy to feel like casting a wide net at the beginning will give you more opportunities to find customers. But in reality, this just confuses your potential, ideal customers. Now is not the time to be a jack of all trades.
Spend a day and write out exactly what makes your heart excited. Create a detailed description of your ideal customer. Plan on offering products & services that only they would want. When you narrow in on a specific niche or focus, you create a business that is memorable to the right people. You also set yourself as an expert and a trusted sources because people can easily see what you focus on, and that you're good at that specific job.
04. Grow Your Community
Of course, to have a thriving business, you have to have a community of people willing to buy your product or service. It's SO much easier to launch a business if you have at least some sort of following or community (whether this is 1K or 100K).
First & foremost, focus on growing this community. Start an email list even if you only have 5 people subscribed. Build your brand with regular blog posts, videos or podcast content. Post regularly on social media with work, testimonials and information that your community can only get from you.
I recently posted two helpful articles for this: Optimizing Pinterest to Build Your Business and Using Video Marketing to Grow Your Audience. No matter which platform(s) you decide to use, make a schedule and stick to it. You want potential readers and clients to want to head back to your site, excited about new content.
Keep in mind, that to build a community of followers, you need to be giving value of some sort. Share your expertise, your stories or your advice. Just remember that readers are much more likely to stay interested if there's something in it for them. Share that value & build the trust.
At the end of the day, everyone's business journey will be different. But these 4 actionable steps will definitely help you prepare or get through those first few months of trial & error when launching your creative business full time.
I would love to know in a comment below: what did you do/are you currently doing to prepare yourself for full-time creative entrepreneurship?