Do you have friends who ask you to proofread their reports? Or maybe they want your help designing a logo or building website? Do people ask you to photograph their wedding? Perhaps you’re the go-to person for tech help among family members?
Whatever your skill set, these friendly requests could be highlighting opportunities for freelance work.
Fast Company reported that 35% of the U.S. workforce is now freelancing, around 57 million people, with income that “currently makes up almost 5% of the country’s GDP, or close to $1 trillion.”
Before you go and quit your day-job for the world of freelance work, there are few things to consider to make sure the decision to go solo is right for you.
And the Poudre River Public Library can help! In addition to having a dedicated Business Librarian and Career Librarian available to do research and work with you one-on-one, the Library has a variety of resources and materials to help you take those first steps toward freelance success.
Some quick market research will tell you whether or not your freelance business is viable in your area. Is there demand for what you’re offering? How large is your potential customer base? Who are your competitors?
The answers to these and other critical questions will determine whether becoming a freelancer is feasible.
Among the many market research services provided by our Business Librarian are industry overviews and trends, competitive analyses, demographics, lifestyle statistics, mailing lists, and more. Online reports and statistics can be accessed for free using Library eResources like Statista, First Research, Reference USA, Encyclopedia of American Businesses, and others.
2. Plan for success
Start your freelance journey off right with a plan. You probably don’t need a 25-page structured document, but spending time writing up your goals, financial needs, and plans for growth is helpful for keeping yourself accountable and for measuring success. If you’re anticipating moving from a freelancer to a solopreneur and expanding your business, then a business plan is useful
In addition to the many business planning books and eBooks, Library staff can help you navigate the Business Plans Handbook Collection. Sample plans serve as examples of how to approach, structure, and compose business plans.
3. Forming the business
Are you forming a business or just doing a side gig for extra cash? As you’re planning, you’ll need to determine the type of entity to establish and register with the CO Secretary of State: a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company (LLC), or something different.
The legal and financial aspects of forming a business should be researched carefully before putting everything together. You’ll want to ensure you have any necessary licenses or permits and are appropriately set up with the CO Department of Revenue for taxes.
The Library can help you access registration forms and point you in the direction of digital resources to guide you in forming your business. One of the most useful resources is Colorado Business Resource Guide which is available at the Library and online. A frequently-used database is the Legal Information Resource Center which includes legal guides and forms for ownership structure, accounting and audits, and more.
4. Work space
Where you’ll work is a big consideration in planning your new venture. Do you have space for a home office? What about leasing co-working space?
Did you know the public libraries have available space for you to work? In addition to the open work spaces at all three Poudre Libraries, there are also collaboration and small group / study rooms that can be reserved for free at Old Town Library. These rooms are useful for connecting with clients, holding meetings, and even conducting conference calls and video calls.
If your freelance gig is marketing, then you’re probably set to promote your services to potential clients. But not everyone has marketing skills and strategies up their sleeve. The Library has a number of great books and eBooks covering marketing how-to’s including social media strategy, creating a website, and email marketing. There are also databases like First Research and Reference USA that allow you to examine demographics, consumer trends, and other useful customer data to find and target potential customers.
6. Contracts and agreements
The Legal Information Reference Center offers an entire section on consulting and contracting, including samples forms for specific services like bookkeeping, social media consulting, and others. These contracts are useful for project-based and hourly services.
There are also useful reference books like “Contracts: The Essential Business Desk Reference” that can guide you in setting up work agreements.
7. Taxes and finances
It’s always important to consult a professional in legal and financial matters. But to help you understand some of the critical concepts, you’ll find library books and eBooks on topics from basic accounting to QuickBooks how-to.
The Legal Information Reference Center will also help. It includes the eBook “Home Business Tax Deductions” and also has resources for business accounting and audits.
For other legal and financial questions, our Business Librarian can help you get in touch with local professionals and consultants, and find additional support through our partnership with the Larimer Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
This guest post is by Katie Auman of the Poudre River Public Library District.