As an inde­pen­dent web worker it’s crit­i­cally impor­tant to get a proper han­dle on every­thing you need to deal with from day-​​to-​​day to keep you busi­ness run­ning. Thank­fully, Col­lis Ta’eed over at Northx­East has done the work for you. His post, A com­pre­hen­sive guide to start­ing your free­lance career, has every­thing a young (or even an expe­ri­enced) free­lancer needs to know.

Rather than reit­er­ate Col­lis’ words, I’ll add my own few bits and pieces based on my recent deci­sion to become inde­pen­dent, plus some thoughts in gen­eral. Some of these are Australian-​​specific, oth­ers are gen­er­ally applicable:

  • never, ever bad­mouth a col­league, the com­pe­ti­tion or some­one else in the indus­try. It will come back to bite you;
  • it will prob­a­bly take you two years to be decently prof­itable. Dead set. Are you pre­pared to wait that long. If not, don’t freelance;
  • talk it over at length with your spouse/​SO and fam­ily before­hand and involve them in the deci­sion. They will have opin­ions and feel­ings you’ll want to know about. Alli and I had some near-​​fights over my deci­sion, as I didn’t give her enough infor­ma­tion for her peace of mind (I had it, I just couldn’t artic­u­late it);
  • find the best accoun­tant and finan­cial adviser you can. Ask your col­leagues for refer­rals and you’ll find some­one worthwhile;
  • form a com­pany, depend­ing on your income. AU$100K is about the mark for this to be necessary;
  • reg­is­ter for an ABN. If you plan to do busi­ness in Aus­tralia, you don’t have a choice;
  • get appro­pri­ate insur­ance. As a web worker, the need for this is fairly low, but bet­ter to be safe than sorry. Check with your accountant/​financial adviser;
  • buy the best kit you can afford as early as you can afford it. Note­book PC, big LCD mon­i­tor, net­work­ing gear, what­ever. Buy it and turn it into an asset — tax benefits!
  • the 1:1 rela­tion­ship between bill­able and busi­ness devel­op­ment hours is prob­a­bly on the gen­er­ous side. Some­times, it can be as high as 1:3 — that is, one bill­able hour for every three on devel­op­ment and find­ing work. Ouch!
  • clients will pay at the last pos­si­ble moment. Make sure your invoice terms are very clear and that you can carry the finan­cial load while you wait. I invoice 7 days net, unless the job I’m doing is con­tract­ing through an agency, in which case pay is dealt with dif­fer­ently depend­ing on who you are deal­ing with;
  • buy a copy of MYOB and learn how to use it. You will have greater peace of mind, and your accoun­tant will love you for it, and;
  • lastly, remem­ber that every­thing comes out of your pocket now. This is both good and bad. You no longer have to ask any­one whether you can go to a con­fer­ence, or buy a piece of kit, but you do need to make sure you can afford it.

I know it sounds like I’m harp­ing on finan­cial issues here, but frankly, busi­ness is about the bot­tom line. No mat­ter how good you are at your job, you’re doomed if you can’t sort the money side of the busi­ness out.

Via Problog­ger.