By Mariama Gregory
For a little over six months, I have operated and owned my own sh*t. Out the gate I juggled 10 clients on retainer and had waves of dope clients who needed me here and there. I’ve been doing it all alone. I’m not bragging about that. It’s actually quite stupid and shawty has a new kind of burnout I didn’t even know existed. 😂 There were things I wish I knew six months ago and I want to share them with anyone launching their own start-up buisness — especially people who have to start out as solopreneurs.
Here’s some ish I learned that people skip on telling you when you’re trying to be serious about launching your own thang:
1. Are you a freelancer or cultivating a business? Sometimes the lines can feel blurred when you’re starting out, especially if you’re building your business alone. Either way, it’s vital for you to be clear about that choice so you can establish your focus and direction!
2. Come up with your plan to pay your taxes. When are you going to pay them? Quarterly? Annually? Do some research on reputable advisors who can possibly help you with the process. The real gag is you need to think about taxes when you’re coming up with your service or product prices! Up to 30% of what you’re charging is going to go back into your taxes. Know your worth and add tax…literally.
3. Have a process to keep track of all of your business expenses! See #2 for reasoning. Gas to meet with a client? Coffee for your staff meeting? Do you use software? Keep track of ALL OF IT.
4. Come up with a proposal/estimate template. They are soooooooo time consuming! Time is not only money but energy and effort you’re not giving your current clients — or to napping. Make a few of them based off your varying services if you need to. Remember, not everyone you send a proposal to will choose to work with you. Don’t give away your billable hours for FREE by trying to customize.
5. CREATE A CONTRACT. CREATE A CONTRACT. CREATE A CONTRACT. Ugh, I made this simple mistake with a few of my original clients! Create a contract, outline your terms and the agreements. The most important part? What you’re getting paid, when, and an outline of expectations. You do not need to complicate this, but you should have something that clients sign BEFORE you start any work. Period, pooh.
6. There are sparse ways to get around fees when it comes to accepting payments. Think about processing fees when you think of your pricing. Opening a business account with a bank generally isn’t the move if you’re starting your business with limited funds coming in. However, make it a priority down the line.
7. If you eventually want to hire people, think through your business structure. What are the positions? What are the job descriptions and titles? What’s your leadership track? Who is part-time or full-time? Think about what types of people you want to be working with you as you build. Create all of it as if you had 10M+ and could hire whoever you wanted. Curate job descriptions, offer letters, an HR process, contracts, and etc. Also, look up the laws for hiring employees! Florida has, of course, rules and regulations you must adhere to when hiring.
8. Yo! Time management is very serious. My first few weeks of working on my own, I was overwhelmed and completely fumbled my time management. I ended up getting dismissed from working with a client after I humble bragged about how dope I’d be. I was late in my responses, I started working on samples late, so I was rushing, and my designs weren’t cohesive. There were some other nuances, but I could have fucking nailed it and I didn’t because I was sloppy with my time. EMBARRASSING. There is no one way to do time management. Early riser or middle of the night worker — whatever your style is, make your time make sense.
9. Working from home is cool and all but WHEW, too many days in your house can make you feel a little stir crazy– a little cabin feverish. I believe your home should be your sanctuary. My suggestion is to balance out the days between working from home and working elsewhere. There are a lot of affordable co-working places popping up around South Florida. Working at a co-working hub also affords you opportunities to network with other entrepreneurs and goal-getters!
10. As The Good Book says, “Write it down. Make it plain. Run with it.” Okay, I’ve chopped up the verse just a little bit, but it pretty much says that! Get yourself a creative journal. This is a no pressure journal (physical or digital version) where you jot down anything and everything you want to come back to later. Our brains tend to be all over the place. Sometimes we can have a really good thought or idea and then *snap* it’s gone. Carry it with you errywhere because who knows when a vision will come to you! The most important part is to revisit all of your amazing ideas and then RUN WITH THEM!
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