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For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

How to become a freelancer

There are many reasons for becoming self-employed and working as a freelancer. From earning extra income to fulfilling a passion project, freelancing affords you the freedom to work on your own terms. If you're considering a future in freelancing, kick-start your career by reading our guide to freelancing below.

Take a one-off freelance gig

Until you delve into the world of freelancing, you won't know if it's the right fit for you. Your first step should be to take your first freelance job. Whether it's designing a new website or translating copy into French, you should try freelancing out first with a one-off gig.

Approaching freelancing this way will help you decide if you enjoy this way of working and whether you wish to pursue it further. A one-off project will also introduce you to tasks you may not be used to in your usual day-to-day role, including:

Find a mentor

Developing a professional relationship with an experienced freelancer means you can benefit from first-hand expertise on the world of freelancing. While most blogs offer generic advice, a mentor can give you real insights into your specific circumstances.

Let's say you're an illustrator and a single parent; a good mentor can give you the best advice based on your specific situation. From teaching you to get paid what you're worth and working smarter, to finding the perfect work-life balance, getting a mentor could be the key to building a successful freelance career.

You can find mentors in your network, at freelancer meetups and on tailored mentorship programs like mentorsme and enterprising women.

Freelance while working full time

With your first freelancing experience under your belt, it could be time to up the ante. It could mean you're juggling several freelance gigs alongside your full-time job.

Depending on the industry you're in, the availability of freelance jobs can be impossible to predict, especially if you're new to the field. Freelancing while working full time can give you real insights into working freelance, including salary expectations and seasonal demand in your industry.

Another reason to 'try before you leap' is the safety net of a monthly income.

While freelancing sounds excellent, you don't want to leave your job only to find out that freelance gigs in your industry are few and far between.

Freelancer equipment

Working freelance often means you can set up shop from wherever you want. That could be your kitchen table, favourite coffee shop, a library, to a sunny beach resort. That said, there's some essential equipment you'll need to freelance effectively. You should have:

  • A comfortable desk and chair - good quality furniture is a top priority for working effectively.
  • Reliable broadband - stay connected to the web and your clients.
  • A 'MiFi' portal - a mobile WiFi hub is essential for working outdoors. You can also tether your laptop connection to your smartphone if you have a large enough data allowance.
  • A free video conferencing app - speak to collaborators and share your screen with clients using one of the free video calling apps.
  • An extra monitor - from coders to proof-readers, work more efficiently by using an additional screen.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones - a must for important meetings, pitches, and those times when you need to focus without distractions.
  • A battery pack - never miss a deadline or update by running out of battery charge.

Build your freelancer network

As you become more established as a freelancer, there's more you can do in between projects.

First of all, you'll want a place to showcase your work to potential clients. Thanks to the wide range of website builders on the market, you don't need to spend a great deal or have coding skills to do this. Platforms like Squaresquare and Cargo offer affordable portfolio templates for everyone, from photographers to writers.

Secondly, you should let people know you're seeking work. Joining and participating in freelancer networks on Facebook and Twitter is a great way of building contacts and getting work. Try to find specific groups that might need your service. If you're a Polish-speaking psychotherapist in the UK, for instance, then Polish expat community groups are a great place to start.

Next, you may want to join freelancer platforms. Although some charge freelancers and businesses to join, platforms like Upwork and Fiverr can help you get freelance gigs locally and further afield.

Having a prominent presence online is your way of casting a wider net and telling companies you're available for projects. You can also network with or outsource to an international freelance by searching online. And with more payment options available than ever before, you may find it quicker and cheaper to pay an overseas freelancer to do some of your work for you.

Do freelancers pay tax?

Yes, and unlike full-time employment, you'll be responsible for completing your own tax forms, including an annual self assessment tax return. Your first step in paying your taxes is to register with HMRC as a sole trader or limited company.

Most freelancers register themselves as sole traders as they are self-employed and the sole owner of their business. However, you could register a limited company with Companies House.

Depending on the nature of your work, one legal form may be more suitable for you than the other. For more details on sole traders and limited companies and which is right for you, visit the GOV.UK website for information about working for yourself and registering your company.

Become a full-time freelancer

A successful freelance career can take years to forge. That's because you'll need time to earn a reputation for consistently meeting deadlines and delivering top-quality work.

Once you have a steady stream of work coming in, it might be time to pluck up your courage, leave behind the nine-to-five and become a full-time freelancer.

While you'll have your own preferences, the table below shows some of the differences you'll need to consider when comparing freelance and permanent jobs.

Employed

Freelance

Job security

No real job security

Office environment and hours

Freedom to work anywhere

Daily commuting

Little to no commuting

Lots of socialising and networking

Can be isolating

Easier to predict earnings

Impossible to predict income 

Workplace benefits like gym discounts, free coffee and cycle to work schemes

No real job-related benefits

Paid holidays and statutory sick pay

No paid holidays

Fixed salaries

Unlimited earning potential

State pensions for the self-employed

Working freelance also means you'll be responsible for making contributions to your pension. Most self-employed people and freelancers use personal pension providers like Legal and General, PensionBee and AJ Bell for their savings.

With a personal pension, you choose where you want your contributions to be invested from a range of funds offered by the provider. The provider will claim tax relief at the basic rate of tax on your behalf and add it to your pension savings.

Copyright 2021. Article made possible by site supporter Azimo.

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