There’s a fine line between freelancing and running a small business. For one, a freelance professional almost always works on projects by himself, relying on his own resources, skills and marketing abilities to keep the business running forward and servicing clients’ needs. During times when orders pile up, though, you might find it difficult to keep on servicing clients yourself. You sometimes pass on projects to friends and fellow professionals. Before you know it, you’ve hired extra hands to keep things running smoothly. You’ve effectively expanded your freelancing profession into a small business.
Most freelancers’ work habits lean toward a preference for less work rather than more work. This might make sense to a professional who values his time and creativity. Therefore, freelancers could be focusing on a few select clients, in order for quality to be kept at par with his and the clients’ expectations. But for a small business, more clients means more money. If you feel you are ready to expand, then you would have to either make some changes in your working habits, or your work setup.
Outsource some of the work. An increasing trend in online work these days is outsourcing. If you are in the business of designing websites, then perhaps you can partner with programmers and coders who can convert your raw PSD layouts into CSS-based themes for popular content management systems like WordPress. If your main line of work involves writing, then perhaps you can subcontract some work to able writers, and then just edit and proofread their work. Or maybe you hate to do administrative tasks like client support, scheduling and other such things that can be tedious to the creative professional. You can outsource these activities to a virtual assistant.
Partner with fellow professionals. There are a handful of freelance professionals out there who might not be as good with marketing their service as you. One mutually beneficial thing you can do is share the load–and the monetary benefits–with them. For instance, I’m not a designer myself. My forte is in developing and marketing blogs and web applications. Knowing this limitation, I have partnered with several colleagues whom I pass on design work to. We split the load. Clients are happy. My designer friends are happy. I’m happy, with the thought that I don’t have to force myself to do work I’m not an expert at.
Some freelancers are perhaps allergic to the idea of turning their profession into a small business. For some, the concept of having to invest time, money and effort into a startup might be disheartening. To some, it’s the idea of sharing the benefits with other people that might lead to reservations. But before you turn down the idea altogether, try to think of the benefits. Try to think of how you can reap the rewards. Sure, a startup might be more difficult to manage than a simple freelancing gig. But it’s potentially more rewarding.