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10 Ways to Grow From Freelancer to Business Owner

What is one thing you did or learned working as a freelancer that helped you to ultimately start your business?

To help you with making the transition from a freelancer to starting your own business, we asked entrepreneurs and business leaders this question for their best advice. From setting firm criteria upfront to managing your finances, there are several tips that may help you to kickstart your own business for the first time.

Here are ten tips for freelancers looking to start their own business:

  • Work Backwards

  • Rank on the First Page of Google

  • Make Networking a Priority

  • Set Firm Criteria Upfront

  • Lean into Sales

  • Learn About the Grind

  • Manage Your Finances

  • Listen Closely

  • Create Content Around Your Services

  • Take Control of Your Work and Prices

Work Backwards

I have not personally worked as a freelancer, but I have worked with plenty of freelancers in the past. I discovered that a lot of freelancers are highly skilled and have a very good work ethic. This realization made me think that many growing companies in the US can benefit from these kinds of workers: competent but inexpensive. That’s how I got the inspiration for C9 Staff.

Phillip A. Lew, C9 Staff

Rank on the First Page of Google

I was a digital marketing freelancer for four years before starting a digital marketing company. The event that allowed me to grow from freelancer to business owner was getting my website to rank on the first page of Google for the term “digital marketing company.” Once that happened, I started receiving calls from around the world inquiring about my “company” and the services “we” (aka, me and my dog) offered.

After that happened, it was just a matter of taking the mental leap to go from worrying about myself to worrying about running a company. For anyone looking to make the leap from freelancer to business owner, I’d recommend building some reliable and sustainable organic search traffic to keep the flow of customers coming in.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Make Networking a Priority

Before I began my business, I learned that networking was going to be a major part of establishing contacts and building brand awareness. So often, people don’t give enough credit to platforms like LinkedIn, where you can gain contacts that may prove to be beneficial right away or even six months down the road. When you’re taking the step from freelancer to entrepreneur, you can never know too many good people.

Timmy Yanchun, LTHR Shaving

Set Firm Criteria Upfront

When I was working as a freelancer, the clients kept asking for additional revisions. Soon, the additional revisions ate into my profits. My fee per hour kept becoming less and less with each revision I made. I learned I needed a business manager to set firm criteria with clients. This left me free for content creation while my business manager dealt with the clients and negotiated my pricing.

The fee for my freelance services now includes one complimentary revision before the client must pay for more drafts. By setting the stipulations upfront, you save problems down the road. Fortunately, I now have a business manager to deal with the business end of my freelance business. Thanks to my business manager, I no longer feel taken advantage of.

Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging

Lean Into Sales

You can have the greatest product or service, but it won’t sell itself in most cases. It needs to get in the eyes, ears, and mouths of potential buyers from a qualified salesman or saleswoman to make that happen. Initially, I did cold-calling, emails, door-to-door, referral incentives, scheduled follow-ups, and all types of internet marketing to drive sales and brand awareness.

By process of elimination and little trial and error as a freelancer, I generated more qualified leads, sales revenue, and a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for each sales method to help the business grow and new hires sell.

Patrick Menzel, Internal Profits, LLC

Learn About the Grind

Wake up every day and do whatever it takes to earn money, gain clients, make a positive impression on the market, and move forward as a freelancer (and eventually, a business owner). When you have a day job, you focus more on just getting by and fitting in with the company.

As a business owner and freelancer, you tackle each day differently and live and die with the results. As a freelancer, I learned how to grind each and every hour, which I’ve now taken with me as I transition into being a business owner.

Darcy Cudmore, Darcy Allan PR

Manage Your Finances

Being a freelancer can help you learn a lot about how to manage your finances — very quickly. The importance of saving funds for months when your business will historically be slow is a lesson that every freelancer or entrepreneur should learn and carry with them, no matter how exponentially their business may grow. Financial planning has saved numerous companies, while the lack of it has led to countless unique, innovative ideas that never made it off the ground.

Josh Stomel, TurboFinance

Listen Closely

Back when I was coaching financial advisors one-on-one, I heard their objections directly. I could see why their marketing was failing, what they were uncomfortable with, and why they felt they had stopped growing their business.

Since then, I have been able to take that intimate knowledge and replicate it in marketing strategies that are no longer one-on-one, such as webinars, paid ads, social media, and more. I’ve been fortunate enough to successfully help financial advisors because of everything I learned when working with them directly before starting my business.

Create Content Around Your Services

One thing that I did to successfully launch my business was starting a blog and writing about topics that I knew would become a part of my team’s service offering. I started blogging in 2012 and officially launched my business in 2015. This activity helped me get my name “out there” and helped me create content that I could then use to develop client resources.

While I wrote, I got clear on the type of services and resources that I’d offer. Having this content created was a great head-start when I finally left my corporate director role and jumped full steam ahead into entrepreneurship.

Niki Ramirez,

Take Control of Your Work and Prices

When you take control of your work and make sure that you treat the person hiring you as a client and not a boss, that is when you can make a successful living out of freelancing. Initially, I would always ensure that the “boss” was happy and would let them negotiate the amount they wanted to pay.

Over time I realized that a lot of these people would take my high-quality work and pay less than it deserved. I made a pricing list that went up if I was working for a company. This meant that I had fewer clients, but I made more money, and my network grew stronger.

I always crossed my networks from consultancies and content creation to my business and even my work as an author. It’s important to remember that clients can be a good network too, but they will only be that when they see you as an equal.

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