If you want to move to the country, it helps to take a business with you; something to pay the mortgage while you’re acclimating. This is why the Catskills is bustling with artists, freelancers and business owners. It’s a tourist haven for the arts, products, hospitality, sports and crafts. In three very difficult and monumentally life-changing steps, here’s how it’s done:
- Start side business.
- Quit full-time job to focus on side business.
- Move to country.
Upstate Dispatch’s mission is to help you conquer these three steps, starting with the side business. Here are four essential tips for the young businessperson starting out and the fledgling freelancer.
Pay quarterly estimated taxes. Your employer used to withhold taxes from your periodic salary payments. You are now responsible for paying your taxes instead of your employer with the added bonus that you are now responsible for all of your social security and medicare contributions; as a W2 employee your employer paid half of your social security and medicare contributions. You need to pay quarterly estimated taxes based on your income less your business expenses.
Record keeping: keep all your receipts for business expenditure and copies of your invoices. You cannot possibly underestimate the importance of a comprehensive filing system both on your computer and in your filing cabinet. If you can remove all the time it takes hunting down paperwork or files in response to a client email, this will keep you racing miles ahead of your competitors.
Get business cards. You’re a true freelancer in the eyes of the Department of Labor if you are free to advertise your services to anyone (and also if you are the director of any projects you choose to take on and if you decide the schedule for the performance of the services). Get a website, put up ads and hand out your business card to everyone. This will distinguish you from an employee in the eyes of the law. You should also consider starting up a business entity like an LLC or Corp in the future when you begin to make decent income.
Clients: the most important hurdle to cross when turning freelance is finding clients. Advertising and networking have never been easier now we have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networking websites and groups but word of mouth is how most freelancers get their gigs.
Word of mouth also offers you some protection against unethical or roguish clients. If you and your client have mutual business contacts, that client is less likely to engage in bad behavior than if he found you on Craigs List. Try to develop a community of clients who know and care about each other. Trying to avoid the scoundrels and badly-paying, unscrupulous customers is par for the course.