Grow Your Independent Business When You’re Broke

January 14, 2019 5:25 pm

As of the latest stats from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were almost 5 million self-employed workers in the UK in 2017 – 4.8 million. The trend for independent employment has been on the rise and has dramatically increased over the past 20 years. Nowadays, self-employed and freelancing individuals account for around 15% of the working population.

For independent professionals, however, keeping their freelancing business afloat can be challenging. Indeed, there is very little support available to grow your independent business. For the majority of self-employed workers, professional freedom is synonymous with money matters and struggles. The only strategy to financial stability is to create business growth. But how do you grow an independent, small business when you can barely make ends meet?


Pay attention to mistakes that hurt your reputation

As an independent professional, you need to take your reputation seriously. When you work for yourself, your audience can’t dissociate the person from the professional expert. Consequently, it’s a good idea to use separate social media accounts, depending on whether you’re sharing family photos or work-related news. Your professional audience is likely to judge the quality of your services based on what you choose to share. Needless to say, the photos of the latest family party might not go down very well with your clients.

Additionally, business errors can also affect your reputation, even though they have no impact on the service you deliver. For instance, unappealing marketing campaigns can give the wrong impression about your professional qualities. Unfortunately, for independent workers, the marketing budget tends to be limited, which leads to low-quality advertising. The bottom line is to pay attention to what you let others see about your business.

Get the equipment you need

You can’t expect to grow your activities if you don’t invest in the appropriate equipment, whether it is a new laptop or a vehicle. However, where established LTD companies can apply for a commercial loan or look out for leasing options in their sectors, freelancers fail to attract lenders. The main reason for this problem is that independent professionals don’t always separate their work finances from their business budget – many use only one bank account. As a result, their personal credit history is used as a background check for the loan, which can affect their eligibility. There are, thankfully, other solutions when you can’t apply for a commercial loan. For their equipment needs, freelancers can look into the possibility of guarantor loans for a new car or digital technologies. Financing the equipment you need provides a platform for growth, meaning that it could be a strategic investment that boosts your income.

Does your independent business need a vehicle?

Are you focusing on the wrong clients?

In the freelancing world, every client is depicted as a precious and holy entity. When you have a small list of clients, it’s easy to believe that you can’t afford to lose any of them. Consequently, many independent professionals choose to put up with bad clients for fear of financial repercussions. In reality, keeping a client from hell – as freelancers often call them – is a waste of time and money. Why so? Because you’re wasting your efforts trying to cope with unnecessary hassle instead of working on positive and productive projects. If you want to grow your business, you need to get rid of obstacles, and that includes firing your bad clients. Independent professionals need to learn to terminate difficult relationships in a way that will cast no blame on each other. It’s also a good idea to recommend a better-fitted contractor for their needs as a way of maintaining your professional reputation.

You don’t have to go through it alone

Being independent means that you are not the employee of a company. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t set up your own company. Converting your home-based business into an LTD can open the door to financial, professional and personal growth potential. More importantly, you can benefit from a network of dedicated company support, from your local business meetups to the chamber of commerce of your county. Last but not least, you’ll find that professional partners and investors are more likely to be interested in your ideas if you represent an LTD, LLP or even a UNLTD. Joining professional networks and attending industry events remain the easiest method of finding a partner.

Prioritise your tasks

The typical office day starts with a coffee and a catch up with your colleagues. Things that can’t be finished at the end of the day are piled up on top of your list for the next day, or delegating to junior co-workers. In the freelancing world, however, you don’t have the luxury of wasting time on your tasks. Things not only need to be finished on time whenever possible but you can’t afford to socialise during working hours. In other words, freelancing is not about taking back control of your work/life balance but about losing it completely! Being organised and mastering time management hacks are crucial in creating business growth. The first mistake of overwhelmed freelancers is to forget to prioritise their workload. Use an online calendar to track deadlines and to-dos aside your appointments. Post-it notes accumulating on your desk need to be turned into calendar notifications to keep you focused on what needs to be done.

Do you even have a strategy?

Where do you see your business in 12 months?

Freelancers tend to shrug off the question, claiming it’s only a concern for entrepreneurs. In reality, every business, whether independent or not, needs to make a strategic plan for the activities and the objectives of the year – or years – to come. In the case of independent professionals, the strategy is likely to focus only on the next 12 months. However, it is designed to shape the direction of your growth, identify the trends in your sector, and ensure that you’ve got the proper resources to meet your goals. Without a strategy, your freelancing career is like a captainless ship on the sea.

Despite representing 15% of the working population, independent professionals often face business challenges alone. Growing your freelancing business takes effort, strategy, investment, and dedication. But making it work is vital to achieving financial stability.

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