5 Steps That Can Elevate You From a Freelancer to an Entrepreneur
Becoming an entrepreneur while keeping the advantages of a freelancer
Gone are the days when the first choice of preference was to acquire a 'decent' job, in today's world aspiration is to work for oneself. A quick search on Wikipedia will tell us that if a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term is called a freelancer. But if a person is independent isn't he/she also an entrepreneur?
Let us talk about what it takes (in five steps) to elevate oneself from a freelancer to an entrepreneur.
However, it is important to suggest that beyond the perception that potential customers will carry on hearing you were a freelancer v/s an entrepreneur, the critical differentiator is the ability to scale.
You can scale organically (growth fuelled by acquiring more customers) or inorganically (growth powered by increasing productivity). An entrepreneur typically exhibits both these qualities (unlike a freelancer). Adapting the following notions can allow this elevation.
Personify the Online Presence - You should for sure have social media presence (e.g. Facebook page, Instagram business account, Twitter handler, etc.) but the relevance of an official website and email address is still essential. The site helps in conveying the vision and mission of the work plus helps in showcasing testimonials, offerings and ways to get connected. You should have an email with the same domain name as that of the website (and not something like Gmail or Yahoo or Hotmail). Digital presence is super essential irrespective to the nature of the job.
Have Virtual or Physical Appearance - Apart from the online presence, it is vital to have physical or a virtual address where the correspondence can happen. It is not to mandatory have this from day one, but as the business grows, it becomes essential. You can opt for shared workspace, virtual or on-demand meeting rooms. Online (audio and video) conferences play an important role, and you should not be hesitant in spending some bucks in buying a virtual meeting space.
Automate - As work increases, repetitive tasks will also increase. Look out for opportunities on how to automate tasks such as sending newsletters, payment reminders, invoices, greetings or necessary updates. Leverage good CRM, Invoicing & accounting systems, appointment management and contact management. Automation will not only help to improve productivity but will also help in bringing a lot of regularity in repetitive tasks and give you a professional outlook.
Secure Storage - As your work increases, the digital footprint also increases. Depending upon the nature of your work, assets such as Documents, Excel, PowerPoint Presentations, PSD, CAD, etc. will grow and become the centre of the action. Any misadventure with these files on your local laptop/desktop can prove extremely damaging (to revenue and image). Therefore, you should secure important assets and make sure you have a backup. Thus, beyond storing them on local disks make sure you have storage space on the cloud making your assets immutable and always available.
Register Your Company - Although this is the 5th point in the list, it's one of the most crucial steps. You should have the name of the organisation register using the most straightforward option under the proprietary company register act. You have to fill an online application and get shop-act done in the name of the company. It not only makes your company an official entity but also allows you to accept payment (online or cheque or NEFT) under the name of the company (and not under your name). It also enables you to claim all tax benefits that a company is entitled to (e.g. travel, stationery, electricity, phone bills). Having a legal entity gives a forward-looking impression to the customer.
Amber Marfatia is cartoonist and founder of Toonstory.in (a popular destination for many cartoon & comic strip lovers), author of a book & many papers and Principal Software Architect at an MNC. He brings around two decades of experience in the information technology industry and has been an integral part of the digital transformation the industry is going through.
Amber has currently engaged in many enterprise-scale IT modernisation projects which involve Conversational AI and Machine Learning to help the products scale. He has a deep understanding of software development and architecture.
The flavour of being a cartoonist alongside being a technologist has helped him to see the world with a lens. He being an entrepreneur, artist and an IT professional provides a unique blend of exposure and outlook to his views and writings.
Amber a TOGAF certified professional is a physics graduate and a computer science post graduate from Surat, Gujarat.