How to Move from Freelancer to Small Business Owner

Meet Ronald. 

Ronald does amazing graphic designs for his clients. He works from home or wherever he finds himself, mostly delivers on time, and earns a decent living as a freelance graphic designer.

However, he has recently hit a wall that many freelancers encounter: he has run out of time. He now has too many jobs and too little time. He is becoming unable to meet up with delivery timelines and the quality of work is dropping as a result. 

On top of that, he spends a good portion of his day attending to administrative tasks like sending out invoices, negotiating proposals, and paying bills. He knows he must do these things, but he also knows that they don’t earn money.

Ronald has found himself in a situation that many freelancers find themselves in: trading time for money.

He must act fast to keep to keep his clients happy and earn more while doing it. He must expand.

Only BUSINESS EXPANSION can keep Ronald in business.

Ronald needs to transition from being a freelancer to being a small business owner.

What’s the difference between a freelancer and a business owner?

A freelancer primarily views himself or herself as a source of labor; a business owner views himself or herself as a source of value. Understanding the difference would prove essential if you want to grow beyond a freelancer.

Think of it this way. Providing labor (e.g., exchanging time for money) is only one option for delivering value to clients and customers. 

If you work as a freelancer, you still spend time selling your services. You even put together invoices and send them out.

Let’s say you’re a freelance graphic designer.

You want to spend your days designing — but a lot of your time goes towards running the business. Most days involve emailing clients, sending invoices, selling your services, paying bills.

None of these things involve designing, but they all involve running a graphic design business.

How to move from freelancer to business owner

Moving from freelancer to business owner proceeds as an interactive process. It does not happen in one day, a month, or ever. It’s a continual progression from one to another. 

But here are the basics:

Create systems and processes.

If we have to reinvent the wheel each time, we slow down.

For any aspect of your business, begin to develop a standardized process for doing that thing. Ideally, it should be simple enough for you to delegate to someone else, should you choose.

By creating repeatable systems and processes, we save time, brainpower, and money that we can divert to things that serve our customers and us better.

Delegate, delegate, delegate (and automate).

You shouldn’t try to do everything in your business.

Outsource to other freelancers. Build a network of your own freelancers.

If you try to do everything in your business, you spend a great deal of time doing things you don’t like — and doing a mediocre job at it.

Identify that thing that you do best (for instance, Ronald designs). After you identify that thing, find a way to delegate or automate everything else away.

Many services exist to help you with this. We have virtual receptionist services that answer your phone. Virtual assistants help us with a variety of other tasks that we don’t want to do.

And if something is simple enough, you can use a system to automate it. You could use an app that lets your clients schedule their appointments or a system that sends out confirmation emails and a few different follow-ups after clients purchase your service online. No human needs to be bothered, and everyone can do what they do best.

Turn your services into products

Once you have gotten the hang of creating systems, delegating, and automating, you can explore the frontier of turning your services into products.

Imagine again that you’re a graphic  designer. If you currently provide bespoke graphic design services to clients, you might find a way to develop a product based on that service.

For instance, one of our clients created a flat-fee service that clients can use to order a logo, letterhead, business cards, ID cards etc. Customers pay a set price and use an online form to explain the project. The form also collects payment and requires the customer to agree to terms. The system notifies our client about the new work, and our clients begin work, without having to do much else.

That example might be a little bit idealized or simplified, but not by much.

Get expert advice.

Here’s where a lot of people get it wrong when moving from freelancer to business owner.

Instead of hiring an expert, they try to become an expert. Taking this approach leaves them feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with the experience of running a business.

We have seen too many people wasting time and money on things that they don’t have to because they avoided retaining expert services.

Most freelancers and prospective business owners like yourself are in need of an answer to a legal question or a solution to a legal problem. 

Common Legal Questions 

Should I register a business name or incorporate a limited liability company?

How much tax do I need to pay for my small business?

How do I get a license/permit for my business?

How do I recover unpaid invoices? 

Getting experts involved as soon as possible can accelerate your growth. Since we don’t have the time to become experts in everything, it helps to rely on outside guidance and our on demand lawyers at affordablelaw.ng are already helping numerous small businesses start, protect and scale.

Taking the first step

If you are starting a business, looking to expand or scale an existing business, the first step to take is to get a lawyer on your team to help you protect your idea and avoid costly legal mistakes. Visit affordablelaw.ng to learn more. 

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