You have a skill, and you want work on your own.
Freelancing is an incredible adventure, filled with hard work and the ultimate job satisfaction. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than building a business on your own, but it can be hard to get started. You may be wondering who your customers will be, if there’s a market for your skills, and how you’ll venture out on your own.
This is where a solid business plan can really help.
Freelancers who follow business plans are far more likely to succeed. A plan guides you and helps set initial priorities. Plus, it can keep you focused and accountable to your goals. When you create a business plan, you’ll also learn about your market, competitors, and how to position your services.
Sound like a lot of work? Don’t worry. You don’t need an MBA or years of experience to create a business plan. Just roll up your sleeves and download this free template. Simply Business’s download outlines key areas to plan and helps you ask important questions.
Then read on - you’ll be well on your way to creating a business plan that makes any MBA proud.
As a freelancer, you own a company. Sure, you’re a team of one, but you need to think like a CEO. As you write your freelance business plan, consider:
How you’d like to contribute to the world. Why do you want to be self-employed? What reason does your freelance business exist? Do you have a business philosophy? Answering these questions will help you write a solid mission statement.
The unique solution you offer customers. If you're a freelance writer or designer, do you have a particular style? Do you have experience working in certain industries? What market problem do you solve? For example, maybe you’re a writer who simplifies medical jargon or a photographer who captures peaceful newborn photos.
To be successful, you need to earn revenue. Plain and simple. Before starting your business, plan how much money you need to earn and how you’ll get new customers. Remember, this can be early ideas, but they serve as a starting point for later.
Here are some questions to help.
Marketing and sales
I know it may seem like a lot to consider, but the more you plan now, the easier it will be later.
You know your trade, but have you defined all of the services you’ll offer? Hone in on skills you know you can easily offer customers. In general, these are areas in which you already have experience.
If you’re a freelance web developer or programmer, write down the languages you most often code. If you’re a designer, consider if you’ll focus on web design, graphic design, or both. If you’re a photographer, ask yourself what type of work you do best. For example, do you prefer wedding photography or family photos?
Next, ask yourself why you chose these particular services. Write down details about your experience, education, knowledge, and passion for each area. These details will help you market yourself to customers in the future.
To become a successful freelancer, you need to know your ideal customer. Find out everything you can, including their industry, age, location, and attitude toward hiring freelancers. To learn as much as possible:
Ask questions that help you understand the demand for your skill, market saturation, and how much customers are willing to pay. Remember, depending on what you do, you may be able to work with customers internationally too. Virtual meetings and phone calls make it easy for graphic designers, writers, and other freelancers to work with people who live far away.
Wondering who you’re up against? You need to know as much as possible about your competitors. Once you do, you can offer better prices and quality, or newer services.
Look at other freelancers in your area first, and then think outside-the-box. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you may compete with advertising agencies or large content farms. Any alternative to hiring you, including writing content in-house, is a competitor.
As you investigate other businesses, try to understand their:
The more you know, the better. It’ll help you gain a competitive edge.
I know, this seems like a lot to plan, and you may be wondering if you really need a business plan or if you can just kick things off. The truth is, you can start your business now, but if you don’t have a solid plan, you may face hurdles that could have been prevented.
But if you’ve done the upfront work, you can be more confident knowing you’re targeting the right customers, hitting realistic goals, and offering competitive services. The best part? It doesn’t take much time to write a solid business plan, especially if you already have a business plan template in hand.
Remember, don’t delay. If you’re ready to start a freelance business now, start things off on the right foot. The faster you create your business plan, the sooner you’ll see success.
I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.
Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.
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