When you are a graduate entering the world of work for the first time, it can be a confusing and daunting prospect. Today, there is far more choice than ever before because the digital age has opened up a whole new set of opportunities that simply didn’t exist in the past. A perfect example of this is the way that the freelance sector has blossomed and continues to grow, particularly in the UK. Many workers are realising the benefits that flexible working can bring in terms of a work/life balance and also financial rewards. Of course, some people may also be driven to thinking about taking up a freelance work position as much through circumstances and necessity as they are by desire, but whatever the reasons, there are some basic tricks of the self-employed trade that everyone needs to know.
There’s an old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket, and when it comes to the modern job market, this can be an important thing to bear in mind. In years gone by, some professions and industries offered a realistic prospect of a “job for life” for those who wanted one, but today’s economic volatility and global trading conditions mean that even the safest occupations from the past are as vulnerable to change as any other.
This could be one reason why modern employment markets are seeing a move towards a so-called “gig economy”, particularly among younger workers. Although many observers used to the old ways of doing things could be forgiven for thinking that this meant there is a lack of stability, others see it as a sign of a more flexible and free-thinking work environment more suited to the internet age.
The internet has completely changed the freelance marketplace over the last decade, and being self-employed on a contractor basis today is very different because of this. Even the basic first step of choosing a name to work under, either as a business or a sole trader, has to take into account how it will look as a website and email address. When choosing a name for your small business, it is important to make sure that it looks professional and is totally inoffensive, or else you will not only put off potential customers and clients but you might also have difficulty registering it as a domain name. Do some research online to make sure your trading name is as unique as it can be so as not to cause confusion.
Branding and logos are very important for any kind of marketing, but especially so for online. It is important to have a visual identity not only for internet use but also for more traditional things such as letterheads, business cards and comp slips. Thankfully, it needn’t cost much to come up with something that looks professional using your own design software or widely available online tools.
Having a business bank account is an essential thing to set up right from the start. Not only does it make things easier for accounting procedures by keeping your personal finances separate from your businesses ones, but it can also be a good way to access additional finance when you might need it.
Taking care of business
For a graduate taking your first steps into the world of freelancing, the accounting and bookkeeping side of running a business can be off-putting. Even the details of how you actually get paid fairly for your work can be something of a dark art to the uninitiated.
Thankfully, this is yet another area where the internet can come to the rescue and simplify everything for you. Using a service such as Invoice Home can take the effort out of making sure you are set up for proper invoicing that covers all the bases and gives you a fully professional appearance.
For many graduates, one of the main attractions to becoming a freelance is the amount of flexibility it can offer. Going from full-time education into a strictly controlled work environment can be something of a culture shock. By keeping control of your career, you can dictate your own terms and organise your time in the way that most suits you. In a global economy that increasingly works beyond geographical borders or international time constraints, taking this approach can literally open up a world of possibility that previous generations simply were not able to access.