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8 Freelance Startup Entry Plans | Freelance Sprout | Find, Start, and Grow Your Dream Freelance Business
Read the six part series on creating a freelance business plan
 

8 Freelance Startup Entry Plans

Date April 22, 2008


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Many of us (most of us?) had a dream to start a business and, at some point, realized the dilemma of balancing a full-time job with home life and a startup life. I don’t think there’s ever a true balance. A tolerable balance but not a comfortable balance.

Most freelance businesses don’t require a heavy equipment investment. Marketing and living expenses will eat most of a freelancer’s budget.

Unless you have a few months of clients lined up, or you’re independently wealthy, you’ll need a plan to support yourself until you can freelance full-time.

The following are eight freelance entry plans…

1. The Moonlighter

This is the plan that comes to mind most often when people think of starting a business. It involves doing client work in the evenings and on weekends to make way for a full-time job.

Good cell phone service is a must. I have a friend who actually brought his own laptop and wireless air card to work so he could answer client emails during lunch and other breaks. He actually became more productive in his regular job because he stayed at his desk most of the day.

If you have banked vacation or sick days, take a few days off each month to complete larger projects. Being deliberate but flexible with your time off will help you succeed much faster.

2. The Part Timer

This plan is different in that the freelancer takes a part-time job while working the business in the mornings or afternoons.

If you’re super efficient, you might be able to setup an arrangement with your employer to work part-time a few days each week. Once your boss sees that you can still get your work completed without glitches, you might be able to go part-time…full-time.

3. The Employee to Contractor Plan

If you love what you do, but you’d rather do it as a freelancer, you might be able to turn your full-time job into a contracting position—taking your employer as your first customer.

If you’re trying to make a case for saving your employer money, try dropping what I call the “non benefit, benefits”. For instance, my previous, and last, employer had a magnificent profit sharing/retirement plan.

The catch? I had to work a minimum of seven years to receive any actual monetary compensation. Was it a benefit? Yes. Was it something benefiting me at the moment? No. So, it was no love lost on my end. But my employer saw it as a huge money saver in the long run.

4. The Cash Plan

Attention all penny pinchers and budgeteers. If you have the discipline to save all your profits, and look for ways to save within your salary, you can amass a nice cushion to live off when you quit to go full-time.

Once you have the money saved, you can focus on getting a customer backlog a month or two deep. If your business takes off, you won’t feel pressured to stay at your job. Your bank account will give you the confidence to put in your notice.

5. The Spouse Plan

This is a popular option for two income couples, especially if one spouse can produce enough income to cover all monthly expenses.

One way to make this work is to pay off all consumer debt (credit cards) and car loans. When one debt is paid off, rollover the payment to the next debt. With each card, or car, paid off, you get an instant raise.

When the first spouse’s business starts going strong, the other spouse has the option to quit and start a business too.

6. The Temp Plan

Using local temporary employment agencies is another avenue to working while building your business.

This type of arrangement could be a catch-22 if the temp work becomes full-time for a long period. Most temporary agencies will give you enough flexibility to work on freelance stuff.

The other benefit is that you can quit anytime. Since you won’t be attached to any single employer, you’ll be ready to bail at a moment’s notice.

7. The Client Financing Plan

If you have a lot of contacts, you can approach companies to obtain retainer contracts. For a discount of up to 25 percent, you’ll offer your services in exchange for guaranteed income.

You’ll have to be willing to work under an agreement for a year. Once the year is up, you can choose to raise your rates or move on to other clients (you were marketing over the course of the year, right?).

8. The Outsourcing Plan

I was on the moonlighting plan and this plan. When I first started, cost was the biggest issue. Ok, it was the only issue.

I don’t recommend taking yourself out of the picture completely. Your reputation is the only thing you have. It’s much better to take on fewer clients and do good work than to take on too many clients and deliver junk.

Don’t be surprised if it takes a dozen tries to find the right people. I’m lucky to have found several ladies that do outstanding work and are affordable too.

I don’t know too much about programming, but I do know that you get what you pay for when it comes to writing. Keep searching for higher quality people as your budget allows.

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Related posts:

  1. Before you Quit your Job - How to Determine your Replacement Income
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  3. How to Live with Freelance Success

7 Responses to “8 Freelance Startup Entry Plans”

  1. The Writing / Editing Job Roll » 04/24/2008 Writing Jobs and Links said:

    […] 8 Freelance Startup Entry Plans […]

  2. bloggista said:

    I have been into Freelance Consulting for more than 5 years now. I have single proprietorship company that I used to engage with clients and other resources. But now I am going to make a big leap - and starting a corporation in the coming weeks. Hoping for the best. :-)

  3. Lisa said:

    Excellent advice. It’s not easy to make your way into freelancing or telecommuting. It actually takes work and a plan. I did #1 for a year and then #5 for about the next year. But even though I wasn’t making what I’d been making at the job I left, we didn’t feel the crunch nearly as much as we thought we would. Turns out the money it was COSTING me to have the job in the first place was much higher than we originally thought. Any single one (or combo) of the 8 would work but you definitely have to have a plan!

  4. 31 Link Love Articles this Week | Writer's Resource Center said:

    […] 8 Freelance Startup Entry Plans […]

  5. Naomi Dunford said:

    We went with the Dive Right In And Hope For The Best Plan, but I had temping I could do if I needed to, and my husband could’ve gone back to work at any time if we needed it. We were lucky in that we didn’t need it — looks like we found a pretty good niche at a pretty good time — but it worked for us.

    I think there’s a breed of person who doesn’t work well when serving two masters, and I’m one of them. It drove my husband insane that I wasn’t able to just try it part-time first, or do it at night, or whatever, but it would’ve made me crazy to be spending all that time at work and not on the biz.

    Not for the faint of heart, but it’s an option.

  6. Jerret said:

    Thanks all for your comments!

    Great experiences from all, I can tell. I didn’t have the nerve to jump ship although I think I would have been fine.

    -Jerret

  7. 04/27/2008 Freelance Bulletin — ¤ The Freelance Hub ¤ said:

    […] 8 Freelance Startup Entry Plans […]

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