This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.
Freelancers focus a lot of effort on attracting great clients. (After all, that’s where paychecks come from!) But it’s also worth taking time to develop non-client relationships like these:
A good accountant doesn’t just work for you at tax time. They’ll consult with you several times a year to make sure you’re setting aside enough for taxes, keeping good books, and preventing expensive surprises. That’s especially important now as congress debates major changes to the tax code. Look for someone who has experience working with freelancers and other self-employed professionals.
In a financial system accustomed to people with regular paychecks, a banker you trust can be a valuable asset. They can help you strike the right balance between account fees and features, or streamline the process of getting a loan or credit line.
Start by choosing a bank that plays well with small companies. One clue is the minimum balance for a business account. A bank that requires $300 will probably be more freelance-friendly than one that wants you to lock up $1,500.
While basic troubleshooting skills are useful, your primary focus is creative work. So whatever tech your business relies on — web sites, cameras, computers, mobile devices — find someone who knows what to do when they misbehave. A quick text message to a Mac tech buddy has saved me more than one deadline.
We all hope we’ll never need an attorney, but it’s best to have an established relationship if you do. Your attorney can help you set up your business, advise you on contracts, and back you up if deadbeat clients don’t pay on time. And while it’s assumed your lawyer will defend you in the unhappy event you get sued, a good one will give you proactive advice about avoiding lawsuits in the first place.
An insurance broker differs from an insurance agent by offering plans from multiple sources. Since they’re not tied to a single company, a broker can help you shop around to get the best deal. Freelancers Union’s Handpicked Plans for Freelancers page is a good place to start.
A coach’s objective perspective and experience can help you grow your business at any stage of your career. This can be game-changing when you or your business feel stuck. Look for a coach who is willing to take you to a certain level and then let go until you’re ready for more.
Members of your “tribe” with complementary skills can help expand what you’re able to offer. For example, it’s helpful for writers to know designers and vice versa. People with similar skills are also a useful “steam valve” when you get busy or if a client needs a specialty you don’t offer. Get out to events where freelancers congregate on a regular basis to meet potential collaborators.
Tom N. Tumbusch writes copy that creates action for creative professionals and green businesses. He is the author of the free eBook The Writer/Designer Dream Team and the WordStream of Consciousness blog. His tiny solar-powered corner of the Internet can be found at: wordstreamcopy.com.