Three Convenient Options
As a full-service business management provider specializing in helping freelancers, we strive to empower people with the options that best suit their needs. As you explore the guide, notice we don't take a one-size-fits-all approach- our clients come from various industries with diverse backgrounds and budgets. That is why we provide:
Direct Consulting & Development
Straightforward general expertise in all business areas with affordable, customized packages to meet your needs. We are eager to help you succeed, so be sure to take advantage of your complimentary 15-minute individual consultation.
Guided Self-Service Solutions
We carefully select affordable, trusted, highly-rated service providers that align with our tech & service-first philosophy to help you along your exciting new journey. We believe these affiliates give you the most value for the price.
There are many valuable government and non-profit resources focused on business. Several provide information, templates, and resources for you to conduct research and complete the work. They are the lowest cost but most time-intensive option.
A Blended Approach
Our go-getter clients often find it beneficial to do an initial consultation to get pointed in the right direction, take advantage of the recommended guided self-service options and free DIY resources, leverage our consulting expertise and purchase a customized package.
We DO NOT recommend "free" products from for-profit providers. Discounts and promotions are perfectly fine; many free trials are legit, but not created equally. We're referring to the providers that lure you in with their "free" scaled-down version of their service only to lock down the most needed features, make it difficult to take your data with you, and bombard you with ads. There are too many strings attached that cost you more in the long run as you are nickeled and dimed while losing productivity.
Digital Planning Guide
Building a personal brand & business is some of the most empowering and meaningful work you will do. Please don't leave it to chance and fall into common pitfalls. Set yourself up for success, a competitive advantage, and peace of mind from the very beginning by making wise spending decisions. Click each tab below to learn more and download your free new brand business checklist today.
Real Talk: if you make a purchase from one of our recommended service providers by clicking on any link contained in the guide we may earn a small commission at no expense to you. We can chat more about this as we build out your business & brand.
A straightforward plan, careful name research, and working with an expert to find the most effective business structure ensure a strong foundation to build on for years to come.
Choosing Your Name & Structure
Arguably a business plan should come first, but in reality many freelancers start their journey by using their name with no legal protections. How you formally name and structure your business is the most important, impactful early decision you will make. It impacts your legal liability, taxation, BRAND perception, and more. See our Blog for more helpful branding considerations when choosing a name.
Launch by Legal Shield is the service we highly recommend to help you get started because you get so much for less than the average cost of one hour with an attorney. You are provided with:
- Start-up Consultation- you get advice from a Qualified Business Attorney tailored to your unique needs and goals.
- Business Name Check- they will look for availability and consider advise you of any possible infringement concerns.
- Entity Formation & Tax ID Services- your partner Law Firm completes the necessary paperwork to get your business up and running with the appropriate tax ID.
- Three (3) Months of Ongoing Support- your Law Office remains available to assist you with questions, document review, and more for three months while you get established.
As an alternative, you can check your state business registry website for name availability then do your own reserach. There are also many free resources available to help you learn more about various business structures like the publications on IRS.gov and Score.org. Keep in mind these are for general knowledge and not specific to you. This is one function we don't recommend doing yourself.
Centering Your Plan as a Guiding Framework
You need a business plan that at least covers the basics and serves as a framework for how you will manage several core functions needed to be and stay successful. We cover many key components in this guide, but recommend other resources.
LivePlan is an awesome guided D-I-Y option for business planning, equipped with powerful tools to help measure performance once you are up and running; they ensure the plan remains a living, useful document that continues to guide your strategy. This option also proves most useful when applying for certain grants, loans, and pitching to investors discussed in The Math section .
SBA Lean Start Up Plan is a useful free resource that can help you begin your planning journey with the essentials.
By math, we mean the finance & accounting aspects of your business. Independent Professionals must ensure there is a firewall between their business and personal finances or risk serious trouble down the road. Key financial decisions made early on can make or break your business.
Opening Your Business Checking Account
Your business funds must be kept separate to avoid costly mistakes, but we know you don't have extra money to throw away on fees. Novo is a small business checking account solution designed specifically for solo entrepreneurs. The account is free with no minimum balance, no hidden costs and their debit card can be used at any ATM with 0 fees. That along with several other perks. Novo's platform also provides direct integrations with Quickbooks, Stripe (with Novo Boost to get paid up to 95% faster than a standard checking), and many other popular services with generous parter promotions. We trust our money with Novo, but don't just take our word for it. They are rated 5 stars on Nerd Wallet and are highly regarded by Forbes.
Figuring Out Financing Sources & the Best Mix
A critical part of your planning is determining your ideal financing mix of debt and equity. The four primary ways freelancers start and finance their business are through grants, credit, investment, and cash. The actual attainable mix varies greatly by individual and the ideal mix is determined by industry. The 'best' mix can be a moving target that changes as your business grows, with economic conditions, tax policy changes, etc. As a freelancer, you need not get too in depth with this starting out, but do need to have an initial plan and develop an awareness of industry baselines to work toward as you grow early-on.
Keeping Good Financial Records
You need to make sure you get paid by your customers promplty, account for all deductible expenses to take advantage of tax-savings, pay yourself properly, have a firm grasp on your cash flow, and comply with various tax provisions. You need the right software to make managing these tasks easy so you can focus on other areas of the business.
Clients using the Zoho One Platform (more details in Info Systems tab) the included Books software works great and integrates well with many programs, including the CRM and Project Management solutions.
For clients using other services we recommend Quickbooks as our free-standing product because it integrates well with so many popular platforms with similar features to Zoho Books at a combrable price-point.
Information Systems for a business are primarily made up of hardware, software, data, procedures, and people. We mainly look at the software and data components. Selecting right software helps you seamlessly and securely store data in programs that easily integrate with one another to minimize unnecessary data entry & administrative tasks. See how your software directly impacts core functions of your business.
Establishing an Instant Competitive Advantage
Many independent service providers are tempted to start out with the "free" version of popular software only to find out it is anything but. The most needed features get blocked behind a paywall, you have to manually retype tons of information because core programs don't integrate, you get bombarded with ads that slow you down, and it is difficult to transfer your data to another provider. That is why we recommend the affordable, scalable Zoho Suite of products.
Zoho CRM Plus
Tools you need to provide an outstanding customer experience and increase sales.
Zoho's powerful, customizable CRM is at the heart of this cloud-based suite. It integrates with powerful Campaign, Social, Survey, Sales IQ, Projects, and Analytics tools to create a unified customer experience across all channels. Once set up and customized to your needs, you create a customer-obsessed eco-system that helps you impress prospects and returning customers alike while positioning you as a serious player in your industry.
The secure, integrated, affordable solution to running all aspects of your business.
I highly recommend this software suite as the #1 investment an independent service provider can make to quickly stand out from their competition! For as low as $37/month you get access to an entire suite of products so you can easily manage every function of your business. Streamlined operations provide an outstanding customer experience to drive more sales while you operate with maximum efficiency. Your tools share the relevant data you tell them to between your Books, CRM, Projects, and more to have the most effective Campaigns and outreach.
Zoho Marketing Plus
Programs and features to maximize your outreach across all channels.
Zoho's powerful Marketing Automation tool is at the heart of this robust system. Social, e-mail and SMS campaigns are created and delivered with ease. Advanced analytics, marketing planners, customizable customer journeys, and web behavior tracking are some of the tools that will help you engage prospects and clients alike! Generate, score, quality,
Promoting a brand and business raises your public profile in remarkable ways. Meanwhile, as you build your business and brand, reputation and community standing become much more important. While doing it all, independent consultants often overlook that registering a company creates new public records that are easily accessed online. Depending on the state, this can include name, address, phone number, e-mail, and other demographic information. There are practical, proactive steps we can help you take to help mask much of your public data, but it is still an idea to protect yourself. That is why we recommend ID Shield. It monitors the dark web, social media, and your credit with additional value-add tools to keep sensitive data more secure like a VPN Proxy, Password Manager, and Malware protection.