With more people turning to freelance jobs — freelance writing jobs, freelance design jobs, freelance work of all kinds — in the aftermath of the economic crisis, it’s helpful to have some solid advice on the topic of how to start a business.
How do you write a business plan? How much should you change for freelance writing? How does one go about finding freelance graphic design clients? Which marketing strategies work best? How do you make a sales presentation, or write a proposal? What do you do if a client does not pay?
When I decided to start my business as a freelance web designer back in 1996, I was guided entirely by serendipity. Someone liked a website I maintained as a hobby, and that led to paid work. Pretty soon, I was managing a nice little collection of accounts.
That was great then, but in redoubling my free lance activities over the past year, I knew it would be important to strengthen my operation in terms of basic small business planning, marketing, and financial practices. Serendipity works even better when it’s supported by a solid foundation.
The best how-to guide I have found on doing business is The Business Side of Creativity, by Cameron S. Foote.
Foote is the founder and editor of Creative Business, which offers newsletters, advice, and support to creative services organizations. He has thirty years of industry experience himself, as well as the collected wisdom of his thousands of subscribers to drawn on. The book — currently in its third updated edition — has been regarded as the bible of creative business for over ten years.
The Business Side of Creativity is a textbook and a road map charting every aspect of running your own freelance business, from the decision to strike out on your own to pricing, collection, taxation, selling and marketing — from starting a home business to operating a multiperson shop and managing employees. It includes point-by-point lists, plus appendices of sample business plans, as well as sample forms and agreements.
Through it all, the tone is absolutely sober and professional. Foote carefully notes the many hazards and pitfalls of self-employment, while also illuminating the rewards that are attainable for the freelancer who is up to the adventure. He shows exactly how to “do the math” that determines whether your time is being spent profitably.
If you’re starting a business, this is the sort of book you should read with a highlighter in hand — a book to keep on a nearby shelf for reference, because you’ll want to return to it again and again for advice on a wide variety of situations.
Cameron S. Foote is also the author of The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business.