Post
Ashley PoynterAug 275 min read

Becoming self-employed: how to make a smooth transition

Updated: Sep 1

So you’ve decided you want to work for yourself? Congrats! It’s a big step to become self-employed and there is a lot to think about. The good news is that we’ve done some of that thinking for you and put together some tips and tricks to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Find your sweet spot

First things first: decide exactly what you want to do. The more specific you can be, the greater the chances for success. For example, if you’re a writer looking to dive into the wild world of freelancing, decide what kind of writer you want to be. Perhaps you’ve excelled at writing for a specific industry. Maybe you’re really great at writing self-help articles. Find a niche that you rock at and use that as a starting point.

Being specific can help you market to the right audience. Consider what types of products or services you will offer within your industry or niche. For example, will you offer articles at a per word or flat rate? Will you offer services to help people or businesses build out a content calendar? Will you offer editing and proofreading services? These are the types of details you’ll want to nail down as you begin to build out your business idea.

Know who you’re selling to

Once you have a specific idea about what you’re offering in place, you need to figure out who you’ll be offering it to. Which people or businesses will be served by your product or service? This is another place where you need to be very specific. The more you can hone in on your ideal client, the better you’ll be able to target those people in your marketing and advertising.

It’s tempting to think that hanging your own shingle will result in a flood of new business, but the truth is that you need to show people why they need you. Actually, you need to show the right people that they need you. Think in terms of demographics, interests, location, budget, and industry to start. Are you offering resume review services? Maybe your target market is stay-at-home moms looking to rejoin the workforce. That’s a good starting point, but you’ll want to dig deeper. What is important to this segment? Are they looking for work/home life balance? Are they looking to break into or rejoin a particular industry? Knowing the answers to these questions can ensure that your marketing message is on point and effective.

Set SMART goals

You probably know that setting goals is important, but setting the right kind of goals is even more important. Being self-employed takes a considerable amount of effort and you want to make sure that your time is paying off. SMART goals can help with this. Specifically, SMART goals translate objectives into targeted, precise items. A SMART goal means it is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Spelling out goals that meet all these criteria enable you to focus your efforts and increase your chances of actually accomplishing your goals. This is incredibly important when you’re self-employed because you are wearing many hats: salesperson, marketing department, writer (or whatever skill you’re selling), bookkeeper, HR, and more. You want to make sure that all the time you’re committing is paying off into something profitable. SMART goals can help you evaluate this and create a solid plan for growth.

Consider asking yourself questions to help you set SMART goals. What will your revenue be in the first year? How many sales will you generate in Q1/Q2/Q3/Q4?

Do the footwork

Becoming self-employed means there are certain administrative things you’ll need to do to set up your business. First, you need to determine what your business structure will be. Will you operate as a sole proprietorship or an LLC? Research the requirements to register your business in your state. In some cases, you may need specific licenses or permits.

On top of that, you’ll need to figure out what you’ll do about things like project management, bookkeeping, health insurance, and just staying organized in general. Remember that thing we said about wearing many hats? This is where that comes into play. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of tools to help you get -- and stay -- organized.

Leverage tools to help you succeed

Once you consult our list of tools to stay organized, you may want to start thinking about how you’ll handle all of the day-to-day details that self-employed individuals must consider. This includes building a website, pricing your products and services, invoicing clients, accepting payments for products and services, tracking profits and losses, and more.

There are plenty of systems available to help your business run smoothly. Many offer free trials, so we recommend taking advantage of those to help you narrow down what works best for you and your business. Start small and build up gradually as you gain a better understanding of things you can handle on your own and areas where you may need additional support.

Prioritize your health

If you’re transitioning from a full-time job to self-employment, health insurance will be a major consideration. While you may be able to leverage COBRA for a period of time, you’ll likely want to consider less expensive options, especially for the long-term. You also don’t want to let health insurance (or your health, in general) fall to the wayside. Prioritizing both physical and mental health is super important for people who work for themselves.

Great news! Decent offers three different health plans that are designed specifically for self-employed people. We know the health insurance struggle is real, so we’re trying to change it by providing affordable, comprehensive options to self-employed people just like you. Interested? Get your free quote today.