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How to Start Freelancing Without Having a Mental Breakdown

Sean Smith writes:

Your focus should be on automation & efficient systems first and foremost to easily manage the monotony while you get to work for your clients.

So, from my experience I’ve put together sort of a 101 for new freelancers and experienced ones alike.

His list is good, go check it out. I would add a few things to it:

  • Bench — The online bookkeeping service that does your bookkeeping for you. I used to do my own books (ahem, I mean I used to plan to do my books… they only got done when tax time came around or I convinced my wife to do them). No longer. And it’s all online so I don’t have to visit an office anywhere or wait for an appointment.
  • CFO Andrew — An independent CFO/CPA for Freelancers & Solopreneurs. I used to research my own tax questions and prepare my own taxes. No longer, and I don’t even have to go see anyone or wait for an appointment— I just send off questions from my phone as needed. My understanding is Bench can prepare my taxes too, but I like using a CPA because I often have other questions that come up throughout the year that aren’t just return preparation related.
  • A small business credit card (I had a good experiencing getting a Capital One Spark Business Credit card when I had very little credit) — Put all business expenses on this card and set the balance to be paid in full each month if possible. Doing this builds credit for things you are going to be paying for each month anyhow and also buys you another ~21 days of cash flow (since the credit card balance will carry it at 0% interest until your next statement is due). I have mine set to automatically get paid each month in full, but from time to time I may override this and only pay the minimum (or some other less than full payment) for cash flow management purposes. This gives me additional flexibility in that way too.
  • Fundbox — a simple way to fix cash flow (on occasion) by getting advances on outstanding invoices (you get a loan against the invoice amount immediately after you issue an invoice to a client — it gets deposited in your checking account the next business day — regardless of when the client pays you). This is handy, albeit costly. Use it when cash is tight and clients are slow to pay, but come up with ways to solve your cash flow issues in other ways over the long run. Even so, cash flow is key when you’re a small business and having multiple tools available is handy when cash crunches crop up. Fundbox integrates directly with Freshbooks.

By Josh Richards

Josh is a consulting network/ systems/ cloud engineer, freelance high stakes IT project manager, and former technology executive. He has consulted on information technology matters for over twenty-five years. In 2006, consulting became his primary source of income (just before the global financial crisis!). He’s a big fan of craft beer, freshly roasted coffee, artistic burlesque, good food, and applying science and reason to problems and opportunities small and large (and just for fun). When he has time and energy he also likes to get out on his bike or attend a soccer match.