Going Independent: Part II

Last week, I wrote a blog about my journey from my “day” job to my new career as a freelancer.  Several people who read that blog contacted me to ask questions and chime in with their experiences.  As a result of that feedback, I decided to expand upon my experiences and lessons learned here:

Diversify Your Business Offerings:
When I first thought about a name for my new company, I knew that I wanted it to represent the different types of work that I do:  event planning, social media and marketing.  I remember muttering to myself, “I’m open-minded about the work that I do,” and hence, OpenMindWorks was born.

I also recognized that the event planning business remained soft as a result of the economy.  There are many highly experienced independent planners and planners who are out of work; competition is fierce.  As such, it’s been my experience that many more people do need help with marketing and social media.  My advice:  don’t put all of your proverbial eggs in one basket when setting up your business.  Be known for something other than your main trade.

Be Visible:
Once you’ve launched your new business, reach out to your contacts to let them know what you’re doing.  Write a guest blog, deliver a presentation for a local association chapter, ask for a LinkedIn endorsement, update your status on LinkedIn regularly.  This may sound obvious, but it’s important to get on prospective clients’ radar regularly.

Work Your Network:
I spend several hours weekly on LinkedIn for a variety of reasons, but I have a mental goal of contacting a certain number of connections each week.  With only a couple of exceptions, all of my clients have been from referrals.  In fact, you’ll find that many small business owners will tell you that the majority of their business is comprised of referrals.

A Word About Health Insurance:
Much uncertainty surrounds the health insurance debate in the U.S.  No one will argue that health insurance is expensive and a necessity for most folks.

Do your research on available options before you jump ship and set up shop.  COBRA may be available from your employer.  Check out the Department of Health website for the state in which you reside; some offer reduced-cost health insurance for fledgling entrepreneurs.  Call your current health insurance carrier to find out which programs are available at full cost (when not subsidized by your current employer).  Talk to other small business owners about how they manage their own healthcare needs.  Professional associations are another resource for health insurance; some offer this service as a membership benefit.


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