Whether you freelance full-time or you take on projects as a day job allows, you probably think of yourself as a freelancer. That’s true, but that’s not the only title you qualify for. You’re also a small business owner. Thinking in terms of that job title can open up some interesting avenues.
How often have you taken a look at a tool or a resource meant specifically for small business owners and thought, ‘Oh, I don’t qualify for that’? When I started out as a freelancer, I skipped out on a free class for small business owners on how to handle taxes, because I figured it wouldn’t apply to me. After a while, I figured out that the IRS certainly considers me a business owner and that class probably would have saved me a lot of worry. I’ve been kicking myself ever since.
Making Use of Small Business Tools
I use a lot of software and other tools that were created with small businesses in mind. I may not use it in exactly the way it was intended — I use a client relationship management tool built for business owners to keep track of my sources and contacts who I rely on to help with articles. I do use it to keep track of my clients as well, but it lets me search for individuals based on name, job title, business or even tags I’ve added myself. That seems like a great way to manage sources to me.
The same goes for the software I use to keep my books, send invoices and handle every other part of my freelance business. It’s worthwhile to seek out tools created for small businesses, rather than just for freelancers. There are tools out there for freelancers, of course, but there aren’t as many of them and some just don’t have that many features. I even know of one invoicing tool that offers separate versions for freelancers and small business owners: the freelance version doesn’t let you add more than a handful of clients and simply doesn’t streamline the invoicing process the way the small business version does.
There seems to be a certain assumption on the part of software developers that freelancers don’t need tools that make our lives easier, that we never have more than five clients at a time and we have no interest in reducing the time spent on administrative tasks so we can get back to writing. I’ve never found those assumptions to be true, but I have found small business tools to be very useful to my freelance business.
I’ve been using Quickbooks for 15 years, which is much more of a small business tool than the Quicken Home and Business. If someone is freelancing and trying to earn a living (rather than pizza money), he or she is indeed running a small business.
Yes, I totally agree with you that being a full time freelancer means being a small business owner myself. I really think we need tools that will make our lives much simpler like those to-do list apps that organize your tasks for the day. Great that you brought this issue up. Thanks.