When you embark on a freelancer career learning to think like a business is one of the fundamental skills you need to acquire. Devising a business plan and scoping out the market are just a few things you should be considering.

Step 1: Market scoping

When starting a new freelance business, do some market research to see if there is a gap in the market and demand for your expertise.

It's worth considering:

  • How many freelancers already work in your area
  • The amount of opportunities and vacancies
  • Dynamics of your potential competition

From this, you can decide how to position yourself accordingly in terms of price, customer service and so forth.

Step 2: Devise a basic plan

A basic plan should clearly outline the following:

  • Product and/or service offering
  • Target audience and market segments
  • Scope, size and trends within your market
  • Pricing model
  • Main competition
  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats

At this stage you should also start considering marketing tools and image – this should include: a logo, business cards, letterheads, website, email address and other marketing collateral.

Step 3: What business vehicle you will operate through?

There are many different types of business that a freelancer can choose to operate through. To learn more about these business vehicles and to work out which is the best option for your business needs, please click on the below links:

  • Sole trader
  • Limited company
  • PAYE umbrella company
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability partnership

Step 4: This is just the beginning...

  • Members: complete our freelance toolkit checklist for start-ups.
  • Take a look at our freelance career ladder report which outlines seven business models to help plan your journey.
  • Get the complete A-Z of running a freelance business by downloading our free Guide to Freelancing.

Other things to consider...

Social media

Seek out networking tools, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, which can provide valuable insight into the trials, tribulations and rewards of working freelance. They can also give you a bit of insight into the competition!

Professional advice

There is no replacement for professional advice and this is particularly important when you are starting up. IPSE accredited accountants have received additional training in tax matters of particular importance to freelance workers and developed a good understanding of how freelance businesses operate. Click here to view IPSE's list of accredited accountant practices.

IPSE Supplier Directory

IPSE have gathered together a large number of businesses that offer their services to freelancers and contractors, some of which may also have special rates for IPSE members. Browse through the variety of organisations in our Supplier Directory.

Freelance calculators

If you are thinking about starting out as a freelancer, contractor, consultant or just taking on a new contract then you need to be able to project your earnings based on the way that you operate and understand the impact that changes will make to your lifestyle. 

Managing your money, Finding Contracts