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3 Things First Time Business Owners (or Freelancers) Should Know

3 Things First Time Business Owners (or Freelancers) Should Know

Running a new business often seems exciting but sustaining a profitable business is not an easy feat. Whether you’ve quit your 9-5 to become a freelancer, set up your own online store, or start a service-based business, in this article we will provide tips that will help make your new venture, however big or small, a success.

Choosing a payment option suited to your needs

Getting paid is one of the most important aspects to running a successful business and there are many different ways to take payment for your goods or services, depending on the type of business that you run. Some of the most common payment methods are cash, checks, debit cards and credit cards. For those of you who will be entering in the B2B space, electronic bank transfers, invoices, and accounts payable are more common.

Therefore, you should research what type of payments are easiest for your customers or clients. For example, if you’re selling clothing in a physical store then cash is likely going to be fine. If your new venture is running a food truck, then something like a mobile payment processor will be more convenient. However, more and more people are preferring contactless payments as a by-product of COVID-19 (e.g., Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay linked to a debit or credit card) and even if you’re running a market stall, it may be easier to convert a “just browsing” into a paying customer. Plus, accepting contactless payment makes it easier for you to reconcile income and reduces the need for manually depositing cash.

Square, Stripe, and EFTPOS are synonymous with mobile payment options for small businesses and these solutions integrate seamlessly with your business bank account. To understand more, read this guide from Westpac on how to accept payments as a mobile business.

If you run an online store, the platform you have chosen (e.g., WooCommerce, Shopify, Wix etc.) will have a list of payment processors for you to choose from. Most, if not all these platforms will allow you to withdraw digital funds and deposit them into a chosen bank account.

Keep your personal finances separate from your business

If you haven’t already found an accountant, now is the time to do so because a good accountant who is experienced with sole proprietorships and freelancers will save you both time and money–both things that are limited in supply when you start a business.

One of the things that an accountant will advise you is to keep your personal finances separate from your business. This means having a completely separate bank account for your business and not mixing them together.

Again, an accountant will be able to provide you with expert advice on how to make this system work and you can read more about hiring an accountant, why you should hire one, and how they can save your business money here, here and here.

Build an online presence so that you can be found or have a die-hard community supporting you

The saying “If you build it, they will come is unfortunately misleading. This is because they–your ideal customers, cannot come to you if they have never heard of you. Therefore, you’ll need to consider how you will do your marketing.

The modern consumer has a complicated buyer’s journey, but one thing is clear. If a customer doesn’t know that you exist–they cannot be your customer. According to Smart Insights, 81% of people search online for a product or service and this applies to both online and brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, 51% of shoppers say they use Google to research a purchase they plan to make.

This goes to show that being found on search engines is part of the marketing mix you should consider. But this doesn’t mean that SEO or SEM are your only marketing channels. Depending on your business, being found on Google may not be your top priority. For example, a cafe or food truck or market stall will probably get more engagement and eyeballs via social media platforms such as Instagram or even LinkedIn if you’re offering professional creative services. As the business owner, it is your responsibility to understand who your ideal customer is, where they go for information and what sources of information they trust.

In closing, running a successful business has many moving parts and by getting in front of the right people, via mediums that they trust, having a low-barrier way for them to pay you, and taking care of your bookkeeping.  All this and you’ll be better positioned to achieve the lifestyle you desire.

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by Harvey Carr // Harvey Carr is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.