Join Tom Geller for an in-depth discussion in this video Finding professional service vendors, part of Freelancing Fundamentals.
As your freelance career progresses, you'll occasionally need professional services. There are lots of people selling such services but it can be hard to find the ones who are right for you and your type of business. Just as it takes time and attention to build a network of colleagues you trust, it will take time and attention to gather together the service providers you trust. The big services you're likely to need are in the areas of insurance, bookkeeping and law. As always, the first place to go is to your colleagues.
Ask them who they're using and who they've heard is good. Also, be on the lookout for professional networking events and mixers. At such events, you'll be able to talk with respective providers face to face. Try to find professionals who are right for you and what you are doing. Make sure they've worked with freelancers before. The good news is that some professionals even specialize in helping freelancers. For insurance, your needs will vary depending on your location and type of business. There's not really a one-size-fits-all solution.
If you know anybody whose business is very similar to yours, ask them who they use. Some business and professional organizations can also direct you to appropriate insurance agents. If that fails, try an online search for small business insurance along with the name of your state or region. Whatever path you take, plan a substantial first meeting with the insurance agent to discuss your needs. With so many variations, professional guidance is a big help here. The same is true for bookkeeping services.
The big thing you'll need to help with is taxes. They're little complicated and I'll go into more detail in another movie, but the same tips apply for finding a bookkeeper, as for finding an insurance agent. For lawyers, I've had good luck through the Bar Association. The important thing to remember is that you don't have to go it alone. Although it'll be hard to spend the money when you're first starting out, it's smart to pay for others' expertise, especially if its expertise you don't have yourself, or if it'll save you a lot of time.
It doesn't cost anything to look around or to ask your colleagues for guidance when you need it.
A bonus chapter covers common questions freelancers have when entering the field.
- What is freelancing?
- Defining your career goals
- Funding your startup
- Getting licenses, permits, and insurance
- Setting prices
- Finding work through agencies
- Getting referrals
- Working with time and project management tools
- Increasing your rates