From Solo Freelancer to Design Firm Owner

Next Friday’s Morning Roundtables at the Creative Freelancer Conference will include Jonathan Cleveland of Cleveland Design on: From Solo Freelancer to Design Firm Owner. Here’s a preview of what you will learn. See you there?

If you find yourself dreaming, scheming, or just not sure about crossing over from solo-freelancer to business owner, here are a few thoughts to consider.

I spent my first years in this industry working at a design firm, then I went on to become a solo freelancer for 4 years before making the decision that I wanted my name on the door with a few employees behind it.

Twenty years later, I couldn’t be happier and have created a business that is focused and trusted by clients I never imagined would be part of my base when I was a freelancer.

As a freelancer, I was a “jack-of-all-trades” and as the rest of the saying goes, “master of none.” Making the decision to create a solid business can give you multiple opportunities in this industry that is rarely going to happen for you as a solo freelancer.  Being a freelancer can be the greatest job in the world, but for some—you will eventually want a “business” and not a “job.”

There is a difference. A business allows you to expand and offer other services for talents that you just don’t have. You may be a great print designer and creative thinker but the client also needs a web campaign and if you have no web skills, then you have just lost the vision and creative control for the entire campaign. Your business could offer all of these services by hiring your own freelancers, or employees, to help round out your services.

Think about how your client now perceives you. Are you a freelancer, there for a job? Or are you a business, there as a partner?

When you make the transition to becoming a business owner, you immediately become a leader, manager, and mentor. Your role with your client becomes more of a trusted business partner, and less of a single talent to help out on a marketing project.

I’m sure in the statement —“jack-of-all-trades”— makes you think of a few jobs you do best, or love the most. Or industries you prefer to work in as opposed to taking whatever good job comes your way. Being a business allows you to find your niche, focus on what you do best and target the industry you love to work in. This will give you time to educate yourself and become an expert in this field. Clients like this, and these days, expect it.

The main questions I am always asked are: How do I do this? When should I do this? How and when should I hire someone? I hope you can join me at the Creative Freelancer Conference Morning Roundtable Discussion on Friday morning, June 22 , 8:00 am, to ask the how and when, and any other questions you may have on becoming a successful business owner.

There are many stories online for looking at the risks of starting your own business, you can read them all and take them or leave them. They are all true, but easily avoidable if you plan in advance. For a great resource for getting the facts on the logistics of starting a design business, check out The Designer’s Guide to Marketing & Pricing.

Creating something lasting and formidable in the shape of a business can be rewarding to both your spirit, creativity, and your bank account. The process for transitioning from solo-freelancer to business owner can be an exciting time in your career and open your mind to creating a solid future. Join me, I would love to hear your ideas and share my experience with you.

Website: www.clevelanddesign.com follow me on twitter @cdesignboston

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