Be a freelancer or solopreneur

Overview

Your retirement can mark the end of one career and the beginning of a new one. As a one-person solopreneur/freelancer/independent professional you have significant earnings potential while enjoying high levels of control over your work/life balance. There are literally dozens of worthwhile one-person activities, and more being invented all the time. If you choose to pursue a professional license or credential after retirement, it should be for work that you enjoy and that brings you satisfaction during what will be a significant commitment of your time and energy. Whether you are considering becoming a one-person business, or have already decided to pursue this avenue, the information on these pages will provide you with clarity and direction.

Am I right for this?

10 yes/no questions to help you determine if this is a good direction for you

Am I willing to invest the time, energy, and financial resources required to obtain a professional license if that’s required for the type of work I want to do?

Am I disciplined and self-motivated?

Can I withstand inconsistent income streams?

Do I work well independently?

Am I ok having to respond to clients’ varied requests and requirements?

Am I able to develop, or do I have, a portfolio of work I have produced in the area I want to specialize in?

Do I enjoy sales and marketing, and have I been successful at it?

Am I tech-savvy with using online communication platforms and work tools?

Do I have a large base of potential clients?

Do I enjoy building referral networks and partnerships?

Learn More

If you answer six or more “yes”, this is probably a good direction to pursue.

12 freelance businesses you can start today

  • Online store (Amazon, Ebay, Shopify, Etsy)
  • Voiceover services
  • Copywriter
  • Tutoring
  • Social media services
  • Podcasting
  • Photographer
  • Web design
  • Blogging
  • Virtual assistant
  • Dog groomer

Higher paying freelance jobs

Although the technology sector has many of the highest paying freelance jobs, there are freelance jobs across a broader professional spectrum.

  • Web developer            
  • UX/UI designer
  • Copywriter
  • PR manager                  
  • SEO specialist
  • Video editor
  • Graphic designer        
  • Illustrator                      
  • Cybersecurity expert                
  • Digital marketer          
  • Social media strategist                    
  • Technical writer          
  • Software developer    

Key attributes of successful freelancers/solopreneurs/independent professionals

  • Communication skills
  • Proactive
  • Listening skills
  • Discipline and focus
  • Client oriented
  • Financial skills
  • Ease of learning contractual knowledge
  • Understanding of client buying and selling psychology
  • Patience and resilience

Benefits of being an independent professional

  • High income potential
  • Results of your efforts flow directly to you
  • Flexibility
  • Wide variety of professions to choose from
  • Satisfaction from improving clients’ lives
  • Work/life balance

Q&A

Here are questions and answers that address common issues and concerns for those interested in becoming a freelancer or solopreneur.

Question

What exactly is a solopreneur?

Answer

A solopreneur or solo practitioner is a professional, for example, a financial advisor, massage therapist, or an architect, who practices a specific skill independently. A professional who starts a business with no intention of ever adding staff other than administrative support is a solopreneur.  Note that ‘solopreneur’ is not a legal or official title—it is simply a descriptive term for professionals who choose to work independently.

Question

What is the difference between a solopreneur, freelancer and independent professional, and a small business owner?

Answer

Small businesses typically include employees, multiple functions like technology, human resources, complex bookkeeping, real estate/physical assets, and more. They also include more risk. A freelance, solopreneur and independent professional typically is a one-person business requiring little or no overhead and fewer business management dimensions.

Question

Do I need prior business experience to be successful as a freelancer/solopreneur/ independent professional?

Answer

One of the advantages of being an independent practitioner or solopreneur is that it doesn't typically have as much complexity as a larger business, i.e. employees, complex accounting requirements or physical assets like real estate. However, having your own business involves fundamental marketing and bookkeeping skills. Those are above and beyond the personal traits of discipline, focus, time management, perseverance, resilience and resourcefulness required for success as a solopreneur.

Question

What kind of legal entity would I need to create as a freelance, solopreneur or independent professional?

Answer

This depends on what kind of business or practice you are in. Some have more legal liability than others. And they each have different financial and tax implications. The legal entity that provides the least liability is a sole proprietorship, which is simply running the business as yourself. A limited liability corporation (LLC) will provide more protection; and a corporation will be the strongest shield against legal liability. However, these last two entities require legal guidance and require more compliance. You should consult your accountant to determine the financial and tax considerations.

Question

Will I need professional liability insurance?

Answer

Professional liability protects your business if you make mistakes during the course of your work. The level of liability depends on the nature of the business. If the business carries with it a likelihood of being sued for your actions, liability insurance would be advisable. This is a good question for an attorney.

Question

Can I get a tax deduction if I base my business at home?

Answer

Professional liability protects your business if you make mistakes during the course of your work. The level of liability depends on the nature of the business. If the business carries with it a likelihood of being sued for your actions, liability insurance would be advisable. This is a good question for an attorney.

Question

Should I work from home or rent space outside my home?

Answer

Running your business out of your home is usually the least expensive way to get started. It also provides a lot of convenience. However, working from home isn’t always ideal for some people – you have to avoid the temptation to putter around the house, do chores or otherwise get distracted. An out of home professional workspace such as WeWork, Regus, Roam or even your local library can be more conducive to productivity. Also some cities and towns might have rules limiting location and conditions under which a business can operate, so you would want to take that into consideration.

Option Evaluator

Assess this option against the following eight criteria:

Option Evaluator Graphic

Additional resources

Next steps:

Step 1

Determine if it makes sense for you to become a solopreneur, freelancer, or independent professional based on the “Is this Right for Me” section.

Step 2

Consider the pluses and minuses of self-employment as described on these pages.

Step 3

Be clear on what you’re good at, and what you would enjoy focusing on.

Step 4

Once you decide on an area of focus, assess the competitive landscape to determine if the field is open or highly competitive.

Step 5

Review your personal financial plan to determine if you have the financial resources needed to launch and sustain your business.

Step 6

Check with family members or others who will be directly impacted by your decision and gain support accordingly.

Step 7

Build your business plan. Much information is online to assist you.

Step 8

Consider where and how you would generate your initial client base.

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Get started

Talk to an expert. Explore the options. Dig a little deeper. See if this is right for you.