By Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media & SmallBizDaily.com
Whether you call yourself self-employed, a freelancer, or a solo-preneur, one thing is true: The success of your business depends on you. For a thriving business (and a happier life) in 2019, here are nine changes every solo entrepreneur should make.
1. Get more sleep
Staying up till 4 a.m. to meet a client deadline may work once in a while, but if you keep it up indefinitely, your health and your business will suffer. Freelancers who work from home often struggle to set boundaries with their work. Try setting a strict cut-off time to end your workday. At that time, do a “brain dump” and write down everything you need to do tomorrow so you can get it off your mind. Don’t be afraid to set smartphone reminders and timers for downtime.
2. Get your taxes in order
The big tax changes that went into effect last year mean the IRS will be examining small business tax returns closely. Reduce the risk of an audit by getting your tax documents together now and scheduling a meeting with your tax preparer ASAP. And for the coming year, start using apps to track income and expenses.
3. Consider raising your prices
It’s easy to get stuck with the low rates you offered clients when you first started, but the new year is a natural time to raise prices. If you’re not sure what your time is actually worth, start with a time tracking solution that can help you measure every second spent on each client or project. With the right tool, you can be confident you’re always invoicing accurately and getting paid your worth. Bonus points if your time tracking software integrates with popular accounting and invoicing apps like QuickBooks Self-Employed.
4. Make more connections
Commit to joining one new networking group this quarter, either online or in person (or both). Reach out to colleagues you’ve lost touch with to reconnect. Invite people you only know through social media to meet up for coffee and see if you can work together.
5. Consult a business pro
Having someone to serve as a sounding board and provide impartial advice can be invaluable in growing your business. Tap into organizations like SCORE and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC).* Both offer free, expert business advice for entrepreneurs on all aspects of business growth.
6. Follow up on dormant prospects
Got a client you haven’t worked with in a while or a prospect you gave up on last year? Don’t let them slip away. Give them a call or reach out online to see how they’re doing. You never know when they might have a project you could help with or know someone who needs your services.
7. Learn a new skill
Expand your business by learning something new such as coding, copywriting, or video editing to help you target more customers with a broader range of services. You can take classes at local community colleges or adult education centers, or tap into the online courses offered by Coursera or Udemy.
8. Start outsourcing
When your business grows beyond what you can handle, you’ll need to be prepared. Get ready now by finding some trustworthy freelancers. Look for reliable freelancers through your network of friends and contacts — getting recommendations from people you know is the best way to go.
Can’t find the skills you need through your network? Marketplaces like Upwork, Guru, and Freelancer can match you with the perfect independent contractor. Who knows? You might even find someone good enough to take on as a permanent employee.
9. Savor your success
Being self-employed can be challenging at times, but the rewards far outweigh the difficulties. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by your business, take a moment to be grateful for all the positive aspects of self-employment, such as making your hours, choosing your projects, and building your future.
*SCORE and the LA-SBDC are clients of my business.
Rieva Lesonsky is the CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for free TrendCast reports.