Is your number one Bucket List goal to establish your own entity and become a business owner or Solopreneur consultant? Are you planning to abandon the “safety” of a traditional job to directly market and sell your products or services to customers with the money and motive to do business with you?
Going out on one’s own is a thrilling and sometimes frightening prospect. Those who take the plunge eventually discover that many resources that are casually taken for granted while working in an office are not readily available to those who step out on their own. As you weigh your options and prepare to write your business plan, be aware of a few changes and additional expenses to expect should you join the self-employed sector:
No paid days off
There will be no more paid sick days, holidays, vacation days, or personal days when you become the captain of your own enterprise. Neither will there be any pay for days off that result from bad weather. When winter arrives and snow begins to fall, there will be days when harsh weather conditions impact your business and your income. When the governor of your state declares a snow emergency, important meetings will be postponed and businesses may be unable to open and operate.
In particular for those who own a B2B or B2C venture where the business model requires you or your employees to visit the customer’s location (e.g., cleaning services), or customers to visit your location (e.g., a laundromat), snow days = no revenue days. Small businesses have been known to go out of business within a year following periods of extreme weather.
Establish business credit
For tax purposes, it will be useful to open a separate business bank account and also apply for a business credit card or two. There will be business expenses to write off and you’ll want to make it easy to monitor spending. Do yourself a favor and check your personal credit ASAP and pay off outstanding credit card balances to improve your credit score and correct any errors.
Financial management will assume more than one form. As noted above, you’ll need to establish credit for the business, so that you can order inventory and supplies without immediately impacting the business cash flow, for example. Those are Accounts Payable items. You will also need to ensure that customers pay you on time, or at all, and that is an Accounts Receivable function.
Maintaining sufficient cash flow is crucial to the business’ survival and your own ability to keep a roof over your head, food on the table and your car on the road. You must develop a business budget and plan for the purchase of equipment, licensing costs (if applicable), insurance (if applicable), professional certifications (if applicable), or space rental (if needed).
In addition, you may consult with a business attorney or accountant to discuss the legal structure of your venture: Sole Proprietor, Corporation (chapter S or C), or Limited Liability Company (LLC). The type of business that you’re in and your exit strategy will play a role in choosing the business legal entity.
Paying for office supplies
Free scanning and photocopying will be over. When you need to staple a few pieces of paper together, you must buy the stapler and the staples and you’ll buy paper clips and envelopes, too.
There will likewise be no meeting space or audiovisual equipment for you to reserve. You’ll have to meet at the client’s office, or at a coffee shop or other restaurant. Privacy might be an issue and arranging a Power Point or other visual presentation might be awkward as well.
A lap top computer or tablet will be office equipment must-haves. It will be imperative to possess the tools of your trade and to always appear as a competent and prepared professional as you develop your reputation and build your brand. Good luck!
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