Let’s talk about what’s important…
So many things people focus on when trying to start a business are incredibly unimportant to their success.
This is part of the reason I recommend the Michael Masterson book, Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat to every entrepreneur.
He minces no words what’s important in getting started. Namely, making sales.
If you’re not making sales, you don’t have a business. We don’t have a need for an office. You don’t have a need for a corporate structure. You don’t have a need for any of frivolity and trivialities of a business.
Sure, at some point those become important.
But until you are making sales, they really are not important at all.
That sets the frame for today’s Mailbox Monday question. Yes, I will provide answers to some of these technical level questions. But it is all within the context of recognizing that if you are not making sales, selling your products or services, so many details that keep people up at night are unnecessary at best.
And if you have a question related to copywriting, marketing, Internet business building, freelancing, selling, or related topics, you can submit it here for me to answer in a future Mailbox Monday issue.
Here’s today’s question…
I have a ton of questions, no resources in the business aside from seemingly intangible YouTube personalities, and definitely no expendable income to buy courses and books. (2 kids under 4, 1 income home, and we are about to have an emergency replacement of our entire septic system. Yeah, money is an issue.)
If you could take the time to give genuine answers to even one or two of my questions to nudge me closer to a writing career I would be more grateful than you could ever know.
I have always been a good writer and salesman but have had no experiences that connected the dots on this being a financially fruitful skill. I have been studying all I can lately on freelance writing in many forms, copywriting, etc. I really think this may be the way to break free from the 9-5 cubicle life that has destroyed my health, sanity, and family life for years now. I want to be home with my wife and kids. I want FREEDOM! (Yes, yelled William Wallace style.)
Here are a few of the questions I’ve been chewing on lately.
- Do freelance writers and/or copywriters need a business license? if so, what kind. LLC, S corp., etc.?
- What is the best method for getting paid? I am assuming to ask for a check rather than a direct deposit like PayPal.
- I have a family and tech job at an office 45 minutes away. my only time to start this work is usually 10pm-midnight. Do you have any suggestions to efficiently get this ball rolling so I can make this life change as fast as possible?
I could greatly elaborate how badly I want all the widely touted benefits of the writer lifestyle but I’m sure you don’t have time for sap stories from a total stranger. Just know that I deeply appreciate any input you can provide. You have no idea how desperate I am to escape the common grind and gain financial freedom.
There are a lot of questions in there so I will do my best to unpack them…
First though, I’m going to challenge one major assumption here.
For the whole “I don’t have money” bit, be resourceful. There’s a tremendous amount of free information available on the Internet. Pretty much every question asked here can be answered with some Google searching. And of course, by asking me this question.
And when that’s not possible, consider your local library. There are tremendous resources available through libraries on starting a business that can answer these questions.
Not only that, many libraries have access to online e-book and audiobook libraries that they provide to members at no cost.
I like to buy things, to benefit their creators. However, I am not above using these free resources and you should not be either.
Plus, consider how you can start your career by reinvesting what you make. If you have a full-time job, you can do a small amount of work on the side and use the income from that to purchase resources that will help you grow your business. I did this for years as I was building my freelance business while working a full-time job.
The more you come up with excuses, the less you will find a way. In the words of the Stoics, the obstacle is the way. Figure out how to overcome these obstacles, and you will be carving your path.
Okay. Let’s dig into the technical questions.
Do freelance writers and/or copywriters need a business license? if so, what kind. LLC, S corp., etc.?
Here’s where we get into what I consider to be mostly unimportant details.
I have an accountant. They help me set up my business. I consider every dollar that I spend with my accountant a very smart investment. They do things that I have no desire to do, and am terrible at.
One of the things that they did was figure out based on my situation what kind of business structure would be the best fit for me. I didn’t know the answer to that question. And I don’t have the expertise to find out in a great way. So I asked them. They asked me a bunch of questions, and they told me.
My business is an S Corp.
Is this the right corporate structure for you? I don’t know. I really don’t. But because my business is owned by me (and my wife, due to state laws) and I don’t have interest in bringing on multiple owners or taking it public, this worked well for me.
This decision was also made with full awareness of all state and national tax laws, in order to give me the best tax structure for my income.
If my business were to change significantly, I would ask them the right strategy.
Part of the reason I can’t actually answer this question is because I don’t know these details about you, and even then, I don’t know how they plug into current corporate structure laws.
And so my best advice in answering this question is to pay an accountant for an hour of their time.
NOW HERE IS THE BIG BUT…
While you’re just getting started, you really don’t need this.
The way that tax laws work, is you can do work as a freelancer and get paid as an individual, and then report that income separately for taxes.
If you start making a decent amount of money, you can invest some of that towards figuring out your corporate structure. But if you’re not making any income, it is silly to worry about having the perfect tax structure for your freelance work.
What is the best method for getting paid? I am assuming to ask for a check rather than a direct deposit like PayPal.
Put simply, the best way to get paid is the way that your client will make payments, and that you can accept them.
I prefer checks made out to my business. I have a business bank account. I go to my bank, and deposit the checks. In fact, I deposited a royalty check a couple hours ago.
But again, you don’t have to worry about getting this perfect.
You can accept PayPal. You can accept Zelle. You can accept bitcoin. You can set up a Stripe account and accept credit cards.
Many payment methods charge a little bit more for you to get your money faster. Some are cheaper, but take longer. You have to decide what’s right for you.
I have a couple clients that are actively paying me right now, and one of them actually asked to set me up on direct deposit. That’s great. Money just shows up in my account.
Again, I’m pretty flexible, and you probably should be too. Have a preference. But if your client has a specific way they want to pay you, and it’s not too much of a hassle or too expensive, you should probably just take that money.
I have a family and tech job at an office 45 minutes away. my only time to start this work is usually 10pm-midnight. Do you have any suggestions to efficiently get this ball rolling so I can make this life change as fast as possible?
Okay. Actually have three recommendations for this.
The first is something I almost never recommend. And that is to get your earliest experience through the freelance job sites. Those tend to be small projects that are easy to complete during off-hours. And the projects are coordinated through a website, often with little expectation of phone or other contact during the day. This can be a great way to get your first few paying projects under your belt.
Second, find smaller projects with clients who are aware of and okay with your working hours. I say smaller because it’s very hard in those small windows to do big deep work. And you should certainly never lie about your unavailability during work hours. There are some clients who will not want that, and that means they are not good clients for you right now. The ones who are okay with it will work with you and expect slower communication turnaround.
Third, consider launching a small side project. This could be a little publishing project or sourcing and selling a physical item. This is easier and cheaper than ever, and would allow you to very quickly get experience without having to deal with the client issue. And again, if this is primarily for experience it doesn’t have to make a ton of money for it to be considered a success. But if it does start making money, great!
No matter what you do, start…
I know you want to make this change as fast as possible.
The thing is, it won’t be some instant transformation. That’s like expecting to get from New York to San Francisco immediately. You can get there, and you can get there quickly. But you can’t expect to be dawdling along in New York and suddenly because you want to go to San Francisco, you’re there.
You have to take the journey. In the journey is a series of steps that will get you from one place to the other.
If you’re hiking, start taking steps.
If you’re driving, start driving.
If you’re flying, take the step to book your ticket.
No matter what you’re doing, it will be a series of steps. And you will only get there as fast as you complete all the steps, and is much as you focus on the important steps as opposed to the trivialities.
If your biggest concern about getting from New York to San Francisco is picking out a suitcase, you’ll never get there. If you’re ready to get on the plane with the clothes on your back, you could be there by this time tomorrow.
The question is, what is the next action you need to take to move you toward that destination? When you are constantly asking and answering that question, and then taking that next step, doing that next action, breakthroughs will come fast and furious..
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,