You may be saying, “What team? I’m freelance. I work for and by myself.
To which we say, let’s get you some help.
Being freelance is awesome. At least we think so. We’ve been offered many a full-time job since gong freelance but neither of us have taken one because we love the freedom freelance affords us.
But one of the hardest parts of being freelance is you have take on every single role of a business.
You may be a designer, or an illustrator, or a photographer, but you also have be an account person, a project manager, your own HR and IT departments, not to mention the boss and your own administrative assistant.
Especially when freelancers are starting out, there is tendency to want to do it all yourself. You’re not quite sure how much you’re going to make, so you’re hesitant to hire someone else to do anything.
But what you’re going to find, is the more you can outsource the things you aren’t good at and don’t like doing, the more and better you can do what you love to do.
Take doing your taxes.
It should go without saying that you should not do them yourself.
Even if you had time, and love math and numbers, you can’t possibly keep up with all the ins and outs of how tax changes affect freelancers like us.
An accountant will pay for themselves in what they save you, and their fee is… tax deductible. They are probably the most important member of your team, for reasons we’ll get to shortly.
And then there's health care.
Which you need.
But you don’t need to wade through all the health care plan benefit summaries yourself. We recommend working with a health care broker. You can tell them the doctors and specialists you see, and even the closest hospital or two, and they will tell you which insurance company is the best match, and help you sort through the Gold versus Silver A versus Sliver B versus Bronze plans. They’ll even help you apply for the plan that’s right for you and make sure it's been processed, and best of all, they get paid by the health care provider.
And then at some point you are going to get to a place where you have more work than you can possibly handle.
We are both lucky to have gotten to the place where we can pick the projects we like the looks of, and refer someone else to ones we don't or don't have time for.
But another approach, and one we've dabbled with, is to take on more work than you can handle alone and bring on people to help you. There are some downsides, you start doing some managing instead of just making. But the upside is since you can take on more projects, you can make a lot more, especially if you’re charging more for your team’s time than you’re paying out. You can also take on bigger projects which requires skills you don’t have yourself.
If you’re even the slightest bit curious about what it would be like to start a company or your own agency, this is a great way to try it on for size.
And you know who is going to be invaluable if you go down this road?
Choosing an accountant who has a number of freelance clients is crucial, because when and if your freelance business starts to become a legitimate business they can help set you up as an LLC, or an S Corp, and can of course explain the difference and which is right for you.
They can also help you find a bookkeeper and payroll specialist, which are both essential when you start hiring out and building even a short-term team.
They should also be able to recommend a financial advisor, so you can start investing what you earn above what you spend, so you have a little something left over, or better yet a lot left over, for retirement.
You don't want to assemble this team on your own. You want your accountant to help you build this team so they are all talking and working together on your behalf.
So how do you find a great accountant? Talk to other freelancers in your community. The really good ones. (Maybe even the ones you’re a bit daunted to talk to about work as this is a great opener and an easy way to engage them). And ask them who they use and how the experience has gone.
Or better yet, join Mt. Freelance. Take the course, of course. You are going to learn about building a team, along with 32 other lessons.
But you can also hop in the Mt. Freelance Facebook group and ask other freelancers around about accountants or how they have built their team.
Hope to see you in there soon.
Andrew & Aaron
But here's your chance to learn from our mistakes!
Mt. Freelance put together some advice for freelancers that we wish we had earlier in our career. It's called:
The guide is written from experience that will offers some new tactics, perspectives and freelance hacks.