Over the summer I’ve coached a few friends and some new freelancers that were referred to me. The goal: launching their new business or taking their freelance practice to the next level. I love helping people in this way and learning about their unique talents and experiences.
I’ll post a link to each of their businesses at the bottom of this post if you want to check them out. First, I want to share some of the tools and recommendations I made repeatedly during these sessions to help them get them up and running.
Note 1: everything below is about setting up a business in the United States.
Note 2: some links below are affiliate links. You might save some money using these links, and I might get some cash for referring you. But I will never share something just for the referral money. I use and trust all of the products below.
Form your business.
Start simply. Chances are you don’t need an LLC or formal business structure. If you are considering it, find an accountant / CPA that knows the current tax law in your state and nationally, and work with them. It’ll be worth the up front cost to ensure you’re set up properly.
Otherwise, you’re probably good just being you, a freelancer. If you have a new brand to launch, you can set up as a sole proprietorship and file with your local county clerk as a Doing Business As (DBA).
If you have questions or need some assistance, please get in touch. I love this kind of work – helping people launch their dreams or some new venture!
I have had excellent luck with the following services to help establish legal business documents and file with your state and/or setting up a federal employee identification number (EIN) if you need one.
I used them for trademark work and had an excellent experience. I still use the lawyer I found through this service.
- Rocket Lawyer
I like them because you get a ton of stuff for free, and then can pay for what you need as add-on service. You always keep your free account and have access to the documents you created.
- Stripe Atlas
An awesome service from Stripe that does a lot of the work for you, incorporating a business in Delaware and filing all of your business documents for $500 (also requires annual fees associated with maintaining the business). You also get access to training and a business community.
Set up your business financials.
This is critical. You need to get paid, right? This has become a lot easier than it was when I started my business over a decade ago. Most importantly, set up a separate account for your business. If you are freelance, you can get by with a separate personal account, but I still recommend exploring business banking. You can find options that don’t require minimum deposits, or if they do, it’s only around $500. It’s also good to set up a separate business credit card – find a no-fee one to start – for easier expense reporting and tracking.
- Wave Accounting
Invoicing, accounting, and expense tracking all in one. For free. It’s that easy. If you grow, you can also add payroll and hire an accountant directly within WaveApps.
Set up a Stripe account for credit card processing. It’s so much easier than something like PayPal and integrates with many other services.
Easy storefronts, in-person card processing, and cool gadgets for sales.
Have at least two employees who need health insurance benefits? I love Justworks as a Professional Employment Organization (PEO). They provide big company benefits to small businesses at reasonable prices. Ask me more about my experience and a referral discount.
Do you hire contractors? Send and track 1099s for tax purposes easily through this service.
Establish your online presence.
Do not run your business exclusively through Facebook. Ask me why.
Register your domain and set up a simple email inbox or forward. Please stay away from GoDaddy! Ask me why.
Fast, private email.
Shameless plug for my WordPress services. Get a website, contact form, online payments, calendar, form builder, and more.
- Fathom Analytics
I recommend avoiding the evil Google empire. Fathom is awesome and made by friendly, cool Canadians.
Make it easy for people to work with you.
The best scheduling / booking tool out there. I’ve tried them all.
- Uber Conference
Free for 45 minute calls. Excellent interface and no downloads required by attendees.
- Free Conference Call
Free online meeting tool with video and screen share and a free conference call line.
- Open Phone
Great alternative to Google Voice for around $10 per month.
- Help Scout
The best online help desk and knowledge base builder I’ve found. Super simple to use and they’re an awesome organization.
- Coda / Notion / Miro
All simple, collaborative documents and workspaces.
Price your services.
I can’t tell you how to price your services, but I can recommend some resources I’ve used over the years.
An excellent calculator to determine how much you should charge based on your desired income, days off, hours per week, etc.
An excellent free database tool for all kinds of business operations. Here is a template I use to calculate retainer rates, caps, etc.
Business I’ve helped this summer:
Want some help launching your project/business? Let me know!