This post is an excerpt from my book DISTRIBUTED.
Now, this is one of the most common challenges. Actually, this is the one I took myself years ago. How to become a distributed business, basically a company, after you had a successful freelancing career.
IT IS A TRANSITION
The most common misunderstanding is not viewing this as a transition and seeing it more as a milestone. It is really unique when you have a point, which you have reached and suddenly you are not a freelancer anymore but an owner of a company. It is not like that – it is smoother. I know many startup founders and solopreneurs who have companies – successful ones but at an early stage – but still do some freelancing. It keeps them fresh and it pays the bills. If you are a successful freelancer, why would you want to throw away the opportunity to have a decent income while you are building your distributed business?
However, you have to approach the distributed business model somewhat the same as a startup. You have to reclaim your own freelancing hours and substitute it with employees. If you are a freelance designer and bill out 8 hours per day and you want to build a distributed business for your own designer agency, hire your first employee on part-time and transfer half of your current workload there. Slow steps and once you are free from actual billable freelance hours of yours, you can start to act as a company and build it further.
THE HIRED GUN MISTAKE
Avoid the hired gun mistake though. From day one, start to build a distributed work culture and establish clear responsibilities and accountability within your team. Hiring other freelancers and your freelancer friends is risky, you can end up in tricky situations. Make sure you are building a business – and not a group of freelancers. I will talk about the hired gun mistake later on in this book.
ACT LIKE A COMPANY
Once you did the first small steps in hiring, try to change your contracts with clients. Transition away from per-hour work to monthly retainers and fixed priced projects. The secret is to offer more than ‘just’ your expertise. A freelancer is an expert whom can be hired to do a job. A business, however, is a business which you hire to deliver a service. Part of this service is the expertise, but it is only a piece of the mix.
There is one great relieving news: for a freelancer, no matter where you are based, distributed business is the way to go. You don’t really need to evaluate, pivot or test the approach, you just need to go with the flow and slowly building up the distributed business for yourself.
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At Anywhere Consulting, we help entrepreneurs to launch, build and grow their remote business. We provide support and consulting services as well as educational products to overcome the challenges of remote businesses. If you are a freelancer who wants to launch a distributed business or you already have an established business but want to grow remotely, we can help you.