In this post I will highlight five tips or areas to consider before starting your freelancing business in Kenya. I will use graphic design related examples which happens to be my field but the tips can be applied across board.
- Choose whether to operate as a consultant or company
From the beginning, it is good to decide whether you will do business and be paid using your personal name or will register a business. You need to weigh carefully the pro and cons of each mode of operation since what you settle on will impact your business. For example when you operate as a consultant who gets paid in your personal name, you might not be able to bid for bigger projects which require only registered companies.
But when you decide to register a business name or company, do not be tempted to issue any invoice with your preferred business name until you have been successfully registered and issued with a certificate of registration. A freelancer might jump the gun and ask a client to write a cheque in a business name that has not been registered only to go to the registrar of businesses later on and discover there is an already existing business with a similar name. The result is, having to go back to the client and ask the cheque to be rewritten in a different name-how unprofessional and embarrassing this is.
- Open a bank account
After registering your business at the registrar’s office, shop for a bank that meets your needs and open an account. Learn to separate your business monies from personal ones. Avoid banking money paid out by a client for services rendered into your personal account. If you ever require a business loan from your bank, one of the assessments the bank will make is on your cash flow (how your money comes in and goes out). So learn to bank every payment made to you by clients, whether small amounts or huge ones for you never know when you might require credit facilities. It is also one of the easiest ways of keeping track of your total sales.
- Decide if you are I or We
If you register a business, another thing to decide is whether to refer yourself as I or we. This sounds obvious but many freelancers have found themselves in dilemmas when pitching jobs or writing proposals on whether to refer themselves as I or we. If you intend to involve other associates or partners in your business then using “we” is appropriate but if you will be offering the services alone then use “I”.
- Narrow down your passion
Define and narrow down your passion. Choose areas you are good at and invest your time and money in them. People will pay more to deal with a specialist than a general practitioner. If you are good in logo design but find yourself struggling to come up with creative animations or websites, outsource or get another creative you can refer the business to and he can also refer you in areas you are strong at.
When clients seek your services, they want to be sure you can solve their briefs without abandoning their work half way. Clients are happy when you handle their projects professionally and even exceed their expectations. This cannot be achieved if you only know a bit of everything, master one or two areas where you will do a thorough job.
- Streamline your accounting
Get your books in order either by hiring an accountant or purchasing a booking keeping software to assist you. Many freelancers and business persons start their business without giving thought to this aspect of their business until they land into trouble with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) or miss out on an opportunity because they couldn’t prove that they have been paying taxes. Not only does paying taxes and good accounting discipline keep you in good books with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), it will also help you know the financial status of your business and whether you are making any progress or just marking time.
I know I have left out many more areas that are often overlooked, feel free to add to the list by commenting below.
Hope this helped,