It might not exactly be the recession anymore, but many recent graduates are still finding they are having a hard time finding their way in a fast-paced and constantly changing job market. Nearly half of all graduates have a job that is not even remotely related to their academic specialization.
This means that unemployment rates are still pretty high, and job prospects are slim for recent grads who tend to have little to no experience. Furthermore, the professional reputation of recent graduates is lacking – most employers loathe working with unqualified graduates.
The good news? The digital era, is actually the perfect time for starting a business, becoming an entrepreneur or succeeding as a freelancer. The demand for freelance or contract work is exploding – today there are more than 12m freelance employers, but my 2015 the number will exceed 14m.
Here are 5 tips for anyone who had had their resume snubbed and is ready to become an outstanding online entrepreneur.
1. Just Do It (All Day, Every Day)
A recent grad, stuck in a dead end job, with no free time isn’t going to do very well as an entrepreneur – the competition will quickly outshine them as speed and efficiency are everything in this field. A great writer isn’t that impressive if it takes them two weeks to turn an article around.
Instead, put absolutely everything into freelancing or contracting to at least get on the right path. There will be gigs and clients that don’t pay well, but at least there’s an end in sight. Start freelancing full-time, and expect to spend at least 50 hours per week (if not more) working, outreaching to clients or searching for new projects.
Finally, do your best to exceed the expectations of your contract. Always over-perform, deliver your products early, and always send very professional emails. It will only take doing this a few times to earn the trust of those you contract for and they will reward you with steady work.
2. Check out the SBA
Every city has a Small Business Administration (SBA) office, and this is where entrepreneurs can get free help filing a business license (the requirements vary by state), apply for business loans, get free resources and be matched with a mentor. For entrepreneurs who aren’t sure where to begin, this is the best place to start. It’s likely that some issues will pop up, and you will have to learn a new way of doing your taxes, so it’s important to have a reputable resource to get help.
3. Build a Brand
Every entrepreneur should be Google-able and know the ins and outs of Google Analytics to keep track of their online presence – s don’t necessarily make yourself up a catchphrase, but don’t rule it out either.
Just remember: it is extremely important you are recognizable.
Whether freelancing or starting a business, it’s important to have a good online presence. This will eventually mean a website and showcase a portfolio, but don’t worry, the design and maintenance are tax write-offs, which to balance the expense. Building a powerful online presence might also require a professional social media page, blog or entries in high quality, local business directories.
4. Track Income Daily
Entrepreneurs need to set a feasible goal every year for their income, as well as the bare minimum they need to survive. An easy equation is to assume 250 work days per year. This number excludes weekends and 10 days of unpaid sick or vacation leave.
So at 250 work days, you would need to earn $100 every work day in order to earn a yearly salary of $25k. Some days you might make more, others you will make less but it is important to keep an eye on this. Additionally, keep taxes in mind as most freelance income is paid to the earner tax-free. This means they will pay their Federal income taxes in one lump sum come April. So keep your eye out for write offs and be sure to factor taxes into your equations.
If you’re serious about freelancing, Quickbooks (or any other accounting software) may be a worthwhile investment.
5. Carefully Consider Freelance vs. Business
Many freelancers get bullied into starting a business from well-meaning family and friends. Understand that there are pros and cons to each, and there’s no good reason to start a business for certain, select freelancers. Talk with a pro at the SBA and do some research to find the truly best route for each entrepreneur (not just what sounds the most professional). The most important factor to consider is often taxes, so a CPA should also be consulted.
For entrepreneurs that can’t find a good job post-graduation, or those who don’t want to work for someone else, now’s the best time to get on the track of entrepreneurship. Get started as early as possible to make the most of it.
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer and researcher from the Olympia, WA area who loves to obsess about weird topics and then write about them. When she isn’t writing, she is outside on her bike and comtemplating her eventual trip to graduate school. Follow her on Twitter @Number1AnnaJo.
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