When going it alone as a freelancer, a quick glance at the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Bill Gates may fill you with a sense that you’ve got an awful lot of ground to make up. Going from a blank sheet of paper to stratospheric success will seem like an impossible dream.

Reality check time. Few freelancers make that leap to supersonic success and wealth. There aren’t many Elon Musks for a reason; the ability to become that successful requires an awful lot of stamina and an even greater degree of luck. We can’t all be in exactly the right place at the right time.

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, and I’ve got 5 tips from the best that will help you build your own mini empire.

  1. Take risks

There isn’t a successful entrepreneur out there who hasn’t take a number of risks. Such risks can involve painful decisions and what may feel like blind leaps into the unknown, but if you don’t take them, you’ll never have a chance of seeing them succeed.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, has always said that he would regret not trying something but would never regret failure. Wise words.

  1. Find good people

A business idea will only work if you work with the best people. As a freelancer, you can’t do it all yourself. Find a decent accountant and partner with like-minded companies or other freelancers who need your services to better service their clients.

Reach out, talk to people and make connections on LinkedIn; successful entrepreneurs have lots of friends.

  1. Say ‘no’

One of the worst things that can happen as a freelancer is reaching burnout. And, while the internet is chock-full of tips for entrepreneurs, this one can most definitely be applied to your freelancing business.

When first starting out, it is tempting to take on as much work as you can find. Unfortunately, in doing so, you’re likely to disappoint clients as you fail to make deadlines. Fix this and avoid burning yourself out by saying ‘no’ to jobs you can’t do. That way, you can do the best job possible for everyone else and receive the recognition you deserve.

  1. Don’t overspend

Successful entrepreneurs have a keen grasp on finances. On the outside, their risk taking may appear blasé and even careless at times, but you can bet your bottom dollar (if you’ll excuse the pun) that every penny is accounted for in their planning.

You probably haven’t got deep pockets if you’re freelancing for the first time, so only spend money on things you absolutely need. Don’t be frivolous and be inventive with your tools and resources. Do you need that new laptop? Probably not.

  1. Set goals

Contrary to popular belief, writing a War and Peace-sized business plan isn’t always a necessity, unless you’re looking to borrow from a bank. Let’s assume that as a freelancer, this isn’t your intention.

Without goals, however, you’ll literally be grappling in the dark. Set one, two and three year touchpoints for your business. How many clients do you want to gain? What partnerships do you want to develop? What will you do with your social media marketing strategy? Once you have goals, you can start devising specific tasks intended to help you hit them.

As a freelancer, you’re an entrepreneur. Never forget that.

Mark Ellis is a writer and the owner of Business Fiction, a copywriting service for businesses of all sizes. Mark’s considerable experience at director level and deep interest in personal and business success means he’s ready to comment on anything from workplace dynamics to personal improvement.

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