Freelance Startup: How to Get Your Home-Based Business Off the Ground

If you’re over cubicles, office politics, and micromanaging bosses, going freelance sounds like the obvious choice. Choose your own clients, set your own schedule, direct your own creative choices; it’s every professional’s dream, but working solo is a lot harder than it seems. If you want to enjoy the perks of the freelance life, you have to put in the work. Here’s where to start when launching your first freelance business.

1. Choose a Name

You need a name to register your business, get an Employer Identification Number (EIN), and open a bank account, so there’s no time to waste choosing a business name. Your business name should be easy to read, understand and remember. A business name can be abstract or informative, but either way customers should be able to quickly tell what your business does. If you’re struggling to come up with a name that works, try a business name generator for ideas.

2. Get Legal

As far as running a business goes, freelancing is easy mode. However, there are still legal and regulatory matters to deal with before launching your business, like:

  • Register your business with your state’s Secretary of State.
  • Register for an employer ID number with the IRS. (You need this even if you don’t have employees.)
  • Register with the Electronic Filing and Tax Payment System for paying federal taxes.
  • Apply for a sales tax permit with your state if selling products or services subject to sales tax.
  • Apply for professional and trade licenses.
  • File for a Home Occupation Permit or zoning variance.


You may need additional paperwork depending on the nature of your business. The Small Business Administration lists licenses and permits that are common to home-based businesses.

3. Develop Systems

Do you know what you’ll charge clients, the terms of your contracts and how you’ll manage invoices and track expenses? If these systems aren’t established before you launch, it won’t be long before you’re utterly overwhelmed. Develop documents like sample contracts, price sheets, invoice templates, and recordkeeping systems now so you can be confident and organized once in operation.

4. Establish Workflow

When you work in an office, there’s a natural flow to each day. And because you’re in a space that’s just for work, it’s easy to stay focused. Working from home is completely different. Without the change of environment, you can delay work or get distracted throughout the day. It’s important to create a home office that increases your productivity. Make sure you have the right equipment and furniture and that your office is in a space free of distractions.


Being productive as a freelancer relies on self-discipline and routine is the foundation of discipline. Set working hours for yourself and commit to them, time block your schedule to create time for both income-generating and administrative duties, and know how much work you can commit to at once.

5. Find Your First Customers

In the broad sense, a solid marketing plan and brand identity are what help businesses attract and retain customers. But when your business is brand new, customers are unlikely to discover it organically.


If you have connections with a freelancer in a complementary field — say you’re an SEO specialist who knows a web designer — ask for referrals or partner up to serve their clients. If networking doesn’t land any leads, check freelance marketplaces to find people seeking one-off services. While it might not lead to a long-standing business relationship, it’s a good way to get a few clients under your belt and recruit positive online reviews. Nation1099 recommends some of the best freelance marketplaces to try.


Setting up a freelance business is a lot of work, but thankfully, these tasks only have to be done once. Once your business is created and systems and processes are in place, you can shift your focus to running and growing your business. From marketing your business and building relationships to delivering a great product or service, there’s a lot to look forward to in the world of entrepreneurship.


Image via Unsplash

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