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Business Acumen for Freelancers



The gig economy is booming. Though popular even before the pandemic, freelancing surged in the past year. In a survey held in August, the Pew Research Center found that the majority of respondents took on short-term projects to supplement their current income or save extra money. In fact, many are thinking of freelancing full-time due to added control over their schedule and the projects and clients they can choose. If you're one of those individuals, know that doing so requires a keen business sense. After all, freelancers can be considered business owners who offer their skills as services to clients. Doing so can be especially challenging today as the world navigates its way out of the pandemic. Fortunately, you can hone your business acumen by focusing on certain key areas of your expertise. Below are a few tips to help you get started.

Conduct market research

Successful freelancers are familiar with the market, understand its gaps, and offer services to fill them. With remote working on the rise, you can also cater to clients outside your area. For example, a little search on Google can inform freelancers with math, finance, or economics majors that data analytics services will be highly sought-after in 2022. Consequently, they know that heading into the market as freelance data analysts will offer them a wealth of job opportunities. Being proactive by seeking out in demand jobs will make you a more appealing candidate, even if you're up against a national pool of applicants.

Know the value of upskilling

Multiple fields will require you to stay up-to-date with industry trends and skills more than others. Fortunately, upskilling can help you close that skill gap. There are many ways to upskill, and the method depends on how long it will take you to master a particular skill and the type of specialization clients are usually looking for in the field you're in. For instance, if you're a freelance programmer, you can benefit from short coding courses. Topics such as frontend and backend development don't need years of training — especially if you already have a programming background. However, there are occupations, like accounting, where accredited certificates are crucial for assessing whether the freelancer can deliver the services they offer. This is why many opt to pursue a higher education degree in accounting, as it demonstrates they have the necessary skills for bookkeeping as well as helping them prepare for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination. Moreover, it has been proven that those with a higher education background in the industry have increased earning potential by up to 13%. So aside from learning valuable skills, you earn the right to charge higher rates for your services. You might also opt for courses to hone your business acumen directly. Our dedicated, deeply customized, and interactive course on business acumen training can help you determine where your chosen field is headed and relate these trends to meeting your career goals. Moderated by industry leaders with emphasis on practice alongside theory, this course can help you develop the abilities today's employers expect, giving you a competitive edge in the booming freelance job market.

Emphasize your soft skills

Freelancing isn’t just about finding work: it’s also about building strong relationships with your clients. Soft skills will help you utilize and showcase your capabilities to their fullest extent. For example, it won't matter if you have cutting-edge video editing skills if you don't know how to integrate client feedback into your output or meet deadlines. By using soft skills to build good client relationships, you'll also gain a competitive advantage in the networking department. Quality output and work ethic will help you get referrals you can use to nab better projects moving forward.

See the bigger picture

Though it's true that upskilling is a surefire way to boost your attractiveness to employers, much care needs to be taken to ensure the skills you acquire are in line with market demand. The training we provide can help you pinpoint the aspects of business operations that executives value the most, so you can assess the skills you need and prove your value to potential clients more effectively. However, you also need to pay attention to other elements of your business. Having the right skills won't matter if you neglect marketing. Advertise on social media, distribute digital business cards, or send emails to businesses you think will benefit from your services. Your plans should also be flexible, especially in dynamic industries. Make short- and long-term goals that can adjust to emerging industry trends, like the rise of digital marketing during the pandemic. Finally, document everything to make bookkeeping easier and reduce errors across various projects. As we've previously noted on our blog, the cloud is a particularly powerful storage tool that can help you access documents remotely while avoiding loss caused by technological disruptions. Most importantly, you need spirit. Having a powerful drive to forge your own career the way you want to is key to developing a strong business acumen and a successful freelancing career.


Written exclusively for Acumenlearning.com

by Alicia Clover